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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L

During my internship, the boss was really kind of sexist without realising probably. He adressed me and the other female intern with cute names but he never did that with his male employees. We were working on some educational stuff for kids, and he had these great ideas about ‘girl planets’ and ‘boy planets’ *sarcastic eye roll*.
One time he had a big delivery of paper that had to be carried up the stairs. I asked if I could help, he said “No, I need strong guys for that”.

Oh there was the time I was asking for some tools at the school’s workshop and the guy working there kept talking to my friend, even though he only followed me because he had nothing better to do and he probably never even touched a hammer. When I mentioned the latter the guy tried to defend himself by saying, well but if he gets a girlfriend he has to know how to fix stuff right. (the friend has a boyfriend btw).

But what made me really angry about female/male stereotypes was when I worked part-time at a kids toy store. I’ve seen a lot of boys being dragged away from the barbies and other ‘girly’ stuff by their parents, being told: “nonono, that’s for girls, not for you”. One boy could choose a present and he chose a playmobile camper. His mom then tried to talk him out of it for like 5 minutes, telling him “no the camper is for girls, you like the cool pirate ship better, right?” Luckily he kept saying he liked the camper the most, so in the end he got it. (like wth, that stuff is unisex as f*ck). Oh and when parents are looking for a blue version but we only have pink ones left. A guy asked “are these the only ones left? Because it’s for a boy” I replied “Well maybe he’d like a pink one” and then the guy laughed and said “luckily he doesn’t.”
I do think that’s where it starts though. Little boys get told the barbies are something to be ashamed of, so they start to see girly stuff as less worthy.

About sexual assault, I usually don’t get much ‘negative attention’ from guys, but one time when I went out with a friend at night. My friend just found out she likes girls so I promised to go to a lesbian bar with her. We got approached by multiple guys assuming we were both lesbian and also somehow into having a trio with a guy (yes, let the logic sink in.).

I must say I have good hopes for the future though. Especially in films lately there has been a slow but steady improvement of female representation. I hope it keeps up and society changes for the better.

Kitty

I was on YouTube the other day, & was watching a few vids. I read the comments under one particular one, & some guy had posted a comment with the sentence “rape her raw” in. To be fair (!), he wasn’t talking about a woman, he was talking about an inanimate object (won’t go into specifics about what), but I still thought it was an unacceptable thing to write, & I did find that it was a jarring note in an otherwise very enjoyable vid. Why do people think it’s OK to toss the word ‘rape’ around in such a casual fashion?

jalyn

In my senior year of high school I earned high enough grades to become part of the Cum Lade society. This was a small number of people in my grade who achieved the highest grades in the class. I was the only black girl who was awarded this position. After the Cum Laude assembly in front of the school, a white boy from my class (who did not get on the society) said to me, “Wow, you don’t seem like the type of person to get on the Cum Laude Society”. Probably due to the fact that i am both black and a woman.

anon

I was walking to my next class and my old homeroom teacher (from months before) tried to spark a conversation with me. This probably wouldn’t seem too odd, except for the fact that the only time I would ever talk to him during class was when I had a question regarding the work. What also kind of freaked me out was that when I would see him in the hall I would smile and say hello, something I do to all my teachers just in case I get them again or they become my coaches, but when I did this he wouldn’t even acknowledge me. So when he began talking to be I immediately freaked out (being the paranoid person I am) and tried to end the conversation and leave as soon as possible. He said he missed seeing me and my two other friends in his class. Upon hearing this I got even more freaked out, stumbling my words I tried to leave immediately. This was when everyone was moving to their next class so it was packed and busy, even more so with everyone carrying their backpacks. So, all I could do was turn away and keep walking. After the rush of people my friends who were walking behind me told me how awkward that conversation was and when I was walking away he put his arm around me which I didn’t feel because my bag was luckily preventing him from actually touching me. This freaked me out and made me feel sick just thinking about it.

