Feminist Book Club: Everyday Sexism

Feminist Book Club

Are you a tired feminist who is looking for a book to throw at oppressors? I highly recommend Laura Bate’s Everyday Sexism. 

 

SUMMARY

After experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates started the #everydaysexism project and has gone on to write ‘a pioneering analysis of modern day misogyny’ (Telegraph).

REVIEW

Back in early 2015, when I first started becoming more outspoken on feminist issues, this was one of the first books I knew I wanted to read. The moment I had a spare chance, I rushed down to my nearest Waterstones (which isn’t actually that near, fyi) and scoured the shelves for this very book. I found the book but I didn’t buy it. I read through a couple of pages and felt completely overwhelmed. Fast forward to a year later and I’m reading it; I’m not going to lie and tell you it wasn’t an overwhelming read, because it was. But it’s definitely an essential one.

When I talk about feminism, one of the most common responses I’m met with is “sexism isn’t real“. If you truly believe that, this is the book you really need to read. A lot of people overlook sexism because they don’t experience it. But the truth is, you probably do; you just don’t know it. That sounds patronising but internalised misogyny is real and it takes a woman years to unlearn all the wrongs she’s been taught. Just because you don’t experience something, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I don’t experience racism, that doesn’t mean thousands of women of colour don’t either. (Spoiler alert: they do.) It’s easy to over look something when it’s not happening to us, but it’s not fair to erase other’s experiences. Thankfully, Everyday Sexism makes it impossible to deny or ignore other women’s experiences. Each chapter tackles a different feminist issue (i.e. girls, women in politics and so on), Bates eloquently summarises what’s wrong and what needs to change for women in the United Kingdom. Every chapter begins with harrowing quotes by women from all walks of life, followed by gut-wrenching stats to back it up.

WHAT DID OTHERS THINK?

kittyA comprehensive study of the kind of sexism faced by ‘western’ women throughout their lives, some of the superlatives showcased on the front cover of Laura Bates’ book ‘Everyday Sexism’ praise the book as ‘pioneering’ and ‘game-changing’. To those already literate in most basic feminist issues, the contents, whilst almost encyclopaedic, will be more cathartic than metamorphic.
However, many young girls are not literate in feminist issues, many young girls are unaware of the feminist movement at all, and to those women this book may just be a game-changer. The most accurate way to describe this book is as an introduction to the feminist issues that women in the United Kingdom and United States face day-to-day throughout their lives. The examples range from serious sexual assault to the more well-meaning but still incredibly harmful comments heard everyday.
Quite often, women who voice concerns over these everyday sexisms, are told to hush down and think about ‘more important issues’ or ‘get a sense of humour’. On a case by case basis, just hearing one of these stories, the idea that we still live in a society that still sees women as expendable objects through a lens of sex, violence and entitlement could be dismissed, but put together into one mammoth study, it is clear that these ‘small’ incidents play a larger part in the disadvantaged way women are still treated in today’s world.
To those who dismiss the ‘smaller’ issues, from having women on banknotes to comedians making sexist jokes, as being unimportant, this book has one very clear message; everything is connected. In the words of Laura Bates herself “inequality is a continuum, with the minor and the major incidents irrevocably related to one another as the attitudes and ideas that underlie one allow the other to flourish.”
Guaranteed to anger, enrage and empower, this book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in the feminist movement and women’s lives in the 21st century.

 

– Kitty Wenham (@kittywenham)
Kitty Writes Stuff

Ruebi RooThere are some books that cut right to the core of your being, that take hold of your thoughts and twist them into the realms of difficult conversations and never ending questions, that make you go through the motions, that show you the world you live in is not the world you believe it to be. Or maybe it is the world you believe it to be, but now your fears have been validated. To me, this book was all this and more.  

It highlights that fighting sexism is not about being a ‘man-hater’ (after all, men experience discrimination because of their gender too), it is about the abuse, oppression and objectivity by which women live each day. It is this abuse, oppression and objectification that is accepted as the norm, it is a silent, dangerous and (in some cases) deadly disease that still harbours within society.

