The Everyday Sexism Project
Everyday Sexism in Britain
“They involved street harassment, being groped on the bus, being followed home by a man who was very aggressive.” Laura explains. “I suddenly thought, if these thing hadn’t all happened within such a short space of time I never would have thought twice about any of them because it’s become so normal.”
With a prominent United Nations human rights expert just this week declaring Britain’s sexism more pervasive than that of any other country, it’s no wonder Bates started reflecting on other similarly uncomfortable incidents she’d experienced over the years, but routinely put down to the trials of womanhood.
“I started asking other women if they’d experienced anything like this – not necessarily in the street but in the workplace, university, and I couldn’t believe how many women had so many stories to tell. I wanted people to recognise how big the problem was because there were all these stories and experiences but when I tried to talk about the problem people said, oh no, sexism doesn’t exist anymore, it’s not an issue. So that’s why I started the project really.”
It took just two months to hit 1000 entries, and as the number continues to escalate it’s come to resemble a tool of empowerment. Now, two years on, Bates has curated a book, Everyday Sexism, documenting a quota of the entries.
Considering the shocking statistics that in Britain alone there are over 400,000 sexual assaults a year, and that a quarter of women will experience some form of domestic violence, the battle to eliminate sexism can be daunting.
“Yes, the entries can be overwhelming, especially with hundreds of stories coming in every day, some of them being very extreme, but at the same time we are getting stories from young girls saying ‘I never realised I can stand up to this but now I’m starting a feminism group in my school’ or you hear from older women saying they’ve recorded sexual assault for the first time. There’s definitely this overwhelming sense of community and positivity.”
Words by Camilla Davies
Everyday Sexism (Simon & Schuster, £14.99) is on the shelves of most bookstores now. You can also find your copy at www.amazon.co.uk.