Even in 2014, sexism is still out there, rearing its ugly head when women least suspect it. Laura Bates founded the Everyday Sexism Project to give women a voice in the fight against sexism. The project encourages women share their stories online, using either their own name or a pseudonym. With the help of her eponymous new book and Laura’s column in The Guardian, the Everyday Sexism Project is on a roll and growing in popularity each and every day.
While the Everyday Sexism Project is a simple concept, it has resonated with women across the world. Hannah Betts, feminist and columnist for The Telegraph, breaks the significance of the project down into three parts: bringing incidents of prejudice back into the conversation, connecting the dots between major and minor abuse and giving women a place to vent. “What is ingenious about the project is that it defamiliarises behaviour to which even life-long feminists such as myself have become so inured we no longer really see it.” She continued, “In the process, it takes women’s pained internalising of such treatment and transforms it into indignant external form.”
As of January this year, the Everyday Sexism Project has attracted over 60 000 submissions from women in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Russia, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Austria and France.
The whole idea stemmed from Laura’s very own encounters with sexual harassment. For Laura, sexism really came to her attention two years ago when she was unlucky enough to experience a spate of unrelated incidents over the period of two weeks. Laura was, "Shouted at from cars, followed by a guy off a bus, a guy masturbated on the bus, a guy sat next to me and began groping my legs." The timely nature of these events got Laura talking about sexism to her friends, most of whom had experienced sexism in some way, shape or form.
Laura isn’t scared to say the F word. I’m not talking about the four-letter word that begins with F and ends in K; I’m talking about feminism. Unfortunately, using the internet as a platform for change often leads to criticism. As hate mail continues to flood Laura’s inbox, she turns to her feminist support network to keep her going. She said, “Anyone who describes feminism as an in-fighting, back-biting movement has clearly never been as lucky as I was, at those lowest moments, to discover in it the strength and kindness, advice and support of so many other women and men.”
The Everyday Sexism Project dispels rumors that being a feminist is a bad thing. The website states, “In this ‘liberal’, ‘modern’ age, to complain about everyday sexism or suggest that you are unhappy about the way in which women are portrayed and perceived renders you likely to be labelled ‘uptight.”
In this community, feminism and speaking up are in, while sexism and vilification are out. No wonder women across the world as chomping at the bit to get involved.
Photo sourced here.