This book isn’t just the author’s voice on the matter, it includes the voices of hundreds of women from various age groups too. The hundreds of voices that are failing to be heard and struggling to understand why there is still so much victim blaming when it comes to assaults, harassment, violence, and even murder. Why do we still carry a lower monetary worth than our male counterparts in the work place? Why are our bodies are still not considered our own? Why we are defined by our appearances rather than our intellect and merit? Why we have to carry keys between our fingers as we walk alone (even in broad daylight) in case we are attacked? Why when share our experiences are we told we’re being overly sensitive? Why are we repeatedly told to accept this? Why are we taught to be ashamed of it?

everyday sexism

Every sticky note is a part of the book I can relate to … Actually, it’s not just something I can relate to, it is something I’ve experienced.

“1 in 3 women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime” – UN 2008

“In the UK over 2 women per week on average are killed by a current or former partner” – Coleman & Osborne, 2010; Department of Health, 2013


Sexism is rife in society and (in the words of Laura Bates), enough is enough.

 

– Ruebi Bailey (@ruebi_lhb)
Lancashire Hotbot

 

 

Previous book: The Yellow Wallpaper
Next book: The Bloody Chamber

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32 Comments

  1. Rhian Westbury February 19, 2016 / 12:29 pm

    I might have to add this to my to read list because i’ve heard loads of great things about it x

  2. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy February 19, 2016 / 12:43 pm

    It’s always a bit of a moment when you can find a book that you can relate to so much. Sadly I haven’t experienced that for a while – I need to read more.

  3. Idaintyit February 19, 2016 / 12:48 pm

    This looks like such a good read! I had no idea the amount of women being hit was so high! A powerful post

  4. Shareen HD February 19, 2016 / 1:36 pm

    Hmm I wouldn’t consider myself a feminist at all and I generally find it hard to read most political books but maybe one day I will consider this if I manage to change my mind and go for something a bit deeper!

    • Tara | C&CO. February 19, 2016 / 1:39 pm

      Do you want equal right for all genders? If you do, you’re a feminist.

  5. Shareen HD February 19, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    I didn’t think of it like that. I want most things equal – pay, career opportunities off the top of my head. I think it’s something I should really think about x

    • Tara | C&CO. February 19, 2016 / 2:45 pm

      I can totally understand why people want to refrain from using that label because there are some real damaging stereotypes out there for feminists. You just need to familiarise yourself with actual feminists, then you’ll be proud to call yourself one. That’s what happened for me anyways.

  6. Mellissa Williams February 19, 2016 / 2:25 pm

    Everyday Sexism does sound really interesting. When I was training to be a nurse 20 or so years ago, my manager thought of nothing of propositioning me and I thought he was a sleaze bag but didn’t report it. It some ways it was the ‘norm’. Today it would be viewed as sexual harassment. Society has come so far but I wonder if we will ever be seen as equal to men. Look at the inequalities in pay in Hollywood for example.

  7. Sarah Bailey February 19, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    Ohh I’ve not heard of this book before – I’m going to have to go and put it on my too buy list though as it sounds like an interesting read. x

  8. Laura Hartley (@WhatsHotBlog) February 19, 2016 / 3:31 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about this book and it is definitely on my to be read list. I hate it when people say sexism doesn’t exist – are they blind/deaf?!

  9. Papatia February 19, 2016 / 5:04 pm

    I want to read it. Women are plagued by unfair sexism a lot of times.

  10. Candace February 19, 2016 / 6:30 pm

    I’ve heard from someone else this is a must read. Perhaps I ought to have a look

  11. Claire'scomfycorner February 19, 2016 / 6:37 pm

    This sounds like a great read, I’m going to have to put it on my list 🙂

  12. Katie Davies February 19, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    This sounds like a great holiday reas

  13. Emma White (@TheRealSupermum) February 19, 2016 / 8:59 pm

    “1 in 3 women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime” – UN 2008

    “In the UK over 2 women per week on average are killed by a current or former partner” – Coleman & Osborne, 2010; Department of Health, 2013

    I spent 11 years being beaten and raped and mentally tortured at the hands of my first husband …..I still do not trust men at all and am very much for girl power – I do not need a man

  14. Tori Gabriel February 19, 2016 / 9:36 pm

    Wow! This sounds like a life changer! I am now off to see if the play store have it available to purchase.

