Founder Laura Bates says more women are 'reporting stalking, harassment and sexual assault to the police'
When Laura Bates (pictured) started the Everyday Sexism project this time last year, her aim was to establish a place for women to share stories of the sexism they experience on a day-to-day basis and be taken seriously.
The project was launched in 2012 with no funding or publicity, but today it has over 25,000 entries and has spread to 15 different countries. Women of all ages – as young as seven – and all backgrounds, have been using the project to get their voices heard.
One in five women over the age of 16 in England and Wales have been the victim of a sexual offence. The normalization of sexism has reached a point where many women don’t even realize they are being sexually abused. According to Bates, the aim of the Everyday Sexism project is ‘To stand up and say “this isn’t right”, even if it isn’t big or outrageous or shocking. Even if you’ve got used to thinking that it is “just the way things are”.’
Writing for The Guardian’s Women’s Blog, Bates recounts some of the examples of everyday sexism she has been sent: ‘A schoolgirl and a widow reported being pressured and pestered for sex. A reverend in the Church of England was repeatedly asked if there was a man available to perform the wedding or funeral service: “nothing personal”. A man was congratulated for ‘babysitting’ his own children. A 14-year-old schoolgirl wrote: “I am constantly told I can’t be good at things because I’m a girl. That I need to get back in the kitchen. That all I’m good for is cleaning, cooking, and blowjobs”.’
However, mixed in with the hundreds of messages that the project receive every day, are success stories of women fighting back. Bates says: ‘More women are reporting stalking, harassment and sexual assault to the police. A woman who tired of cold-callers asking to speak to “the man of the house” started putting them on to her six-year-old son. A football fan wrote to the chairman of his club to ask why the fans were singing such misogynistic chants.’
In one year, the Everyday Sexism project has given 25,000 people the platform to be heard. The project isn’t just raising its voice in a polemic – it’s shouting back.
You can follow the Everyday Sexism Project on Twitter @EverydaySexism.