Perhaps one of the most important, eye-opening books you can read on the topic, I suggest everyone pick up a copy of Laura Bates’ “Everyday Sexism,” which builds off the website and associated social media accounts.
Sexism is rampant these days, whether you experience it every day or not. I particularly think this book would be a crucial read for anyone who doesn’t, or thinks they don’t, experience sexism. There were a lot of little gem quotes in this book, which is littered with examples from real women and men around the world of their experiences with sexism.
From being catcalled on the street to being harassed at work, from lower-level offenses to the most serious stories of harassment and assault…. this book will open your eyes to what women (and men, to a lesser degree) are experiencing around the world. From tales of Internet harassment (thanks, social media) to how that can reach over into the non-virtual world…. this book covers a little bit of everything, including how varying groups can experience different levels of sexism, including sexism intertwined with other things like racism, ableism, homophobia, etc. I found it to be a very thorough read, if an incredibly sad one. It’s hard to read all the stories and see what people experience in these categories around the world, to feel the pain, the embarrassment… and to connect that to what we’ve felt in our own lives.
Honestly, as I was reading this book, one of things that popped out most to me was when Bates talked about how we sometimes change or adapt our schedules as a result of sexism/harassment/etc. You don’t realize it until you think about it – but I thought about it, and it’s incredibly true. Just the other day, in the midst of my reading of this book, I had a man on a bus trying to talk to me despite my clear disinterest. I didn’t acknowledge him as he stood right in front of me trying to talk to me. After a few minutes, he stopped trying. But then that whole bus ride, I thought “What if he tries to get off at my stop? What if he follows me?” and came up with a plan that if he was still on the bus when it was time for me to get off, I’d get off one stop further, right by a 7-11 convenience store — that way, if he followed me off, I could walk right into the store and call the police from there if necessary.
It hit me then: Yep, this is real. We do small things that inconvenience us or force us to adapt our schedules, our plans, to avoid these situations, or to avoid these situations escalating. And sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it, but this is the world we live in.
The good news is, that same world allows women of all ages and backgrounds to find common ground and share their stories. We are not alone.
What more can I say? Someone on Goodreads called this “the most important book you’ll ever read” and it certainly is an important one. Sexism is EVERYWHERE, and it hurts not just women, but men as well.
Pick up this book and give it a read. You won’t regret it.
Then visit EverdaySexism.com.