  15. Le Coin de Mel February 20, 2016 / 2:34 am

    I’ve not heard about this book and it sounds like you relate to so much of it (how many of these tabs do you have in there?). I’ll look into it

  16. Elizabeth February 20, 2016 / 7:22 am

    Sounds like an interesting read. I’m becoming more and more interested in feminism (less of the throwing books at people type, but the having intelligent conversations and teaching my kids properly type). I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  17. Ana De Jesus February 20, 2016 / 10:09 am

    I like that it highlights even the subtle forms of sexism that women face every day i.e. cat calling which I see as extremely offensive and uncalled for and when I call men out for being sexist they call me all the names under the sun. I think my favourite was when a group of guys thought it would be funny to target a young woman alone at night thinking that I am going to sit back and simper and take their word as the law and order of society. They laughed at me as I walked past and made obscene gestures and loudly commenting on how they degrade women and because I was wearing a short skirt it meant ‘I was up for it’. Now it might not have been the brightest thing to respond but risk my life or not I was not going to let them slander females like that! I turned around and told them that regardless of what women are wearing it does make them passive vessels for patriarchal consumption and that we should not be reduced to just a body. They got quite aggressive and I just held my head up high and reinstated my point.

  18. kacielmorgan February 20, 2016 / 1:57 pm

    Sexism definitely still exists to an extent, but I agree that it’s often hidden. I think id enjoy this book!

  19. Rachel February 20, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    It sounds like an interesting read though it isnt for me, Crime Thrillers are the only thing I can read as a form of a escapism right now x

  20. Liz Mays February 20, 2016 / 5:13 pm

    It’s incredible when a book speaks to you on such a deep level like that. I think it’s awesome how many sections you marked!

  21. Lauren Aitchison (@thetartandevil) February 20, 2016 / 6:25 pm

    I was so familiar with the Everyday Sexism project, that I was actually a bit sceptical about how much I would get out of the book. I had read all of Laura Bates’ articles religiously as well as checking the website and twitter regularly.
    My god, I sobbed my eyes out during the chapter about sexual coercion. I had just got out of an abusive relationship and hadn’t even considered that was a thing. It was such a lightbulb moment for me. What a fantastic book.

  22. Beth February 20, 2016 / 9:52 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post, Tara! I read Everyday Sexism last year and it was such a huge eye opener for me, even though I always considered myself to be quite aware of sexism – apparently not! I would recommend this book to everyone xx

    Toasty

  23. leeshastarr February 20, 2016 / 10:45 pm

    I’ve not heard of the Everyday Sexism project. It’s a shame you can relate to so much in the book. I’ll love to give it a little read

  24. jennalouiselloyd February 21, 2016 / 1:58 pm

    Ruebi’s picture is powerful stuff. I remember reading this and thinking how much of it resonated with me but to see it bookmarked like that… how could anyone deny everyday sexism with that kind of evidence? Great book.

  25. life as mum February 21, 2016 / 9:41 pm

    I’ve not heard of this book before but looks pretty interesting.

  26. Thanks Tara, you’ve reminded me that I have to get this book – I meant to buy it a while back and it totally slipped my mind. Do you follow @everydaysexism on Twitter too? x

  27. Alex February 23, 2016 / 2:07 am

    Going on the library list. Not in any small part because of the sheer number of sticky notes you’ve got in there. Like what I do to my film textbooks and Lord of the Flies (not missing the irony that there’s not a single female in Flies…)

  28. Donah @ SweetJellyBean February 29, 2016 / 4:11 pm

    I am very interested in reading this. Thank you for reviewing and sharing it here. Will see if I can get a hard copy from Amazon.

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