The Everyday Sexism Project exists to 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. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.

If you prefer to e-mail me at laura@everydaysexism.com I can upload your story for you instead. Follow us on Twitter (and submit entries by tweet) at @EverydaySexism.

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Holly

Today I bought a new (well, third-hand) car. My dad suggested he take a photo of me with it, and as he did, a passing man said, “If I buy the car, does the girl come free?”

There are several things that would explain my upset feelings here:

– he’s talking about me as though I’m a possession;
– he’s giving the car more value than me.. I’m a free gift to sweeten the deal, it seems;
– he’s talking to my dad as though he’s in a position to sell me/my car;
– he’s referring to me as a ‘girl’ (I am 30);

But the thing that annoyed me most in the moment was that I couldn’t say anything because he thought he was paying me a compliment.

To point out I was upset would seem brash, and to play along would be flirting. But he had good intentions. So I said nothing.

Then I felt upset on the way home, instead of enjoying my car!

Kitty

A couple of annoyances about sexism with regards to roles in relationships:

Some people seem to think that proposing marriage is a ‘man thing’ (i.e. the man should do it) on the grounds that it’s ‘traditional’ for it to be done that way. Last weekend, I was at a wedding reception, & I was party to a conversation where a couple of people were saying as much. To add insult to injury, two of them were women, & one of the women was my sister- a very intelligent young woman, who I thought was quite liberal-minded. She also said something along the lines of how her now-husband (my brother-in-law) wouldn’t have liked it if she’d proposed to him. Whyever not?! Why shouldn’t the woman propose to the man, for heaven’s sake? Talk about sexist, patriarchal & outdated ideas! That conversation annoyed me, & I remember sighing exasperatedly while it was going on. I didn’t want to challenge them on the grounds that I didn’t want to get into an argument, cause a scene & make things even more uncomfortable for the bride’s brother (my sister was talking to him & his girlfriend) than they were already that day.

Another gripe revolves round same-sex relationships. Some people seem to think that in such relationships, one partner is the ‘man’ & the other is the ‘woman’. Surely that’s missing the point of a same-sex relationship? Homophobia AND gender stereotyping here, folks.

LR

I’m 14, but every time I’m in the city I get catcalled or winked at. When I tell someone, they tell me to just cross the road. Why should I have to cross the road but they don’t have to get some common decency?

Olivia

Why part of me hates wearing shorts in the summer even though I have great legs: 1. Wolf-whistled within 10 seconds of leaving the house. 2. Minutes later the TFL attendant stops me as I’m about to go through the ticket gates. “Wo wo miss stop.” Coming over to me. I thought he was about to say the tube’s closed. “My gates get very wobbly when they see beautiful women. Just be careful yeh. They get wobbly. Be careful.” Out of habit, from a lifetime of being taught to please others and not to ‘rock the boat’ or offend anyone, I dutifully smile. Then I remember that I don’t have to pretend that I find this flattering anymore. It’s tiring. I can acknowledge what this really is – weird and creepy. Being harassed as I begin my commute of an afternoon by a middle-aged, balding, fat man who is supposed to be in a position of authority for my safety and security on the tube and responsible for my customer satisfaction. I drop my smile with immediate effect and it crashes to the floor as I finally locate my oyster card and march through the barriers with attitude. He didn’t mean it in a bad way. He thought he was being kind and funny and friendly. (But I’m thinking what if that’s because we’ve been silent for too long and just ‘ignoring’ it? With the result that he and too many others are blissfully unaware of the effects of their actions) And I feel anything but. I felt on top of the world as I left the house and now I feel ridiculed, self-conscious, vulnerable, fed-up, tired, small, insignificant, unimportant, sad, upset, angry, unable to look at anyone on the tube and paranoid that everyone was looking at me, looking me up and down, letchilously. I know that’s not a word yet but it should be. Looking around, there aren’t that many people wearing shorts considering the heat and considering what great legs Londoners normally have from all that walking. Maybe this is why. It’s summer. It’s hot. I’m wearing shorts. They’re called legs. Most people have got them. Get over it. Please don’t make me feel like some weird sex-alien for having legs. This is not exceptional. This is “normal”. I just felt compelled to write. Mainly for therapy. (I also posted this on my facebook and instagram and is now one of my most popular posts in terms of reaction, which just highlights the need for all of this!)

