Everyday Sexism is a book that was birthed as a social media project by a British feminist activist, Laura Bates. She gathered together testimonies from women worldwide about gender-based degradation suffered in both private and public spheres. The online project that metamorphosised into a book, painted the most grim picture of what it is to be a woman in the 21st century. This was witnessed by the victims that came out by the dozens.
The author touches on how early the brainwashing of girlhood starts with totally unsolicited sexual advances often with familiar faces around. The young girls are belittled, silenced and shut down. After all, maybe she asked for it. She should have known better. And when girls graduate high school, they have college – complete with toxic lad culture – to look forward to, if they’re lucky enough to attend university.
It takes Bates experiencing her tipping point to realize how the plight of said abused women— which included everything from male leering to outright physical assault—had been dealt with almost every day, transcending rank, race and culture. She finally fully understood the deeply rooted nature of gender inequality. In this book, she shares her experiences alongside those of women who had written on Bates’ website about their experiences of ‘little pinpricks’ of sexist intrusion.
It’s almost like there is an unwritten law that women’s radar is always supposed to be on. No matter what. Yet whenever she thinks she has checked all boxes, the goal posts shift. While ladies should not walk alone in the dark, take a taxi alone, dress inappropriately, be friendly with the doorman, not consume alcohol or worse still not fun enough to take a joke, the young lads are just ‘being boys’. So much for individual accountability.
Additionally, Bates peppers the narrative with statistics as well as project entries. The former helps to provide some broader context, while women’s singular stories really drive Bates’s arguments home. This provides for quite the little gem quotes littered with humorous and heartbreaking, infuriating and (occasionally) unbelievable real life examples. But the ultimate value of Everyday Sexism lies in the user submissions. These are our sisters, mothers, and friends; our co-workers and daughters and leaders of tomorrow. They are us. We tell stories of being discouraged, belittled, victim-blamed, harassed, and assaulted, all because of our gender.
I found it to be a very thorough and incredibly sad read. Every woman worldwide should get to read Everyday Sexism atleast once in their lifetime.
Everyday Sexism deserves a place (though hopefully not permanent!) in every school and public library. This is a conversation starter and a must read, for would-be, budding, and seasoned feminists from all walks of life.
The page is still active with their twitter handle @EverydaySexism still receiving stories from women tackling sexual deviants. A potent reminder of how far feminism has come and how far it has to go.