A new project out of the UK is cataloging instances of “everyday sexism,” from the minor occurrences to the outrageous offenses. According to the project website, “It seems to be increasingly difficult to talk about sexism, equality and women’s rights in a modern society that perceives itself to have achieved gender equality. The Everyday Sexism Project aims to take a step towards gender equality, by proving wrong those who tell women that they can’t complain because we are equal.”
Women are encouraged to share their stories of everyday sexism on the website and post them on Twitter using the hashtag #everydaysexism. Many women have called out the magazine industry for categorizing science, sports and news publications as “Men’s Interest” while the “Women’s Interest” sections only include beauty, fashion and decorating magazines. Another common refrain is being told to smile by men at work, on the street and in the store; as if women exist only to look pleasant and pretty.
Some of my own experiences of everyday sexism include:
- When my boss said only the female interns could answer the phone because, “Customers expect to hear a woman’s voice when they call a business.”
- When waiters bring the check to my male dining companion assuming the man is paying the bill.
- When at a technology conference two of the presenting start-ups used pictures of bikini-clad women in their PowerPoint presentations.
- When at a sports tradeshow in Europe, vendors kept referring to my boss as my husband.
- And my personal favorite, when breaking down an exhibit at a tradeshow, my male coworker grabbed the pocketknife out of my hands and said, “Women shouldn’t use knives. They could cut themselves.” He proceeded to cut himself.
What everyday sexism do you experience?