13 Stories That Show Why ‘Everyday Sexism’ Blew Up on Twitter
Humiliation, harassment, discrimination, and rape. In the three years since British feminist writer Laura Bates founded The Everyday Sexism Project, about 100,000 women and men from around the world have submitted stories about the heartbreaking ways gender inequality impacts their lives. To mark the project’s third anniversary on Thursday, Bates is inviting the public to take to social media to turn the spotlight on how pervasive sexism is in homes, schools, workplaces, and nearly every other public spot. The hashtag #EverydaySexism has been trending on Twitter as people from all walks of life—from students to celebrities—share things that have been said or done to them.
As Bates noted on Thursday in an op-ed for The Guardian, when people begin sending stories to the project, “near-identical experiences emerge again and again.” As you’ll see from the following tweets, the same is true on social media.
Indeed, while the female characters on Mad Men know a thing or two about having their ideas co-opted by male colleagues, fast-forward to 2015, and you’ll see plenty of tweets reflecting this experience.
#EverydaySexism I come up with decent idea in meeting - am ignored. Minutes later man expresses same idea - is congratulated on brilliance.— Freya Hardy (@UrsulaGlitch) April 16, 2015
Sexism doesn’t just rear its head in the workplace. As some tweets are showing, it sometimes affects the kind of care people get from their doctors.
Being told by a male GP to go out and buy myself a new handbag when I was struggling with depression #EverydaySexism— Sophie (@Ms_Trill) April 16, 2015
Plenty of the tweets reveal what can happen to a woman who wants to work in a STEM field—such as medicine.
Being told going to med school will be tough because "as a woman you're going to get the urge to have children" #EverydaySexism— Kiran (@kooflan) April 16, 2015
Many are turning the spotlight on the all-too-common problem of catcalling.
#EverydaySexism a man old enough to be your dad screaming sexist, misogynistic comments at you from his car is apparently a "compliment"— sarisha (@sarishagoodman) April 16, 2015
But the harassment women face when they’re walking down the street isn’t always sexually graphic or violent.
When a guy says “Smile” and claims he’s only being friendly. If he’s so kind, why doesn’t he ask other guys to smile? #EverydaySexism— • Gabriel • (@GabrielAsar_) April 16, 2015
It’s no wonder, then, that artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is inviting people to put up posters on Friday as part of her “Stop Telling Women to Smile” street-art campaign.
Several of the tweets also reflect women’s frustration with the belief and expectation that most things they do revolve around snagging a boyfriend or husband.
People thinking I'm into football just to 'impress guys' #everydaysexism— Kate M (@Katee_Mx) April 16, 2015
The way women are sometimes shamed for breast-feeding in public is also being skewered by women—such as this one, who points out a societal double standard around nudity:
naked women being plastered on the front cover of magazines but breast feeding in public is seen as 'too inappropriate' #everydaysexism— rachel ♉️ (@rachelfeehan) April 16, 2015
Plenty of moms are also fed up with the notion that a man caring for his children—being a father—is an action worthy of special recognition.
But sexist attitudes about caring for children cut both ways. Both men and women have had it with the unfair way guys are treated and stereotyped when they want to play an equitable role in their families.
Several men are frustrated with the way guys aren’t allowed to express emotion or are pressured to ignore mental health issues.
Being told to 'man up' when suffering through tough times. #EverydaySexism— Tyler (@Skulburn) April 16, 2015
There is an expectation that I can just "toughen up" and "get over" depression/anxiety issues just because I'm male. #EverydaySexism— Richard Dive (@romeodeltabravo) April 16, 2015
The tweets are also showing how women are criticized for their weight, age, and clothing—and it turns out that not even teachers can escape from the scrutiny.
#everydaysexism is when your male students think its o.k. to comment on your appearance in the middle of a lesson— Roxanne Earley (@razzley) April 16, 2015
As several tweets from Grammy-nominated singer Alison Moyet show, too often a woman’s looks, not her talent, are what’s seen as most important.
Being asked by a journalist in an interview if I felt ashamed appearing on stage looking the way I do. #EveryDaySexism— Alison Moyet (@AlisonMoyet) April 16, 2015
Bates hopes that the outpouring of experiences on Twitter will inspire people to stand up to sexist behavior. Indeed, some of the stories that have been submitted over the years show that “hashtag activism” can catalyze real change.
“One group of teenage boys challenged sexism at their school by coming in wearing skirts to show solidarity with the girls. University students set up a new feminist society to protest sexual harassment on campus,” wrote Bates about some of the things youths have done. Adults are bravely standing up to sexism as well. “A woman sick of cold callers asking to speak to ‘the man of the house’ started putting them on with her six-year-old son. An employee whose male colleague loudly accused her of being on her period when she disagreed with him replied: ‘If I had to bleed to find you annoying, I’d be anaemic.’ ”
“Every one of us has a moment when prejudice or inequality crosses our path, and we have a choice to make,” she wrote. “Will you take a stand, or will you be the person who looks out of the window?”