Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates – Review

The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.

http://everydaysexism.com/

Laura Bates first came to my attention the other night as I caught up on the alumni University Challenge episodes (secret lover of intellectual quiz shows).  Her name rang a bell, but it wasn’t until Paxman mentioned the Everyday Sexism project that I remembered it all – I’ve been intrigued by the project since it first began, but never felt I had anything to contribute.  That’s one important thing Bates references in the book:

“When I speak at universities and colleges, and describe the UK’s legal defition of sexual assault, I’m often approached afterwards. “This can’t be sexual assault,” they tell me, “because it’s normal…” “It can’t be sexual assault, because it’s just what happens when we go out with our friends…””

And it’s so true.  I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had their arse squeezed in a club, or an errant boob tap.  Sounds funny, right?  It isn’t.  It’s sexual assault.

Bates addresses so many “everyday” issues – from catcalling, to pornography, sexual assault, maternity (and paternity) issues, and gender equality.  And, importantly, she includes men in this.

“Men have been some of the project’s greatest supporters, and have also used it to share their own experiences of sexism.” 

It’s not an easy read.  And that has absolutely nothing to do with Bates – she is eloquent, witty, and an intelligent voice in a massive discussion.  But it’s uncomfortable.  There’s so much more we could do – we are all part of the bigger picture.  Whether it’s calling out cat-callers, refusing to call each other sluts and whores (WWTFS : What Would Tina Fey Say? “You’ve got to stop calling each other sluts and whores.  It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores”), and shouting into the silence.

It’s difficult to talk about being a feminist without receiving a bunch of uneducated hate, particularly online. I only have to look at some of the people watching Love Island when Camilla uttered the immortal words “shouldn’t we all be feminists?”:

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Once you’re a “feminist” it’s an insult, and as Bates described:

“It was as if I had morphed terrifyingly before his startled eyes into a green-skinned, horn-sprouting monster FEMINIST with not only a capital F but all shouty letters after it too.” 

(See, she’s funny, AND a feminist, the two aren’t mutually exclusive)

Everyday Sexism is a true eye-opener, and helps raise questions about what you’re seeing everyday, and what we should all be doing to help combat it.

“Those whispers became a voice…This is the voice of thousands and thousands of women and it’s saying: Enough is enough”.

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