Hannah

I have a male relative who is famous in our family for being very rude on Facebook. If you ever post something he doesn’t agree with, he will blast you for it in the comment section. I’ve never been a particularly controversial person on Facebook and tend to steer towards feel good, humorous stuff, but recently I started sharing things pertaining to feminism and issues surrounding it. He, as you can probably guess, wasn’t too fond of it.

The first incident was when I shared a picture of a tweet by a girl named Chloe Cheek about the Brock Turner trial which said “rape culture is victim shaming a woman for being ‘too drunk’, then defending a man by saying his actions were influenced by alcohol”. My relative went on to comment with “there is no such thing as “rape culture” and if a woman chooses to get drunk if ANYONE!!! chooses to drink…they get EVERYTHING that comes with it. sorry! that’s the plain truth of it”

first of all, what the actual heck? How on earth can you ever insinuate that a woman deserved to get raped? Under any circumstances? I understand that he and I both come from a christian perspective that being drunk is sinful, but I don’t believe that just because you sin means you deserve to have bad things happen to you. No human being deserves to get raped. Period. God does not punish a woman’s sins by making a man rape her.

That was his first offense, and I let it slide because A. I’m not a controversial person, and B. I know he’s the kind of person who will never have his mind changed. His beliefs are rooted too deeply. and when a stubborn man think God is telling him something in particular, nothing but an act of God is going to make him see his ways. So I responded with an “Okey dokey, artichokey” and left it at that.

But today another incident happened.

I posted an Emma Watson quote that stated “If you stand for equality, you’re a feminist. I’m sorry to tell you.” seemingly harmless, right? Something a young woman should be able to post on Facebook without being insulted and degraded simply for the fact that she has a vagina and not a penis, right? WRONG.

Him: oh. my. God. ugh…I don’t even know where to start.

Me: Then don’t. Neither one of us will convince the other to see things the way we see them and our opinions aren’t hurting or affecting each other at all, so we’re both better off just agreeing to disagree and nobody gets hurt feelings. Sometimes we just have to choose our battles. So thanks for not starting. 🙂

I was being so kind and accepting of our differences in opinions, right? Surely that merits me at least a little bit of respect for being a human.

Him: well feminist lies are not opinions per se. and yes the spread of them does hurt. it hurts men. it relations between men and women. and it hurts gullible young women who refuse to learn better. there. that is where I started. and stopped.

There he goes. I am simultaneously told that A. Because he sees my opinion as a lie it means that I am automatically stripped of even having an opinion, B. That I am just a gullible young woman who refuses to learn better, and C. That I am hurting men and my relationship to my fiance by wanting to get equal pay if, say, me and a man are both working a job and have the same qualifications, and also because I don’t want to, you know, have to worry about being RAPED every time I walk out of my house without a man I trust with me.

I have bad anxiety where when someone says something mean or degrading to me, my heart starts pounding, I can’t think straight, and I start to cry. This is not the first time this man has made me cry, but it is the first time he’s treated me like a lesser human.

My older sister, who has had lots of battles with this man, including over feminism, gave me the advice to not rise to his bait or act angry, because it will just infuriate him more if I act nonchalant about his rude attitude. But it just made me so sick.

That’s when I started to think about how he can only make me feel small and lesser if I let him. That I cannot stop making my voice heard just because he wants to shame and scare me into being a good submissive woman. That’s when I got my idea.

This may sound a little crazy and obsessive, but for the last hour I’ve been stockpiling bookmarks of feminist quotes, pictures, articles, everything….and I’ve decided to periodically post them. I feel like he will either see that I am standing my ground and give up, or he’ll continue to make a fool of himself on my posts and eventually I won’t get that heart pounding, blurry thoughts, teary eyed moment that he usually makes me have. It’s a win/win.

So with that being said, I know that this is not nearly as bad as what a lot of women face on a day to day basis, but this is my story. I wanted to get it out there and share that sometimes a misogynistic man who picks on little girls can end up being just the fuel that makes that girl finally decide to stand up for what she believes in.

emma

i was a domestic violence victim and i didn’t even know it.

i’ve always been really selective with who i trusted, which made it all the worse. i was best friends with a guy for a few years before i started sleeping with him. i made it clear i had no romantic feelings for him, and if either of us did we should stop. he agreed. two years later, i told him i wanted to stop because i had met someone through work i did feel romantically for. this was a big deal for me because of my trust issues and so had never dated. by this point we had not slept together for more than three months. he spent more than four hours telling me he wasn’t ready to stop, guilted me into thinking i wasn’t trying hard enough because couldn’t i see he was trying so hard for me? confused, i told him that we weren’t in a relationship. that i had restated this many times over the two year period we had this agreement to the point where he verbalised he was sick of hearing it. i told him i no longer wanted to, but he was insistent.

