Everyday Sexism – And why I can’t follow it anymore

Warning – Some of you may find this post triggering.

There is a Twitter account called Everyday Sexism, which I’ve been following for the last couple of months. Until today that is.

Various friends had been retweeting their stuff and it looked interesting. A chance to call out people/companies for lazy stereotyping, rubbish ad campaigns and so on. I duly got following and found it thought provoking. In the last few weeks, they’ve been encouraging their followers to report tales of sexual harassment/assault and tales of workplace sexism using various hashtags. It has been shocking, shocking stuff. The most awful stories of abuse, of victim blaming and of absolute rank sexism. It has been non-stop and I have reached the point where I can’t take any more of it, for a few different reasons.

It’s profoundly depressing stuff. At its worse there are tales of men publically masturbating over women, sexual assault, groping and an overuse of the word rape (it’s a joke word now, apparently) that I find repugnant. I applaud the bravery of the women who are sharing these stories and I share their anger at our criminal justice system which seems unable to deal with the perpetrators. I don’t want to read about it with the frequency I have been. For me, Twitter is a fun place, where I keep in touch with friends and occasionally learn some new things.

I have been lucky enough to never find myself in the position some of these women have found themselves in. Sure, I’ve come across my fair share of drunken arseholes, but generally they’ve been ignored and that has been that. A number of the stories have related to abuse doled out to women while they’ve been walking alone or out for a run. I run solo a fair bit of the time and  I cannot tell you the number of times I have walked home, alone, at night. In Glasgow , in Dundee, in Aberdeen . Previously, I haven’t given it a thought, but in the last few weeks, the experiences I have been reading about have been lurking in the back of my mind and I won’t have it. These are my streets; I have every right to be there. I don’t feel scared, I won’t feel scared and I will not have that taken away from me.

I’m probably most nervous about this next bit. I find myself rolling my eyes at some of the stories – ticket collector called the two males passengers ‘sir’ and called me ‘darling’, for example. Honestly? In the grand scheme of things, that is the fight you are picking? I call people darling, pet, honey, sweetheart, m’dear, quine, hen, whatever, all the time. Maybe it bugs the life out of them (speak now or forever hold your peace) maybe it doesn’t. Does this make me a bad feminist? Am I not showing the requisite solidarity with my sisters? Should I be birching myself while reading aloud from The Female Eunuch? I don’t know. What I do know is – as far as I am concerned – there are bigger fights to be fought and focusing on things like this just fuels the misogynist view that we’re all a bunch of complaining wimmin who should just learn to take a compliment/be at home with the kids anyway.

Maybe this all makes you think less of me, maybe you think more of me. The end result is the same – I am no longer following this Twitter account. However, if you think it would be of interest to you, you can check them out @EverydaySexism or www.everydaysexism.com

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About paddymade

Thirtysomething PR type, Northern Ireland born and bred, now residing in Aberdeen. I drink tea (a lot), swear (loudly) and craft (badly) This is my little corner of the internet, pull up a chair and get comfortable :)
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5 Responses to Everyday Sexism – And why I can’t follow it anymore

  1. Suzy Marie says:

    Yes!! I don’t follow it but I’ve seen glimpses of it through retweets etc. A guy I know wrote a post for me about it because he was openly ‘attacked’ by a woman following Everyday Sexism for asking her about one of her tweets. She called him a sexist. That isn’t feminist to me, a complete refusal to talk through your arguments.

    I agree with the ‘darling’ stuff too. Also, there are some people who post things that are easy targets to be called ‘sexist’ when really there are much more complicated issues at hand in what they have posted. I think Everyday Sexism promotes that quick judgement which isn’t what feminism needs. It needs measured, rational argument that considers all points of view and all of the ways that gender operates.

    Great post!

  2. lirazelf says:

    Interesting post. It doesn’t make you a bad feminist, not IMO.

    But it is about “everyday” sexism. Which *does* include the inherent, embedded, insidious sexism ingrained within language use and street harassment, which many of us normalise and tolerate. Whether you choose to do so is down to the individual, and it’s a choice that oftimes depends on circumstance. Being called “darling” “pet” “hen” “quine” or indeed “cunt” is not always a term of endearment nor of offence.

    Posting to ES (about any issue) isn’t so much “picking a fight”, it’s about participating in a project which aims to illuminate the incessant nature of this shit, and challenging the pervading notion that we live in some sort of rosy post-feminist world where we’re all equal and it’s all hunky dory and we don’t need to worry about the wimmin’s rights anymore, cos like, all those people who do are just man-hating lezzers, hairy-legged frigid bitches who’d do a lot better if they just got a good raping HUR HUR HUR IT’S JUST BANTER, FUCK’S SAKE.

    Which doesn’t seem to be getting any less prevalent. And indeed, in some places it feels sometimes like it’s getting positively more so, where those with privilege (of whatever kind)* stubbornly refuse to examine that privilege, or indeed acknowledge that it exists. And thus the problem persists.

    Sexism isn’t just rape and sexual assault. It’s not one thing on its own. It’s not just the ticket guy, or the barman, the grope in the club or the shout from the car, the glass ceiling, the unequal pay, the inequality of parental leave, the question about your engagement ring, the assumption that you were asking for it, the transformation of your body into public property…. It’s every day, all the time, from all sides. And yeah, that can be hella depressing. And it’s exhausting.

    Are there more pressing things to worry about than being called “darling” when the man next to you is called “Sir”? Yes, probably. But they have the same root cause. They stem from the same place. And you don’t need to apologise, nor feel ashamed or embarrassed about pointing that out.

    *(Does this analysis need to be cut through with an understanding of kyriarchy and intersectionality? Yes.)

    • paddymade says:

      See, I knew you’d come back with a good response. I absolutely agree with what you’re saying. It is everyday and it does need to be highlighted. We haven’t ‘won’, it isn’t ‘finished’. I suppose what I’m saying here is – perhaps selfishly – I don’t want to hear it. I’m exhausted by it. Does that make sense?

      • lirazelf says:

        Yes, absolutely. Like all things, take in moderation. But never ever quit. 🙂

      • Yes. I agree with both you. I could write at length about my own experiences and what’s unacceptable and why it’s unacceptable and why it’s important that we keep shouting about it. But I also want to have places in my life (ugh, am I calling Twitter a “place”?) where I can go and know that I can switch off from the bad stuff for a while and just hang out with a bunch of lovely, funny, intelligent people.

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