GenY

As a fully paid up member of Generation Y I’ve experienced my unfair share of everyday sexism from my own cohort – too much to list from a young age so I will stick to the most recent example I’ve been served up. I’ve read about the struggles Generation Z face in an increasingly intolerant and sexist society though never truly understood what Generation Z are up against until January this year.

In January I went to lunch with my mother and on entering the cafe walked past a table with three young Gen Z students holding court who rated my looks and my apparel as I walked by and at the same time very vocally judging whether I was marriage material.

I didn’t know that in 2017 a woman’s worth was still to be defined by a man. I have younger female family members and I’m concerned for them in an age when selfies, likes, looks and the superficial are deemed more important than thoughts, character and good deeds.

In short I’m concerned that for Generation Z the balance of power is tilting ever more unequally away from equality and emancipation and back towards subjugation.

Erika Azevedo

This happened to me on March 2nd, in the afternoon, as I was exiting a mall after taking my six-year-old dautgher to the movies. This happend in Sao Paulo, Brasil.

“If you were a guy I would punch you in the face” said Bruno, a passenger in a car that had just scratched mine.

What “caused” the threat was the fact that I, a woman, was demanding that his buddy took responsibility for the damage he did on my car by being a smart-ass and cutting me off from a turn left only lane.

As I got out of the car to look at the damage the driver (who was not the verbal agressor) said sorry, but when I said he would have to pay for the fender bender (small, but yet costy, been there done that) he changed his mind and started saying I couldn´t prove he had done that to my car. I was firm in saying (as I took pictures of the damage and of his license plate) that he was going to take responsibility.

At that point, his buddy, got out of the car saying as he gesticulated “stop the show, stop the show, he said he is sorry already” and went on, both guys (throwing quite a show I must say….) not letting me say anything…as I looked at them (coincidently positioned between my car – window open, my daughter curiously observing the scene – and both men). I was eventually able to say “show? what show? I am only demanding what is right”. To what Bruno replied “You are out of control, he already said he was sorry”. “I am not out of control. Your buddy said sorry, but now is refusing to take responsibility, I am simply demanding what is right, when you decided to get out of the car and join your friend. What for?” When he finally said the pearl “if you were a man I would punch you in the face”. Calmly I looked at him with serious eyes “your buddy makes a mistake for which he doesn’t want to take responsibility and you are telling me you’d punch me?!”, he replied “you bet I would”…”well, I can punch too” said I while I continued looking at him. He left the scene cursing “fucking bitch” (to those who speak Portuguese he said “folgada do caralho”).

As far as car damage goes the situation was sorted. But I reflected a lot about it and the meaning of what the guy said:

First thing he said, the “show”. Why? Because there was a woman facing a man up and telling him “you made a mistake you’d better take responsibility for it”? Why “out of control”? I did not raise my voice, lose focus of the matter (ruined side mirror) or anything. They were the ones speaking over me, gesticulating and not letting me speak. Could it be that I was out of their control by not being intimidated by them as they obviously were trying to make me feel?

One might say “ah, but they’d do the same were you a guy”…no, they wouldn’t. They would not say I was out of control or that I was putting up a show. They might start a fist fight or likely become buddies with the driver. Then another person might say “but did you want to be punched”…he might try but the punch is not the issue. The issue is the attempt to intimidate me because I was a female driver. The behaviour of the guy who actually caused the damage was a typical city driver’s atittude who doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions. But his buddy, Bruno, his narrative towards me was permeated by sexism. A woman daring to debate with two men had better be “crazy”, “out of control”. “The fucking bitch” did not take the position they were attempting to put me on.

Bruno did not punch me out of respect (because I am a woman) nor fear (because I said I could punch), but because his intention was never the physical agression per se, but the intimidation based on how he expects women to behave when around men.

PS: I shared this story with several friends intending to educate them. Male friends. I wonder how many thought, when first reading the sentence “If you were I guy I would punch you in the face”, “what did she do?”. I wonder how many of them called a woman crazy when she was standing up for herself. They took it well, I hope they truly reflect upon their actions in the future.

PS 2: I am a 2nd degree black belt karateca and I could probably have defended myself from an attack from that guy, however, what karate gave me was mental empowerment to withstand the symbolic agression of that act.

