The world around us sends us messages about ourselves as women. […] It lets us know that it is normal and common for women to experience assault and harassment and rape. And it tells us that we deserve it. And all the while we are conditioned to be passive and pleasant, not to make a fuss. […] Before we ever experience violence we are conditioned to expect it – and to accept it.
I came across Laura Bates’ Everyday Sexism through Instagram. One of the many book bloggers posted a picture of it and I had to buy it immediately.
Laura Bates started the “Everyday Sexism Project” back in 2012. Ever since the launch, she received over 100,000 entries through Twitter and her website http://everydaysexism.com/. The entries contained personal stories and experiences from women and girls, from young and old, from black and white, from straight and gay, from all over the world. The entries varied from catcalling, sexual harassment to sexual assault and rape.
The book includes these stories and experiences as well as research Laura did herself. Also, she used statistics to reinforce the worldwide problem of sexism but it was not the main focus. The main focus was definitely on all the personal stories, which I thought was great. I mean, everybody can google statistics of sexism, but what about the people behind these statistics? The victims of harassment, assault and rape? What better way is there to make people see and understand that yes, there is something called sexism and it’s not something from 50 years ago! It’s there and it is right in front of you!
A lot of these stories shocked me and it got me thinking. I will be honest: I am lucky to not have experienced any sexual assault or rape myself and I hope that it will stay that way. But unfortunately I have experienced harassment myself: it varied from creepy men saying “Hey Sexy” to me when walking down the street, nasty old men asking me to smile for them when passing them on the street, disgusting, lustful stares from men when wearing shorts or dresses, to whistling and honking and yes, even groping in clubs. I was even called arrogant for not responding to a simple ‘hello’ from three guys when I was walking toward my car on a barely lit street in the middle of the night (130am) on my own. Who do they think they are?! It makes me so angry that there are so many men out there who think they can do and say whatever the heck they want toward us women/girls.
I am so glad that Laura Bates started the project and made a book out of it. I think that all women and all men should read this book – seriously you guys, read it. There might be information that you already knew but there even might be information that is totally new to you.
Laura Bates wrote a lot of eye-opening and great things in this book. Here are just a few quotes I marked inside of it:
Sexism is a socially acceptable prejudice and everybody is getting in on the act.
Rape is not a sexual act; it is not the result of a sudden, uncontrollable attraction to a woman in a skimpy dress. It is an act of power and violence. To suggest otherwise is deeply insulting to the vast majority of men, who are perfectly able to control their sexual desires.
An instance of verbal harassment isn’t a simple, single experience. It isn’t even just about the person insulting or propositioning you. It’s the shock of the initial approach, which often gets your attention with visibly unpleasant jolt. It’s the prickle of embarrassment when that makes your harassers laugh. It’s the unease of suddenly re-evaluating your safety. It’s the discomfort when they mention your breasts or your legs and you start panicking, mentally checking your clothing choices – despite the fact that you’re absolutely no way responsible for what’s happening. […] It’s the fear when the harassers you ignore start shouting you’re a bitch, a slut, a whore. It’s the sense of dirty, overwhelming shame when nobody stops to help you and the message their silence sends is “You deserve this. This is not unjust enough to warrant my intervention. This is normal. This is what happens to women. Get used to it.’
Thank you Laura for launching the project and writing this great book!