We keep hearing about North American women surging ahead at school and making inroads in the workplace. But despite all the hoopla – see, for instance, Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men – or perhaps because if it, women still face a huge range of good old-fashioned sexism.
Now, there’s a Twitter handle shedding light on the kinds of experiences women face daily.
The British-based Everyday Sexism Project (@everydaysexism) has been collecting women’s reports from around the world since April, 2012, Emma Barnett of the Telegraph reports. This week, founder Laura Bates expects the submissions to pass the 20,000 mark. The Twitter handle contains a stream of lewd behaviour experienced on subways, real discrimination at work and outright sexual assault.
It also contains equal parts jaded humour, simmering outrage and activism. In some cases, the tweets are snippets of disheartening conversations parents have with daughters.
“I set up the project as I felt everyday sexism was a really invisible problem. So many women I knew were having similar experiences and were repeatedly being told ‘not to complain’ and ‘have a sense of humour’ if they brought up what had happened to them,” Bates told Barnett.
The fact that The Globe can’t print many of the raunchy things women routinely report men saying to them is a reminder of just how bad it can get (not to mention the death threats Bates receives for her efforts).
A few G-rated examples, some from Barnett’s piece and some from new Tuesday posts:
“My daughter asked today if she could change into a boy so she could go into space.”
“Guy at bus stop: ‘I’ve a spare room, you can live with me.’ Dude. Women are not Pokemon, roaming in the wild. I got my own place.”
“Someone referred to a secretary as ‘skirt’ without even meeting them.”
“Walking home today, 6 wolf whistles, 2 honking cars and one attempted grope.”
One of the biggest shockers, Bates said, is the number of items posted by teenage girls.
“We have had thousands,” she told Barnett. “I didn’t expect young women to be experiencing so much sexual harassment or occurrences bordering on assault.”
Among the project’s supportive men are fathers of young girls who are now worried about their daughters, Bates said.
There are plans to take the project in an educational direction, but brave parents who aren’t afraid of a squirmy conversation with their teens – boys and girls – could sit down in front of a computer today and scroll through the tweets as a conversation starter. It ain’t pretty, but it deserves an airing.