C

We are recruiting for a new position in my department. My boss handed me a pile of applications to sift through, looked me square in the eye and said “I don’t want any mothers!” (I am a mother).

Hopeful Feminist

My cousin who is two year older to me, felt my breasts during the summer vacations when we went to grand mas home. He kept doing that all through the 2 months I stayed there. I was just 12 and didn’t understand what was happening.

Now I am in my mid-30s and regret not speaking about it.

Lottie Morris

As an 18 year old female in today’s society it worries me what the future holds for my children. Being told from a young age by my parents that it isn’t safe walking home alone especially as a female seems unfair since my gender shouldn’t impact on my safety any more than it does my brother’s when he’s only a year older than myself. Despite this I have found myself making the decision to walk back 20 minutes from the club to my uni accommodation because it’s not only free but I like the fresh air and seems more environmentally friendly even if that sounds stupid. My most recent encounter prompted me to post into the everyday sexism page, not because I suffered violence or extreme harassment but because the reality of the situation shocked me. The occasional catcall in the street I am used to (this itself shouldn’t seem right just because I have different physical features to my male peers) but after walking back around three quarters of the way I was on the home stretch of the university campus. I heard footsteps behind me as someone was running towards me which made me nervous as to what would happen but the “excuse me are you okay?” made me turn around to realise it was a hotel staff member from the establishment I had just passed. He then proceeded to ask if I needed a taxi and asked when I had been that night, after telling him where and reassuring him that I was okay since I could see my accommodation, what then happened was what made me more infuriated than the frequent sexual harassment myself and I know others deal with on a daily basis. “Can I have your number?” shocked is a massive understatement to say the least, someone I thought was looking out for my safety and checking that I got home alright led to an opportunity to ask me out after the 10 second encounter he had with me. It made me question whether he did actually care or worry about a lone female walking home or if it was his way of getting an opportunity to talk to me because he saw a girl in a dress (and scruffy trainers may I add) walking past his place of work. It’s hard to know if this was a genuine case of misogynistic behaviour or just someone that was genuine but later asked for my number. The fact that I have to question this as someone who has just started university and has yet to actually start life as an adult tells me it wasn’t a situation that was acceptable. I’m disappointed is all I can say and wanted to take this opportunity to share with others I know care about gender equality and removing threats and acts of sexism in everyday life. Thank you for taking the time to read this, it means a lot x

Erika Azevedo

São Paulo, Brasil. Pre carnival Friday: I left work and changed into shorts and put on a gorgeous pear+flower carnivally tiara. I parked my car on a street and walked a few blocks to the manicure parlor.

That is right! I put on such a carnivally tiara only to go get a manicure! It is carnival, I wanted to play.

As I was crosing a major avenue, a guy inside a moving car yelled “hey pussy cat”! And drove by.

At age 38, going through a crisis feeling fat, old and ugly, for a fraction of second I almost liked the “compliment”.

Almost. At age 38 I have learned not to take crumbs for a compliment. That was not a compliment. That was harassment. Verbal harassment. After that first fraction of second I actually felt humiliated, ashamed and invaded.

Compliment is when a person looks at you and says that he/she liked your look. Not while passing by, not anonimously. For a compliment to exist, it is necessary to have existed some kind of permission for the approach.

I did not leave work wearing shorts and that tiarar to be subject of a stranger’s comments from a car passing by. Yes I was playing. Intending to cause admired looks, smiling glances, a few laughs from my girl friend who met me at the parlor “girl you are crazy”! The unexpected. That was not a permission for strangers to think they have the liberty to approach me like that.

I couldn’t help think about the sexism inherent to carnival, the objectification of women. That story of blaming the victim “you left wearing that, what did you expect?” which becomes exacerbated this time in Brasil.

Other women have had it worse this carnival, that is for sure. However, the root of the behaviour – the catcalling and the beating or raping – is the same: it is the belief that women are there at the disposition of men, for them to say things to, use, to touch, grab and have.