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 firstname.lastname@example.org I can upload your story for you instead. Follow us on Twitter (and submit entries by tweet) at @EverydaySexism.
I still have trouble sleeping in a new place. I hear every sound and wake to every light. I have to double lock the door. I am afraid to take anything to help me sleep because as a child, whenever I was sleeping soundly, I would wake to being sexually assaulted in my own bed. I would fight him off when I could get myself awake but you know how hard little children sleep. Our bedroom was just feet from my parents and my mother would wake up to every sound EXCEPT the sound of my sibling assaulting me and my fighting him off. This older brother beat, threatened, manipulated, stole food from us and assaulted me and my younger siblings. We all told our parents. I told neighbors, pastors, grandparents, teachers and friends. Nothing was done. We were not protected or believed. I am told that I must forgive and forget by my parents and my brother. I have tried. I have prayed, I have done the work but my brother will not ever say he is sorry or that he did anything wrong. My parents still stand by their enabling. He still stares at parts of my body when I see him….I feel invaded again.
As an adult, I found out that his male friendship group all molested their younger sisters. Some of them were my friends. I wonder how many girls suffered because my parents would not stop him. “Boys will be boys.” they would say. They would accuse ME of being dirty minded or crazy. They were worried if they disciplined him that it would ruin his manhood. What about me?!!
I was told as an adult that my case was too old to take my brother to court but then he had children. Did he molest and threaten them? I hope they were okay. I tried to secretly check on them often. Now they are adults and I hope they are okay. I did try to call the police but they were not willing to do anything for such an old case. He volunteered in a church with children but I couldn’t find out which one. I tried calling churches in that area and I couldn’t find a way to stop him.
I attended a workshop where we were to teach children not to hit. I wish someone would have told me it was okay to hit. I was taught over and over that good girls don’t hit. I stabbed my brother with a fork one time because he stole my food and I was very hungry. My entire family was right there and did nothing. When I stabbed him with the fork, I was beaten severely. It was worth it. He was not punished because “he was just hungry.”
We went to church and they sang the song “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost”. My brother smiled in a malicious way, leaned towards me and said “See, you have to do what I say.” Now this song has become the song of bullies and pediphiles in my mind forever.
What I did not know until now is that when I finally was big enough to fight him off, he just moved on to my little sister. She kept the secret. She kept it so long that she has cancer in her throat and is dying. My mother complains that my sister was terrible to her because she cried out once when she was being raped and it kept her awake. She was mad at my sister.
A librarian quietly helped me find books I needed to help me. I don’t even know her name. Books that were kept behind the librarian’s desk on feminism, psychology and dysfunctional family. A respectful, gentle intelligent boy fell in love with me and gently escorted me far from this place. He married me and stands beside me everyday. My grandmothers felt there was nothing they could do….but they did more than they know. They listened. They kept me near them whenever possible. They let me stay with them for weeks on end. They made sure I had enough to eat and held me close. A first grade school teacher who brushed the dirty hair from my face and wiped my eyes and gave me that extra attention I needed. I was fortunate enough to get therapy, education, and a safe warm relationship and home to live in.
A few people can make a huge difference.
Be there for someone please. My life was saved by those people. Now I hope to be there for so many more. Please, you don’t know when your kind action will make all the difference. You don’t always know what another person is going through.
On a current project for work, where my technical skills are constantly called into question, if assumed at all. I’m a young professional and a new hire to a consultancy, so I’m eager to learn and constantly looking for ways to stay engaged. I’ve gotten great feedback, but I can’t help but feel that it’s just to keep me happy, because they know they’re screwing me over by not giving me actual work.
Endured three years of sexual harassment in the form of unwanted sexually explicit texts from my chain of command in the British Army…he was awarded an MBE despite being under investigation (and found guilty), while I was medically discharged due to the mental breakdown he inflicted.
At a recent function, a male colleague introduced another male academic, who I had arrived with, to the main male speakert, but did not introduce me. When I introduced myself, my male colleague apologised, but it seems that it simply had not occurred to him to introduce me.
Age 7/8 at school seeing a group of boys simulating rape on a female class mate and teachers doing nothing to stop them.
Age 15 having 40 yr old friend of parents pressing thigh up against mine under table at charity dinner.
Age 19 at holiday job being compared to topless model in calendar in workshop by group of 5 men in their 40s and 50s.
Being grabbed and forceably kissed by a gas engineer in my home despite having said I was not interested.
Male ‘friends’ telling me i cldnt be a lawyer because women cant do that kind of thing. I am now a lawyer.
Many men and women telling me i am more like a man because I am not interested in makeup and care more about my abilities than my appearance.
I’m a sound engineer and a musician who has been surrounded by men professionally all my adult life. 99% of them have always been respectful and accepted the boundaries I set. I can indulge in their daft, sometimes ‘sexual’ banter but they usually know when to stop or when I’m not tolerating it. That’s the guys who know me and who respect me and and the job I do.
Then there’s the other 1%, the ones who don’t know me, just see me working at a gig or enjoying banter with the guys I do know. They are the ones I worry about.
