Did you ever hear a man wolf-whistle when you walked past? Had your bum pinched at a nightclub? Heard casual comments made about “women’s work”? These are all examples of everyday sexism, which a UK-based project is documenting via their website. Rachel Hand investigates the Everyday Sexism Project.
What is Everyday Sexism?
In the UK, where it is often imagined that gender equality has been achieved, sexism is rarely discussed. But the casual remarks and gestures above are examples of sexism that have sneakily entered our daily lives.
Without necessarily being aware that they are sexist, the perpetrators, who make these comments – usually men – are positioning themselves in a sexist society where women on the receiving end of hurtful remarks are seen as inferior.
Sexism Around the World
As a woman travelling the world, I’ve seen sexism come in many shapes and sizes. There are plenty of countries where it is inadvisable to travel alone as a woman, and even more cultures where women are expected to behave in a certain way, usually subservient to men.
Back in October in India, a senior minister, Sriprakash Jaiswal, was taken to court for making the sexist comment that wives lose their appeal with age. In Saudi Arabia, an extreme example, women are not allowed to drive and they must be accompanied by a male relative when they go out.
For women in India and Saudi Arabia, these are examples of everyday sexism.
What is The Everyday Sexism Project?
In the UK women are taking a stand against the sexism in their daily lives. The Everyday Sexism Project provides a forum for women to share their experiences of sexism.
It’s simple and very inclusive. You just enter your story into the box on the website’s home page, or you can add your stories by Twitter @EverydaySexism and or by email. Your story will show up on the website.
Readers can browse over a hundred pages and counting of everyday sexism accounts on the website which was launched earlier this year by Laura Bates, a writer and campaigner who has a regular column about everyday sexism in the Huffington Post.
On the state of sexism, Bates comments:
“We are encouraged to celebrate the advance of women into the cockpit, yet Ryanair still releases an all-female nude calendar and Virgin flight attendants go to work every day on a plane emblazoned with a cleavage baring, swimsuit clad caricature. We simply aren’t living in an equal society, but we are blasted for ‘whining’ or ‘not knowing how lucky we are’ if we try to point it out.”
The Everyday Sexism Project “aims to take a step towards gender equality, by proving wrong those who tell women that they can’t complain because we are equal”. With its thousands of accounts of sexism, it appears to be doing a good job of proving that this is an issue.
Examples of Everyday Sexism
Here are a few accounts of sexism from the website:
“Some guys at work discussing whose leaving do it was: “that trashy looking bird who is always smoking outside”.” Kirsten
“Every day I hear my male colleagues described as ‘Male Nurses’…….no, they’re *nurses*, like the women are.” Emmie
“The fact that my niece thinks calling someone a girl is an insult makes me unbelievably sad. I tried to explain how self-harming that is, how she insults herself every time she says that. I don’t know if it sunk in. I pray it did.” Lisa
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Have you Encountered Everyday Sexism?
While the Everyday Sexism Project is UK-based, there is nothing to stop women in other countries from submitting their accounts of sexism to the site.
In many of the world’s cultures it would be impossible for women to even launch a website like this. However, the Everyday Sexism Project shows that even in countries where women have rights, everyday sexism is rife.
So if you have encountered sexist remarks or gestures, or you know someone who has, upload your story to the website at www.everydaysexism.com and share it with women around the world.
What have been your experiences of daily sexism? Tell us in the comments below.