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.

Add your story:

Scarlett

So I have a friend. His name is David. David once said to me, “Well Scarlett, if women are equal, and can punch men, I can punch a women without a reason.” I was taken aback. Now that I think about it though, he said this to me maybe four or five times. I, a female, tend to be friends with men more often than I am with women. If I do the calculations, 70 percent of my friends are male. So, considering this, they tend to be a bit on the ignorant, and whenever David (previous agressor) says something along the lines of abusing, objectifying, or depricating women I go off. And then I am told that I am “being unreasonable” or that I am “starting something” or I am “fighting a losing battle” or that women “ARE equal”. Perhaps my going off is a tad unreasonable. Wait, no. No, it isn’t. So this isn’t exactly a story where I was being hit on, but at the ripe age of 15 I was defending my right to speak. I felt it my job to help protect this, along with the simple fact that he was disrespecting everyone, not just women. He has a sister. I pulled that card. I said, “Would you use this right against your 6 year old sister?” And he just could not get the point that you can’t go around hitting people. We are no longer friends.

Anon

— A Kurdish woman was seriously injured when she was dragged through the streets of a northern German town behind a car with a cord tied around her neck. Her ex-partner, a Kurdish man, later turned himself in to authorities, prosecutors said Monday.

Police said they were treating the incident as an attempted killing. The 28-year-old local woman had a cord tied around her neck, which was attached to the car’s trailer hitch, they said.

Because she was his ex. Her crime was not really wanting to go out with someone any more.
And the cliche is bunny boiler ?
Hell hath no vengeance like a man scorned.
This happened a year ago and barely made the papers, I found it on a small Kurdish site
Not important enough for world news.
Just very tired of male violence and the lack of discussion in the press for the reasons we haven’t solved it.

Christina Nee

My teenage brother makes constant “jokes” around the house about women cooking, multi-tasking, and other blatantly stereotypical, sexist topics. He isn’t a bad guy in any sense of the word, and I love him completely. But it is clearly seen as the norm for young men these days to engage in this everyday sexism, even at school age. When challenged, he doesn’t see the harm in it and tells me to “take a joke” – how can society move forwards when the young men of the future are growing up in a culture of underlying sexism? I don’t blame him yet, he is young and will learn… it is up to society to educate the next generation about the ramifications of such harmless “jokes”.

C.S

My teenage brother makes constant “jokes” around the house about women cooking, multi-tasking, and other blatantly stereotypical, sexist topics. He isn’t a bad guy in any sense of the word, and I love him completely. But it is clearly seen as the norm for young men these days to engage in this everyday sexism, even at school age. When challenged, he doesn’t see the harm in it and tells me to “take a joke” – how can society move forwards when the young men of the future are growing up in a culture of underlying sexism?

JMM

A tech mentor at a coding bootcamp I attend told me today that he has a unique perspective on “females” because he has a mom and a girlfriend in the field. That was the argument he used to prove that I was wrong to ask him to fix a bug that affected the students.

Anon

I have a few things to say on the topic of “encouraging and inspiring girls into STEM”. When I was younger, I was enthusiastic and excited about Maths and Science. I did not need encouraging! I taught myself concepts and did a lot of reading. I watched educational videos, used computer based resources and observed things in real life.

This all changed as I grew up, particularly at Sixth Form College in Geology Class and I’m some parts of Biology Class. My enthusiasm was sucked out of me by my teachers. Going to class and attending field trips became soul destroying and stressful experiences where teachers would use emotional blackmail and sarcasm on us because they thought that we were all lazy. I slowly lost my passion for these subjects and my will to live.

A male teacher, while he was teaching us Structural Geology, would tell us that women could not visualise 3D objects in their brains. He told us that was why girls struggle with that topic and make mistakes: because our brains supposedly weren’t wired to understand 3D geometry (according to “science”). When boys made mistakes drawing cross-sections, he attributed this to their personal failures to work hard, not because they were male. He’d yell at us or look at us with despair if we made mistakes while we were learning.

Lots of the boys touched me without my consent on field trips and would constantly try to chat me up while I was trying to concentrate on work in the field. The young men would also make rude explicit jokes about women’s anatomy and laugh.

Female teachers would scream and yell at me for various reasons. One time was because I was late (the bus was stuck in traffic after a car crash for two hours), but a female teacher blamed me for this and would not listen to my explanation. She would actually shout at people who were 30 seconds late to class. This made me nervous constantly checking my watch and rushing to class. Some female teachers I had seemed so stressed and would snap and scream if something unexpected went wrong. One female teacher asked me personal questions about my mother’s age then she told me that my practical work was “awful” without calmly explaining where I went wrong or what I could do better next time. She had basically given everyone a worksheet and told them to read said worksheet (with very confusing instructions she did not go through that no one in my class understood) and do lab work during free periods. She said that we could use the lab at any time we liked. She told us we could just walk in and get on with the work.

This was a lie. I tried to enter the lab during one of my free periods only to be screamed at by another female Geography teacher who told me to “get out” because I was “being disruptive”. I was working quietly and looking down a microscope and reading books. I was not talking or disturbing anyone. The only noise I made was walking in quietly. She screamed and shouted at me. I self harmed that night by scratching my wrists and cried. I still have nightmares and flashbacks about this even though I am over 30 years old. I heard voices in my head, not due to a chemical imbalance or “depression”, but due to what teachers said and shouted at me: those voices in my head were their voices! I felt betrayed and lied to. That school was supposed to be an “Investor in People”, but it was traumatising me. It was as if some of the teachers were trying to wrong foot me in science every time. I just couldn’t win.