One recent experience in one of these situations sums it all up. I was both working the sound PA at a local pub gig and providing an acoustic support for the main band. This meant I was both in front of the audience and behind them. By merely putting myself on stage to try and entertain people seemed to mean to one guy that I was fair game to him. After I’d played, a good and enjoyable set, I went into working mode to do the sound for the main band. The pub (a fair sized place) was very busy and I had to try and walk round the room to check the sound was good for the audience all through the pub. The first time I did this, a couple of people stopped me to say they’d enjoyed my set, that was cool if a little annoying as I was trying to work at that point. One guy stopped me by grabbing my hips as I walked past him and pulling me in far too close to tell me he liked how I played. I pulled away, but politely thanked him for enjoying the set and carried on working.
Next time I walked the room to check the sound, I got a few nods from people but this same guy once again pulled me towards him, this time pulling me in to ‘rub’ against me. I pushed back more harshly this time, explained I was working and that he should let me work. He held on a bit too long muttering nonsense about how cool I was. I pulled away and walked away a bit annoyed but this is stuff I get at gigs quite a lot. I’m strong enough to resist and walk away or to give a verbal volley at them. The third time was not so easy. He grabbed me, pulled me in and wrapped his arms all around me so I couldn’t free myself as easily. He started ruffling my hair and rubbing his hands all over me. This is in the middle of a pub with loads of people looking at laughing thinking this is acceptable to me. It was not. I was struggling and frankly at this point was clearly telling him to ” get your f**king hands off me” and to ” leave me alone”. I struggled to break free and he tried to kiss me which resulted in me having his tongue thrust in my ear. I now had to violently pull away whilst people watched and laughed. One woman saw it and understood the situation and pulled him away whilst giving him a torrent of abuse. I think she actually knew him. I didn’t say anything to that woman at the time and didn’t see her or the guy again that night, but I thank her profusely.
I walked away very shaken by what had happened and with a very wet ear! I had to get back to work. It was one of the loneliest feelings I have ever had when I got back behind the desk to continue working. The only people I knew in the place were on the stage performing and couldn’t help me. I was in a pub 50 miles away from home and was stood there feeling truly awful. I finished the work, packed away the PA and drove home. Since then I have spent more time doing studio work and not live work. I just can’t take the hassle any more.
I work in a cafe and there’s a man that comes in known jokingly to me and other staff members as ‘the creepy guy’. He always stares and asks questions, asks us what time we’re finishing work etc. and generally making us feel uncomfortable (I’m 26 but he behaves the same way to my younger 16 year old colleagues – he’s about 50). We sometimes try to get our male colleagues to serve him because he doesn’t act like that around them, but it’s difficult when your main job is to serve all customers. Despite him making us girls/women feel uncomfortable, my manager has told me he’s ‘harmless’ and to just put up with it. It’s left me second-guessing myself, am I the one who’s making a big deal out of nothing? Should I just humour him?
It’s also made me very aware as a sales assistant that it is my job to be polite to everyone, but what should I have to put up with in return (including being shouted and sworn at by customers)? I know of a friend who had to leave her job because a customer kept making very sexually aggressive comments towards her, even after she complained to her manager about it. My case is only minor, it’s nothing compared to others, but it makes me feel vulnerable to think that myself and other women working in customer service have little power to speak out against someone’s behaviour.
A new colleague started working in my team – early fifties, male, very sure of himself. He started his time here being incredibly patronising, regularly referring to me as “dear” or “love”, even when I asked him not to.
During one meeting in a meeting room outside of the main office, he told me that he worked in the lingerie industry for several years when he first graduated – noting wrong with that. He then proceeded to tell me that he could tell by looking at me exactly what type of bra I should wear and how I could improve the way I looked by wearing the right underwear. I must have looked shocked, so he said “don’t worry, I say this to every young lovey that I meet”. He also frequently calls me by the wrong name, puts me down in front of customers, talks over me, questions every decision I make, and makes me feel uncomfortable by lingering his gaze over my chest if I wear anything fitted or slightly low cut.
I mentioned it to my manager – as well as some other things he had said that I was uncomfortable with – and he told me to “keep an eye on it and see how it goes”. My manager is not very much older than me but holds a lot more responsibility, and is on the board of directors in our organisation. I expected more of him, and his response disgusted me. He also cautioned me not to mention it to HR because it would make too much trouble for a new hire.
Things have remained the same and I hoped they would improve, but they haven’t. I am actively looking for a new job and cannot wait to leave these two sexist men behind. Everyone else I have dealt with in the business has been nothing but respectful and polite, but these two men have made me feel so uncomfortable and unappreciated that I know I cannot remain here much longer facing this type of behaviour.
My job is to provide technical advice on some of the products we manufacture and sell. As a result, I’m quite knowledgeable about the parts we stock. I cannot count how many times I have answered the phone to tell a male customer that I can help, and they have responded “Are there not any guys I can talk to?” or “I need to talk to someone who knows about these things.” My male colleagues never get this kind of attitude! Possibly the worst one was when I had a customer come in, I provided my opinion, they clearly weren’t certain, so I got my boss and he came and said exactly the same thing. For some reason, my customer needed to hear it from a man to know that it was correct.
I worked in a call centre. The majority of employees – including supervisors, managers and the senior managers – were female. Because of the nature of the work, we sometimes had to tell callers that they couldn’t do what they wanted to or have what they were demanding, so callers who demanded to speak to “someone in authority” were common. It often became apparent that many of these people wanted to speak to a MAN, although few would admit it. (Our most senior manager was a woman). One of these callers who stated outright that they wanted to speak to a man was offered the option of speaking to a subordinate – he preferred that option to dealing with a woman who had more authority.