Not my usual type of Thursday post today, but one that I’m very much looking forward to sharing with you, and it’s a review of Everyday Sexism, the book that accompanies the online project of the same name by Laura Bates.
If you haven’t heard of the project, or don’t follow the Everyday Sexism Twitter account, let me fill you in. Laura Bates started the website in 2012 after experiencing several forms of sexist harassment in a short space of time. Wanting to catalog others’ experiences, Bates was shocked when entries started coming in in their hundreds. Within a couple of months there were thousands of stories shared, and now there are now over 60,000 entries from across the world.
I was lucky enough to see Laura Bates in conversation last month at the Bristol Festival of Ideas and the hour-long talk was inspiring, humorous but essentially unsettling, so when I heard that the book was available to buy on the night, I couldn’t resist.
As well as project entries and tweets, the book features interviews with school girls, politicians and fellow journalists. Each chapter starts with a list of statistics which range from the well publicised (women working full time in the UK in 2012 49% less than men) to the downright shocking (over 20,000 girls under 15 are at high risk of female genital mutilation in England and Wales each year).
Bates recognises that sexism is suffered by both men and women, and includes a chapter on the ways in which men have been and continue to be discriminated against becuase of their gender.
Since starting to read the book last week, I’ve felt compelled to revisit it every evening, and without fail with each page leaves me stunned at how sexism has become so normalised that it doesn’t even make me flinch. Being shouted at from passing cars shouldn’t happen, being groped in clubs shouldn’t happen, and yet it does. Reading Everyday Sexism proves that in abundance and it’s galvanised my feelings that this normalisation isn’t ok.
The chapter that resonated with me the most was ‘Girls’ – the accounts of teens and pre-teens discussing the career paths they didn’t think they could follow becuase ‘they’re for men’ and worse, that their own parents and teachers have dissuaded them from subjects and vocations because of their gender. This is mirrored in the ‘Young Women Learning’ chapter, which also includes stories of sexual harassment (and worse) experienced by university students.
Just like Caitlin Moran’s semi-autobiographical How to Be a Woman, this book needs to read and shared and bought for friends and family, men and women. This isn’t fiction. This is a real account of the prejudiced attitudes girls and women are confronted with every day.
Have you heard of the Everyday Sexism project? And is this book on your reading list? Let me know in the comments below.
Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, available to buy online and in all good bookshops for £12.99 from today.