when i realised that the person i was interested with was also interested in me, we began seeing each other. i told my best friend, whom by this point i had not slept with for six months. his response was to punch the wooden headboard of my bed in, then put his hands around my neck and squeezed, all the while crying and screaming and saying i had cheated on him, how could i do this to him, after all he’s done for me, didn’t i value him at all? he then called his work to say he wasn’t coming in, then forced me to call my work (with an hour’s notice) to say i wasn’t coming in because we were going to “talk about it”.

i then had to remain in his company for the next seven hours as he told me how disappointed he was, the lengths he’d gone to for me, what he’d sacrificed for me, all through tears and shouting to hissing how i could possibly do this to him. he called me names, he said he hoped my sister would die (knowing she’s the person who means the most to me) so i could feel what he was feeling. he then said he was angry, but also horny. he kept repeating it. i felt sick to my stomach – i was still reeling at how quickly everything had imploded and how something i thought i wasn’t in the wrong about suddenly seemed exactly that. i suddenly thought that maybe i had misjudged, maybe i hadn’t made the situation clear enough. if i was in the wrong, i had to make amends. we had sex. by the end i was crying. i still have not felt lower than that moment.

when you can’t do either of your body’s natural defence mechanisms of fight or flight, you can only submit. i thought of calling the police but just as quickly squashed it. i’d caused enough trouble anyway, why bring other people into this? this was my fault anyway. they’d only agree with him. the person i was seeing was also working that night. he’d left me multiple worried messages and missed calls. i’ve never told him the physical and sexual parts because i was so ashamed. i felt like it i’d brought it on myself, felt horrified and sick that i had cheated on him. by the end of that seven hours i was willing to do nearly anything just so he would leave. i felt like a prisoner, like i was physically suffocating. i’d never felt so powerless. he then said he was willing to forgive me if i did two things: if i stopped all contact with the person i was seeing and his brother (who i also worked with) which included deleting their numbers and their accounts off all social media. i also had to quit my job. for a moment, it was all too much and i said no. the screaming started again and after another hour or so i agreed out of sheer desperation to just get him away from me.

i didn’t stop seeing him but the damage was done. i lost the relationship i had with the first person i’d ever considered dating. my (now former) best friend’s circle of friends still believe i cheated, and until recently i blamed myself for all of it.

MM

One of the top executives at my firm asked me to write a presentation for him for an industry event – which I did.

He calls me afterwards to say he added a slide & that he had told the audience I would laugh when I saw it. He sent me the extra slide and I was horrified to see it said: ‘good presentations should be like a mini skirt… Short enough to retain interest, long enough to cover the subject matter’.

I saw him a few days later. He was very pleased with his witty slide & asked if I thought it was funny. I had thought long and hard what to say… I was going to ask what the ‘subject matter was’? In the end I simply said I found it highly sexist & offensive and not becoming of someone who was an executive & not appropriate for our company. He looked quite shocked and the incident was never mentioned again.

V.

I’m a computer engineering technologist and my entire post-secondary experience was overshadowed with sexism.

When I applied to the program I was called into the program chair’s office. I thought there was something wrong with my application, but it turns out this was standard procedure with all women who applied. “We talk to all women before they apply – We check what their background in computers is so that they don’t waste their time with this diploma. You might be the only woman in your class. Are you okay with that?”

In my second week of class I wore a dress one day. One of my classmates told me I was “too pretty to be in this program.” Another said that I must make great sandwiches, and a third offered one-on-one study sessions at his place and got really offended when I called out what that was.

I had to defend the only other two women in the program because they were getting harassed by my classmates. They were foreign students and were scared to speak up lest they get kicked out of the program. They were getting sexually suggestive text messages, told that their religious garb “covered them up too much” and asked if they knew what certain sexual positions were (since they were learning English). I yelled down a group of ten students and thankfully they left them alone after that.

One of the women said to me, “My country has a bad reputation for its treatment of women, but I’ve never been treated like this until I came to this school.”

Biance

On the train aged eleven. Two drunk guys next to me started sucking each others dicks and moaning.
I had severe anxiety about orgasms in any way for a year.