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Laura Bates – Everyday Sexism

Posted in Book reviews, and Non-fiction

Reading of Everyday Sexism was overwhelming. There were so many stories I could relate to, another ones triggered remembering awful events I’d been exposed to years and years back. It was full of moments when I needed to stop reading and breath out what I’ve just read, or read it aloud to someone else, because I couldn’t bear to simply continue. Everyday Sexism brought a lot of conversation to my life and help me to make peace with my experience. Gone are days when a stranger in age of my father followed me in a car, saying he wanted to fuck me. Also those days when I was commuting from my university and a boy, aged probably 12, started to rub my thigh and when I tried to get off the bus, he grabbed my ass. I simply refuse to be part of such society. The way it can change is to have an open dialog about these everyday experiences. And yes, I’m well aware there are women suffering from hunger, lack of education, female genital mutilations and many other dangers. However, not living under these threats doesn’t mean I don’t face any.

Everyday Sexism offers an insight into women’s experiences with sexism in various situations and very different age range, starting with memories of sexist comments in early puberty continuing far into adulthood.
However, everybody present in modern society can see/hear how sexism is not at all aimed against women only, as men are confronted with sexist comments and situations. Our lives are filled with harmful stereotypes, appalling examples of behaviour and lack of empathy. It may seem fine to say to small boy, who just hurt himself “Don’t cry like a girl!”, but is it still fine when he’s depressed, hiding his feelings, refusing professional help just for sake of not being judged as “weak gender” is? It’s not okay to pretend porn equals average sexual intercourse to such an extent, that young girls are afraid to have sex after seeing few videos. It’s unbelievable and “funny” until it happen to one of us, people we know, people we love.

While reading some tweets and mails project of Everyday Sexism received, I remembered another project called Unbreakable, giving voice through photography to survivors of sexual assaluts, rape, violence etc. Many entries are captions of young women with just t-shirt and jeans, stating this was their outfit when they were raped, like they need to make it clear it wasn’t another “asking for it” outfit. Because people don’t believe them, because people still laugh at sexist jokes, try to pretend there is no such issue. Well, there is, and Laura did great job of mapping this harmful behaviour and its consequences.

Everyday Sexism is not trying to harm men and Laura is taking into account also stories from male point of view. Shared researches, numbers and stories speak for themselves and it shows how our society is influenced not only by historical developments and prejudices, but also by media setting more then often unreachable goals for young girls, and at the same time presenting no-longer valid stereotypes. Both women and men are exposed to sexism and it’s up to one each of us to change it.

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