Review: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

book review of everyday sexism by laura bates and quote: “...women are wittier, brighter, stronger and braver than a misogynistic and patriarchal world has given us credit for.”

“You really need to learn to take a compliment…And it wasn’t just men who took this view; is was women, too–telling me I was getting worked up about nothing, or being oversensitive…”

“Oh, you’re doing a political course? You must be very smart, things like that are really hard for girls!”

Everyday Sexism is a book which gives voice to every woman who has ever experienced sexism throughout their lives. It is a book which gives courage to women who didn’t have the courage to speak up. It is a book about women so used to sexism they don’t even ‘notice’ it anymore. It is a book about girls who need to learn to say no and speak up from a very early age. It is a book about standing up and saying loud and clearly no, this is not OK, this is not something we’re going to swipe under the carpet and laugh off as a joke. It is not a joke, and it is not OK.

I read the book a few weeks ago and I still feel pissed off just thinking about all the examples of sexism I read. Everyday Sexism is not just a book, it is something which has started as a small project and ended up as a movement.

“The very fact that it is necessary in the twenty-first century to explain why it’s not okay to publicly debate whether or not women are “asking” for sexual assault is mind-boggling.”

Laura Bates, after experiencing sexual harassment on London public transport, started a project to collect stories for an article she wanted to write. The huge influx of replies astounded her. Reading the book, I can see why, as all the chapters are peppered with quotes from these entries and the picture they paint is horrible.

Who knew that sexism is part of a woman’s everyday life? Who knew that it is so prevalent? Who knew the extent to which women can get used to these small incidents which can have far-reaching ramifications, especially since they seem to occur to young preteens too? Who knew that wearing a standard school uniform can cause young teenagers problems on their way to school?

This book made me so angry that many times I had to put it down simply because it became too unbearable to read!

This book looks at sexism in different spaces (in public, in the media, at work) and directed at women (during pregnancy, after giving birth) and girls (teens and even preteens). Its chapters are a blend of facts/statistics, an overview of subjects like feminism, prejudices towards women and the prevalence of violence by men towards women. Throughout the chapters, a whole lot of examples are given from the women who wrote their personal stories either on everydaysexism.com or on Twitter (@EverydaySexism). It gives us an overall image of today’s feminist issues, how prejudice impacts women’s lives both on a personal and professional level

What is crazy to me is how I can relate to these stories because I am not an exception here. I don’t even think there is such a thing. Every woman throughout her life will experience sexism.

What I loved about the book is that Laura does not treat men as evil. She dedicates a whole chapter to men and how they experience sexism too. So, sexism is directed at both sexes but without denial, the bulk of it is aimed at women. I liked the examples when men said they changed after they read the book as they realized that what they were doing was not OK.

One of the problems is how boys are raised because this behavior is learned and reinforced in boys by men. The chapter on girls and the school environment was especially disturbing.

“My younger brother’s 13. He had his friends round last weekend and I couldn’t believe it when I heard them sitting in the front room discussing girls in their class in three categories : “frigid”, “sluts” and “would like to rape”.”

So this is not a book for the faint hearted yet it is a book everyone should read, both men and women.

It is time to stop the objectification of women. It is time for a woman to wear whatever she wants without being judged and leered at for her choices. It is time to give little girls more toy choices, she might want to venture away from cooking toys or dolls. It is time to stop saying that women should stop overreacting to instances of sexism. It is time to stop making women ashamed.

“Girls are not only being denied access to scientific and adventurous toys, they’re also presented with such a narrow range of options that domesticity and stereotypically “female” duties are shoved down their throats before they’ve even reached the age of five.”

Women are not to blame. Women should not be ashamed. Women should stand up and shout back.

Read this book! #shoutingback

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