Everyday sexism

Do you ever feel like you’re the victim of everyday sexism?

Have you ever been wolf-whistled in the street, or leered over by a gang of builders? Maybe your boss has attempted a drunken fumble, or you’ve been passed over for promotion at work because you have a young family?

Where do we draw the line?

At what point does harmless banter become sexual assault? When does discrimination at work become the stuff of tribunals?

Complain about a wolf-whistle and you risk being labelled a prude, or uptight, admit that you have a problem with normalisation of porn, as I have, and you’re labelled narrow-minded and frigid, but just because soft porn has become so mainstream, and incidences of sexism occur everyday, doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. If anything, its proliferation makes it even more pressing.

Anyway, I’m blathering on. All I really wanted to do was tell you about a new project called ‘Everyday Sexism’, created to draw together women’s daily encounters with sexism. Go and read the stories from other women, add your own, and let’s not be afraid to stand up and say that sexism still exists, and that speaking up about it doesn’t make us all frigid man-haters.



  1. ethicalcompanies
    15 April, 2012 / 4:25 pm

    Surely the line “The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis” is arguably sexist in its own right? Do they assume only women experience sexist issues?

    • 15 April, 2012 / 4:31 pm

      Of course not Steve, no one would think that men were immune from stereotyping or discrimination. Those Boots ads for example, that portray those long-suffering women complaining about man flu and how lame their husbands are drive me absolutely NUTS.

      I do think though that women are on the end of the lion’s share of sexism, and this project is set up to focus on that. You could always start a similar thing for men? I think that would be a really interesting comparison.

      • ethicalcompanies
        16 April, 2012 / 3:01 pm

        But why didn’t they just have a site about sexism, why did it have to focus on women only?

        • 16 April, 2012 / 3:03 pm

          You could always ask the woman who set up the project Steve? I don’t know – I can only assume it’s because women experience more of it.

        • 1 May, 2012 / 10:20 pm

          Hi ethicalcompanies,
          Sorry not to have responded sooner but I’ve only just seen all the lovely thought provoking comments here! I’m Laura, the founder of http://www.everydaysexism.com

          The reason the site focuses solely on women is because its aim is to examine the extremely prevalent, normalised, low-level sexism experienced by women on a daily basis against the backdrop of wider gender imbalance in society; financially, profesionally, politically and socially. As Jo mentions below, I feel that our normalised acceptance of everyday sexism is one of the first rungs on the ladder towards these greater gender imbalances and the fact that many of them have remained unchallenged for so long. If you take a look at the ‘about’ tab on the site, it explains this in some detail, with some interesting statistcs.

          So while the site in no way denies the fact that of course men sometimes face sexism and that’s an equally valid problem, it exists specifically to deal with sexism against women, against that broader context of the problem. (And I don’t think it’s too desperately controversial to say that women face sexism just a tad more frequently than men do!)

          I think a site for men is a great idea – maybe you should start one – I’d love to take a look at it.

  2. GMacP
    15 April, 2012 / 7:09 pm

    I wonder where the innate sexism that pervades our society comes from though…and where the responsibility lies..

    Are the magazines that teach young women to behave in ways to attract men, to become sex objects and attract the wolf whistles run by men for men? I don’t think so.

    More, Closer, Bella, Company, Cosmopolitan etc – what do they actually portray and what behaviours do they encourage?

    As a staunchly pro feminism male (who read and understood The Female Eunuch in his teens) I really think that, before solely blaming men maybe, just maybe, a lot of women should look closer to home…

    Just a thought.

    • 16 April, 2012 / 2:56 pm

      I totally agree that magazines like Cosmo, which concern themselves only with how to help you lose weight, whilst giving a man the best blow job of his life, are appalling role models for young girls, which is why I don’t buy them, and would encourage my daughters not to either. Of course it is a far more complex issue than just saying men are to blame – a lot of women need to wise up to fact of what’s happening, and not think that going out for the night barely dressed, or sleeping around, or any of those things, are neccessarily a sign of emancipation. Couldn’t agree more.

      • ethicalcompanies
        16 April, 2012 / 3:02 pm

        “Best blow job”? Seriously? Do they really have stuff like that?

        • 16 April, 2012 / 3:03 pm

          ‘fraid so Steve. Cosmo particularly is full of sex tips and secrets, all designed to keep your man satisfied…

  3. 15 April, 2012 / 8:25 pm

    I try to keep things light hearted because I work in a factory and have done for years. It’s male dominated and sometimes aggressive, I try to make my life simple and so I don’t always pipe up unless it’s really important to me. The one thing that did get to me is coming across a nude calendar when I was auditing a supplier. I didn’t say anything, the supplier was awful and my audit findings were already saying that, the fact they had so little respect for me or their female staff was a minor thing in the comedy of errors of their management systems.

