Although gender inequality would not exist in a perfect world, sexism is very much alive in reality. Women consistently experience sexism in everyday situations, whether they are asking for directions or applying for a high-power position. For Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, these instances of gender inequality cannot go unnoticed any longer.
According to Bates, “The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced on a day to day basis.” Prior to launching the project, Bates found that when women spoke up about experiencing sexism, they were belittled and told to stop complaining. She also found that women were often told that gender equality already exists.
According to the site’s website, “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.” Bates herself stated, “To be a feminist, I have learned, is to be accused of oversensitivity, hysteria and crying wolf.” Because so many people apparently believe that gender equality has been reached, it is thought that people like Bates, who advocate for an end to sexism, are wasting their time.
When Bates promoted her project on Twitter, the response featured intense backlash and even rape threats by men, who detailed how they would torture her for daring to speak out. Evidently, it is not easy or safe for women to attempt to speak up to put an end to sexism.
That, however, is exactly where the Everyday Sexism Project comes in. Bates’ project allows women to share their experiences of sexism in their everyday lives and activities. “By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women [every day] and it is a valid problem to discuss.”
Bates’ project provides a public platform for women to share their stories, anonymously or otherwise, to prove that sexism is still alive. Although there are still some people who attack the project and Bates, there have also been many successes. “I hadn’t anticipated the practical and emotional help offered by other women–solidarity from those of my own age and staunch support from older feminists who had seen it all before.”
Anyone can submit their own stories about sexism on the Everyday Sexism Project’s website. Participants can provide their name, story, and note where the act of injustice occurred. “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.”
Also, the project offers the opportunity to submit stories anonymously, allowing participants to email Bates privately to share their stories. Some submissions on the project include stories from rape survivors, and some from women who were catcalled while trying to go to work. Many of the participants feel grateful for the project, saying to Bates, “Your project is so amazingly helpful to women who feel the same as I did.”
In a world that often apparently still believes gender equality has been achieved, it is crucial now more than ever to speak up against this belief and to acknowledge that sexism is still alive, whether by sharing your story or just by spreading the word.
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