One time, I used the lab to do some research before a field trip. Fortunately there were no female teachers telling me to get out and screaming like banshees, so I managed to get some work done. There was a microscope, slides and microscopy books. I really had fun drawing sketches of the different igneous rocks. I felt great. I had got a ton of work done and I felt more prepared for the trip. No one else entered the lab and I wondered why I was the only one preparing for the trip. When I was finished, I put the microscopy books back into a neat pile and put the books back exactly where I found them. Sorry, but my mother had brought me up that way to tidy up after myself and leave things organised for other people.

Fortunately, my next class was Geology, so all I had to do was move my books and bags from the lab annex to the classroom next door. My female Geology teacher walked in and inspected the lab annex. She shook her head disapprovingly and then walked back into the classroom. I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt like had done something horrible, but I couldn’t figure out what it was yet.

She shouted at the class:
“I can tell that no one has used the lab annex for research because the books are in a neat pile and the slides are just how I left them. I know no one has been in the lab because none of the equipment has been touched. Why are you lot so lazy and you can’t follow basic instructions? And no I don’t want to hear your “excuses” or “explanations”!”

So that was that. I felt too frightened to tell her that I had been working in the lab during free periods and lunch because I was afraid she’d think I was lying. She used to moan at us for leaving the lab in a mess, now she was unknowingly moaning at me for leaving it too tidy as if “no one had used the equipment”. Can’t win either way, just don’t know why I bothered. I cried and scratched my wrists that night, utterly defeated. So sad, angry and yuck in the head.

So please don’t medicate young women for “depression” or “hearing voices”! Instead, make educational environments less stressful and hostile. Calling a young woman “depressed” and suggesting she take pills unfairly individualises a problem that is a community issue. Human beings whether we like it or not are social creatures who are affected by the words other people say and how they treat us. Set high standards, yes, but do this in a respectful way that helps young women learn from their mistakes that doesn’t treat young women like verbal punching bags. More effort should be put into not discouraging and not emotionally abusing young women who are already interested in science.

I am not a verbal punching bag for teacher’s frustrations or someone you stick a pernicious psychiatric label on. I am a human being who tries to listen and be polite. I felt lied to by the Sixth Form College prospectus that said the school environment valued “equality”, “diversity” and “inspired students by supporting them to fulfil their potential”. It was all just fancy buzz words and lip-service. Every week there would be some “scientific” lecture on at the school about how the “male brain” was supposedly better at science and maths. Also how empathetic female brains could not be good at Maths because they supposedly didn’t have “systemising” brains like men did. Um explain my female Maths teachers then? Oh and that woman who won the Field’s medal, what about her? Crickets…Silence…

I got an As in Geology and Biology by working alone in spite of my teachers not because of them.

Sorry, but this is the truth.

I wish I had something inspiring and uplifting to say, but I really don’t.

Lex

I was in the local corner shop when a group of young boys came in, I’d say they were around 12 or 13. I stopped at the end of an aisle to let them pass together when one of them said audibly to the rest ‘I didn’t know they sold pussy in here’. I was clearly the subject of the comment.
It doesn’t make any difference to how horrible this was but I’m very visibly pregnant at the moment & felt so degraded…at the hands of a 12 year old boy.

Anon

I recently asked my headmaster (at a school in a very middle class, well educated and politically aware area) why boys were not allowed to have hair longer than their collars when girls are allowed to have long hair and also “unstereotypical girls hair- e.g. short hair”. As he is a politics and history teacher, I expected him to have some idea of equality and for him to turn around and say “OH MY WORD I had no idea that rule existed we must abolish it immediately”; but as a true politician would, he managed to skirt around the question and with a slight stutter in his voice, he answered the question very vaguely. From what I could gather, he basically said “It looks scruffy” – but in a few more words. Needless to say, I was FUMING for the rest of the meeting. I am a 15 year old girl and have decided to recruit a few male friends to help me fight this sexism and stereotyping, in the hope that he may listen to a male voice.

Media fail

“Did you take out a mortgage between 1988 and 2002?”

Same advert two illustrations.
One a stunning, heavily made up teen model who wasn’t born in 1988 pouting at the camera in sultry fashion
The other a normal respectable looking fifty year old man looking intelligent

Because only men get mortgages and fifty year old women are too ugly to look at?
Ffs how stupid does the press think men are that they won’t click on an advert if it features a woman over forty and why aren’t they interested in women’s money or time?
Patronising to all of us.
I did take out a mortgage during those years but I ain’t clicking and I don’t buy from anyone that uses women as bait.

Answer to Stereotype Threat

As a woman who can read maps, has excellent orientation skills, can manipulate 3D objects in her mind and did well in her technical drawing courses, I can assure you I can assure you: I am a woman, and I am good at it, so your geology teacher is wrong (and most probably sexist), and your math teachers are right. Spatial abilities for men and women are a bell-curve average, and they intersect. That means that some women will be better at it than most men, and some men will be worse at it than most women. Just as some women are bad at multi-tasking while some men are good at it.

And yes, like so many abilities, it can be trained. It’s just that some get it right from the start, and others need to put more effort into it. Playing with Lego and other building kits, for example, is a great way to train oneself in spatial visualization and manipulation.

All those “men brains are this way, women brains are that way” are averages, and too often used as an excuse to limit genders in what they should do. Don’t let anyone tell you what to like, what to dislike, what you can do, and what you cannot. Try for yourself, and don’t give up until you know why you don’t like this or can’t do that. (I totally want to learn blacksmithing!)