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Sexism's not still a thing, is it?

Heidi Scrimgeour's picture
How internet trolls helped prove the point that sexism is indeed 'a thing.'
How internet trolls helped prove the point that sexism is indeed 'a thing.'

A glance through the Twitter feed of The Everyday Sexism Project makes for sobering reading at the best of times, particularly for folks who inhabit one of those planets where sexism is a thing of the past. (We’d love to visit sometime. What a lovely place it must be...)

Set up by Laura Bates to collate women’s experiences of sexism and prove that sexism does indeed ‘still exist’, The Everyday Sexism Project publishes women’s anonymous accounts of sexism and gender prejudice. Its mission is: “to catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.”

Writing for The Guardian Laura explains how women of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities began to share their stories with her:

“A girl in Pakistan described hiding sexual abuse for the sake of "family honour". A woman in Brazil was harassed by three men who tried to drag her into their car when she ignored them. In Germany, a woman had her crotch and bottom groped so frequently she described it as "the norm". In Mexico, a university student was told by her professor: "Calladita te ves mas bonita" (you look prettier when you shut up). In Israel, a teacher with a master's degree who speaks six languages was told she "wasn't a good enough homemaker for my future husband". In France, a man exposed himself to 12- and 16-year-old sisters as they tried to picnic in a public park. On a bus in India, a woman was too afraid to report the man pressing his erect penis into her back.”

Laura took part in Wednesday night’s Newsnight  which featured a piece on how "a new wave of contemporary feminists is harnessing technology to try to challenge stereotypes and make change." The Everyday Sexism project started the hashtag #NNSexism and invited women to use it to tweet their experiences of sexism to demonstrate to Newsnight “how bad the problem still is”. Over 2000 women shared their experiences of harassment, assault, abuse and rape.

And then along came the trolls. That should come as no surprise, since Laura has also written about the backlash she’s encountered since starting The Everyday Sexism Project. In the same Guardian article she writes: “One of the earliest entries read: "You experience sexism because women are inferior in every single way to men. The only reason you have been put on this planet is so we can fuck you." The message ended: "Please die." The sheer level of vitriol took me by surprise, as hate-filled missives poured in, ranging from graphic descriptions of domestic violence to threats of torture, death and rape.”


Heidi Scrimgeour's picture
Heidi Scrimgeour Originally from London but now based on the Causeway coast of Northern Ireland, Heidi is a former PR Executive turned freelance journalist and Deputy Editor of SWSC. She has written for a wide range of national newspapers including the Sunday Telegraph, Irish Independent, The Times, Guardian, Daily Express and the Daily Mail, and for a variety of magazines including Gurgle, Top Sante, Grazia and Stylist. She's also the mother of two rambunctious boys and one baby girl, and is married to a quirky Scotsman. Heidi appreciates espresso martinis, her Kindle, and running by the sea.

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