The Everyday Sexism Project provides a platform for women and girls to share their experiences of daily gender imbalance, from ‘minor’ instances like wolf whistles to issues like street harassment and workplace discrimination to sexual assault and even rape.
Since its launch in April 2012, the project has amassed more than 30,000 women’s stories from all over the world and expanded to 16 countries worldwide. Women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations have added their voices – disabled and non-disabled, religious and non-religious, employed and unemployed. A 5-year old girl asked to be turned into a boy so she could go into space. A 7-year old disabled girl in a wheelchair and a 74-year old woman in a mobility scooter recorded almost identical experiences of shouted abuse about ‘female drivers.’
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.
And again and again, over and over, when women try to speak out about what is happening, they are told that they are ‘overreacting’, or ‘uptight’ – that they need to learn to ‘take a compliment’.
But something extraordinary started to happen. As word of the project spread and hit the national press around the world, from the Times of India to French Glamour to Grazia South Africa, women started writing in to say it have given them strength. Strength to realise they no longer had to accept harassment. That they had the right to say no. That they could report assault and demand that the police take it seriously. That they could talk to their families for the first time about having been raped.
We are creating a cultural shift. Letting young girls in schools and young women at university know that they DO have the right to say no. Changing the conversation on sexism and gender.
We are working with MPs to advise on new sex and relationships education, helping the police redefine how they tackle sexual offences, talking to Trade Unions about stamping out sexual harassment in the workplace- all using the evidence from the thousands of women who have added their voices to the project.
For every woman who writes her experience on the Everyday Sexism Project, we’re using the knowledge she shares to change things. Because our voices are loudest when we raise them together.