You know, those kind of books you fill with tabs and tabs to mark quotes so good you’d like to shout from the rooftop? Those kind of books you want to hand out to literally every person in the street? Those kind of books you feel could change the world for the better if only everyone would read and understand them? This is one of those books.
Everyday Sexism started out as a small online project, a simple question from a woman who had enough of street harassment and sexism, and couldn’t get rid of that one thought – It can’t be just me – and so she asked other women what they were going through. And, not unlike the #MeToo-Movement, this took off. Story after story piled in, by women from the UK and then all over the world, of their experiences with day-to-day sexism. From those small moments we have been ingrained to shrug off to major trauma with direct consequences, women talked about the way marginalisation impacted their lives. And in sharing, they felt understood, encouraged, empowered.
Legitimising Female Anger
I felt those things too, but most prominently, I felt angry. Disappointed at times, even shocked and sad, inspired, proud – though always with the underlying note of anger. It’s infuriating that this book was published in 2014 and yet here we are five years later, not only feeling like barely anything has changed, but some things have even gotten worse. It’s frustrating that when you try to address sexism today, you still get dismissed as ‘overreacting’, belittled and called hysterical, ridiculed, sneered at, or even harassed. As Bates said:
Sexism seems to occupy a ludicrously acceptable position when it comes to public discourse, with a general willingness to laugh and ignore it rather than define it as the prejudice it is.
After all, things are fine now for women, right? Declaring a rapist not guilty based on the victim’s choice of underwear is totally sensible, no? What do you mean it’s wrong to release young men who encouraged each other to rape fellow students ‘for fun’ back on the target’s campus? Only an outcry of disgust in the media could bring the university in question to retract the decision; and these are just the most recent stories in the news. Needless to say, things aren’t fine, and every piece of writing which acknowledges that helps. It signals the victims that even though they are surrounded by voices telling them to just let it go, there are others who validate their pain and tell them to raise their voice, to not give up. It teaches all of us to hold each other accountable. And more and more often, it works.
Everyone: Read. This. Book.
This book is for anyone who wants to educate themselves on sexism and feminist issues, for victims and those who are afraid of becoming one, even for those who are not sure ‘how to treat women now’ (spoiler alert, it’s super simple), or even think that feminism is unnecessary. There are stories from every part of the world to convince you how important it is.
Whether it’s women’s position in politics, the treatment of young girls and school life, women in public spaces or at work, their representation in the media, women of colour, older women, problems pregnant (or deliberately childless) women face, and yes, even how sexism impacts men – everything is considered in Everyday Sexism. Every woman will find herself somewhere in this book, and that is a powerful experience in itself. Being represented and listening to others’ experiences reminds us that it is not only okay, but necessary to stand up for ourselves. Buy this book for yourself, for your friends, for your family – I can’t recommend it enough.