The 21st century has been an awakening on many levels. While the feminist movement continues to gain steam, the idea of true gender equality remains an abstraction. It’s a simple truth that the Everyday Sexism Project is trying to capture.
With more than 100,000 stories, the project has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. British Author Laura Bates started this initiative back in 2012 to chronicle real experiences with daily, normalized sexism — from street harassment and workplace discrimination, to sexual assault and rape.
“People didn’t realize that this was something that’s occurring every day,” she says. “When I tried to talk about gender inequality and sexism four years ago, people said to me, ‘No, sexism doesn’t exist anymore. Women are equal now — there is no problem.’ So the term ‘Everyday Sexism’ was partly born out of frustration.”
When Bates began the project, she spoke with hundreds of women and girls about their experiences with sexism. Some had experiences that began before birth.
One woman found out “that when her mother had her first sonogram, her father’s response was, ‘Oh God they’re twins, and they’re also both girls’ — like that was a kind of disaster,” Bates says. “We heard the other day from the mother of a toddler who was 3 years old. This little girl picked up a stethoscope at a playgroup, and immediately, one of the other parents swooped in and said, ‘Oh look, you’re going to be a nurse.’”
Bates says that even pre-teen girls have reached out to the Everyday Sexism Project to share stories of sexism and harassment.
“I think it’s absolutely shocking,” she says. “These girls are so young, and they’re in their school uniforms quite often, and they’re on their way to school, and they’re being shouted at in the street, they’re being groped, they’re being touched, they’re being followed and approached. It’s really a big shock to recognize just how early this is starting."