    What annoys me more though is the sexism in pay. When I went on maternity leave, the guy who covered my job was paid approx 45% more than me (and did a much worse job) and that has happened several times in my career. That bothers me more than any wolf whistle.

    • Annie
      16 April, 2012 / 12:00 pm

      I used to work in a pretty much male dominated environment and doing very well at it, with previous experience of the subject matter too. A guy came in, several years younger than me, no previous experience and I was giving him advice on a daily basis helping him fit into the job. I later found he was earning several thousand a year more then me.

      • 16 April, 2012 / 2:50 pm

        Wow, that is schocking – everyone seems to think that that’s a think of the past, that the equal pay suddenly put a stop to things like that, but it really didn’t…

        • 16 April, 2012 / 5:03 pm

          Nope it really didn’t. I’ve been paid less than men in equivalent jobs three times to my knowledge.

    • 16 April, 2012 / 2:53 pm

      I find this realy shocking. I know that men and women in comparable jobs will often get paid differently, but this was ONE job! He was doing YOUR job! Why on earth should he be paid more for doing exactly the same thing, only worse?? It makes me mad. *growly face*

  4. 15 April, 2012 / 8:51 pm

    I find that I am a promoter of appallingly old-fashioned stereotypes: I ignore the rubbish until DH deals with it, but do laundry, cooking and cleaning. I generally tell people that I am unable to do something because i am a girl and that’s a man’s job (usually emptying mousetrap- getting builders to do it instead) and so forth. I guess I’m ahead of my time: these things are cyclical so will undoubtedly be trending again at some point soon when political correctness and feminism go too far and actually cross over into old-fashioned stereotypes.

    • 16 April, 2012 / 2:52 pm

      I guess it’s a question of choice though Kelly. If you choose to do the cooking and cleaning then fine, and if your partner is happy to take out the rubbish, then brilliant, it’s where assumptions are made, and people discriminate, where the choice gets taken away from you, that’s when it’s a problem.

  5. 16 April, 2012 / 2:19 pm

    I suppose I should get more worked up about sexist comments but I guess i just don’t. Also the USA is politically correct so I think you get much less of it and also I don’t work in an office where that kind of banter flies about. I guess I get more worked up about the bigger picture like that 70% of women have experienced physical/sexual abuse http://hoydenabouttown.com/20120307.11461/sobering-thoughts-on-the-eve-of-international-womens-day/ but maybe sexist comments are the thin end of the wedge?

    • 16 April, 2012 / 2:49 pm

      God yes, you’re right to get worked up by that. Or how about in the UK, only around 5% of rape cases end in prosecution? That’s why I ask where we draw the line – yes some things may seem petty, but are they just the first rung on the ladder?

  6. Muddling Along
    17 April, 2012 / 10:38 am

    Great idea – am sick of the insidious level of sexism that we’re just supposed to put up with and sick of fighting against it day in day out

  7. honeybee35
    17 April, 2012 / 9:29 pm

    It’s quite sad really that I’ve almost become ‘immune’ to the types of daily sexism that exist…over the years I’ve found myself more angry at a certain section of my own male relatives who clearly condone sexism; possess little understanding of how inequality and viewing women as second-class beings is wrong. How can I expect support and change from the outside world when my own family members don’t recognise the damage being caused by their views and ignorance? I’m ashamed to admit where I’ve experienced horrible instances of sexism and inequality, I had such little confidence in discussing it with them – knowing they wouldn’t have any belief in me – that I was terrified of speaking out in a more formal way.
    Anything that will help and support those who feel victimised will always be a great move forward in my opinion.

  8. 18 April, 2012 / 6:41 am

    I think it depends where you are and what industry you’re in. In Media sexism is minimal…but in the tech industries sexism is rife, but on a very low-level, everyday banter kind of way.

    I freelanced a bit at Sky (in the News bit) and the Football part was renowned for being a throwback environment and many of us chose not to work within it because of that. It didn’t just make the women uncomfortable. The news section felt a bit more gender neutral and no one really cared who wrote the stories but I always hated that the male anchors had to be men in their ’50’s – respectable pillars of the community – but the women anchors couldn’t be a day over 40 or they’d get the axe. They were never fired. On-air would be ‘freshened up’ – the men were never ‘freshened up’ though. Used to make a lot of people seethe…but then again, we always regarded the ‘talent’ to be muppets, whether they were male or female.

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