Musings on ‘Everyday Sexism’ by Laura Bates

Hi everyone! I’ve decided it would be fun to start a book series on the blog for me to keep track of what I read. This is a great place to keep quotes that strike me from books, which I like to jot down as I read sometimes.

My recent read is Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project. She set up a website where you can ‘catalogue instances of sexism experienced 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.’

It is a fantastic read that takes entries from the project and discusses them in depth. Bates explores women in politics, women in the workplace, media pressure, double standards, body image, sexual assault, street harassment, intersectionality, motherhood and the silencing of women. I think every woman can relate to something in the book.

Published in 2014, it deals with (unfortunately) topical issues, including reproductive rights, so I would recommend it to anybody interested in the Irish abortion rights Repeal the 8th campaign. It would also be an enlightening read for men to hear women’s perspectives on sexism. There are many testimonials in the book from men who decided to rethink their behaviour and attitudes as they found reading the project’s web entries such an eye-opening experience.

Here are some of my favourite quotes from Everyday Sexism:

On silencing: ‘Three powerful silencing factors-the invisibility of the problem, the social acceptance of it, and the blaming of victims.’

On workplace sexism: ‘Many perpetrators may not understand that their actions are unacceptable, due to massive normalization.’

On reproduction: ‘A definition of womanhood based on a presumed ability and desperation to procreate is incredibly heteronormative, and gender essentialist too.’

‘Worldwide, one of the most basic forms of sustained gender prejudice is the denial of women’s control over their own bodies and reproductive systems.’

‘We need to let go of the stubborn belief that providing a vessel for a fetus is the pinnacle of female purpose and achievement.’

On abortion: ‘In among the censorious pseudoreligious, moralistic panic that forms the mainstay of most political debates about abortion, stories from real women are notably  lacking.’

 ‘…puritanical, archaic objections to female autonomy.’

On stereotypes of man-hating feminists and the ‘unproductive tarring of all men with a single brush’: ‘The idea that roughly half the world’s population exhibits the same strengths and flaws, behaviours and beliefs is the ridiculous notion I spend most of my time debunking on behalf of women.’

On men who don’t believe in sexism: ‘For some men- usually those who haven’t experienced prejudice themselves- the idea of protecting women from sexism feels akin to offering “special treatment”.’

On sexism: ‘Tackling sexism is no more about suggesting that all men are sexist than fighting homophobia means accusing every straight person of it. Nor is it about suggesting that all women are victims. Rather it is about giving a voice to victims who have never been heard before because their oppression has become so normalized as to be accepted.’

Have any of you read it? If not, I suggest adding it to your reading list ASAP. It can be part of your 52 book challenge. 🙂

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