Welcome to the everyday sexism project. It seems to be increasingly difficult to talk about sexism, equality and women’s rights in a modern society that perceives itself to have achieved gender equality. 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’, ‘prudish’, a ‘militant feminist’, or a ‘bra burner’.
The Everyday Sexism project aims to take a step towards gender equality, by proving wrong those who tell women that they can’t complain because we are equal. It is a place to record stories of sexism faced on a daily basis, by ordinary women, in ordinary places. To show that sexism exists in abundance in the UK workplace and that it is very far from being a problem we no longer need to discuss. To provoke responses so numerous and wide-ranging that the problem becomes impossible to ignore. To report the way you have been treated, even if it has not been taken seriously elsewhere. To stand up and say ‘this isn’t right’, even if it isn’t big or outrageous or shocking. Even if you’ve got used to thinking that it is ‘just the way things are’.
Women who complain about disrespectful comments being made to female members in the House of Commons are accused of ‘overreacting’, yet only 22% of MPs are female. Those who object to the sexist portrayal of women in the media are branded ‘killjoys’, yet nearly 70% of speaking parts in Hollywood films are taken by men, (though female characters are five times more likely to strip down to sexy clothing.) Women who object to the over-sexualisation of female celebrities are told ‘it’s a choice’, yet it is almost impossible to think of a modern female singer who hasn’t bared all. Women are told that modern ‘equality’ means career girls can have their cake and eat it, yet only around 13% of FTSE 100 corporate board members are female.
We are encouraged to celebrate the advance of women into the cockpit, yet Ryanair still releases an all-female nude calendar and Virgin flight attendants go to work every day on a plane emblazoned with a cleavage baring, swimsuit clad caricature. We simply aren’t living in an equal society, but we are blasted for ‘whining’ or ‘not knowing how lucky we are’ if we try to point it out.
So please, send me your stories. Send other people to send me their stories. Send me your Nan’s story, your sister’s story or your best friend’s. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live. It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you believe in. If you have experienced sexism, just everyday, small, so-used-to-it-you-almost-just-accept-it sexism, please share your story so we can prove how widespread the problem really is. And nobody will be able to say we can’t talk about it anymore.
PLEASE NOTE, entries may be quoted in newspaper and magazine articles or in other Everyday Sexism publications, including a possible future book.