The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Everyday Sexism


Four F-15 Eagle pilots from the 3rd Wing walk to their respective jets at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. (L-R) Maj. Andrea Misener, Capt. Jammie Jamieson, Maj. Carey Jones, and Capt. Samantha Weeks.

Have you ever experienced any of the following: bum pinching, wolf-whistling, being heckled at in public, being overlooked for promotion at work? If you have then you are not alone.

There is an assumption today that we are in a modern liberal society, that feminism has done its work. After all, women in the West have far more rights today than ever before in society. So why is it that so many women still face daily harassment – whether they recognise it as such or not?

Five months ago, 26 year-old writer and campaigner Laura Bates set up the Everyday Sexism Project, inviting women to contact her with their everyday stories of sexism. These stories feature from small niggling instances of sexism–a comment on a TV programme that a wedding dress was the most important item of clothing a woman will have–to being passed over for promotion at work while less-qualified male colleagues scale the corporate ladder. "We are encouraged to celebrate the advance of women into the cockpit," says Laura, "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."

Following the project's Twitter account can make for a depressing read. These instances of sexism that women and girls encounter everyday may seem like small issues individually, but taken together they paint a picture of a society that teaches girls that the world is a frightening place for women, that they will be judged on their looks, and that they are somehow lesser to men. The project is not designed to only make us depressed however. What Everyday Sexism has shown is that these problems are widespread and very often not recognised as problems but rather as "just the way things are." It's hoped that by dragging those moments into the light that it will become impossible to dismiss them as "whining." As a woman living in 21st century Britain, I know that I am extraordinarily lucky in many ways. But that doesn’t mean that I am fair game to be shouted at in the street or grabbed in a club.

The project has become a viral success largely due to word-of-mouth and I hope that it continues to grow. Just last week, the blog was awarded the Liberal Democrat's award for Best non-Liberal Democrat Political Blog of the Year–perhaps not the most glamorous of awards, but it certainly shows that as a movement, the Everyday Sexism project is growing.

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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