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.

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Bella

I want to share a few incidents of sexual assault I have experienced… I was at a busy pub with my friends and walking up the stairs to the upper floor. A man, a lot older than me, coming down the stairs looked my body up and down. As I passed by him, he reached over and grabbed my breasts. His friends laughed in the background and the people I were with didn’t seem to care. I was about 17. I was in a queer nightclub with my friend in London. I am not queer myself but my friend is, and we always had a great time together with his group of friends. A girl came up to me and kept on saying how attractive I am and that she really wanted to kiss me. I said thank you but I’m not actually into women. She wouldn’t leave me alone and grabbed my breasts before leaving. I told my friend about it as I was quite shocked. His boyfriend laughed and grabbed my breasts again as if to say “what’s the problem?”. I was young at the time and laughed but it ultimately made me feel like it was ok for him to touch me like that and for other people to touch me too. I was at my brothers birthday party with my friend. He’s a bit older than me and I was about 16 at the time. I went to get some money out from a cash machine with my friend while one of his friends stood behind me in the queue. I could hear him making noises/speaking to the boys next to him about my backside and how badly he wanted me. As I was bending down to pick up by cash I felt him kick me between the crotch. Me and my friend often used to laugh at this incident, but it really hurt at the time and shocked me. I was at a festival with some friends who I knew fairly well. We were drinking in our tent and the conversation got on to the topic of bodies. They all kept on saying how jealous they were of my body and how badly they want to see my breasts. They insisted I showed them there and then. It was a new friendship group and I felt under pressure and pulled down my top. I felt really alone in that moment and really vulnerable. All these incidents sent the message to me that my body was not mine. In all cases, my friends just laughed or even encouraged this message. I am 23 now. I hope the narrative changes for girls at school growing up so we can teach each other that it is not ok to sexualise your friends or touch their bodies without consent. And to validate each others experiences of sexual assault when they occur rather than becoming an anecdote. Friendships should be a safe space where we have the potential to disrupt the discourse and narrative around sexual assault. Not another space in which sexism pervades and assault is made to same ok. It never is, and I am sorry if anyone has felt alone or let down in these ways too.

E.L.

As a trans woman who doesn’t quite “pass” my interactions with toxic men can involve sexual harassment, but also direct or implicit threats of violence. That or being told that I am sick, mentally ill, etc. What occurs to me often, is that to these men I am seen as a “failed man” – effeminate. Either that or a hyper-sexualized woman – fair game for their attacks and low enough on the social hierarchy to not matter. Aside from being wrong about my identity what bothers me as much if not more is that to them, my perceived “condition” makes me an acceptable target for harassment, abuse or even outright violence. I worry equally about being assaulted by someone who sees me as a man in a dress or sexually attacked by a man who sees me as vulnerable prey and I worry just as much that if something bad were to happen even in a public place, how many people would stop and intervene on my behalf? I’ve also been told by various people that I need to try harder to be pretty in order to be accepted and gain respect – something I know literally every woman has been told in their lives, so I’m certainly not special in that regard – but I can tell you that from my former (miserable) pre-transition life, men do not receive that “advice” except maybe rarely being suggested to look more “respectable”. Funny how men are taught about appearing respectable while women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Dress modestly and you’re a prude, frigid, stern, or even a “bitch”. Dress down, and you’re treated like an object and sexualized regardless of the situation.

M

Okey so im 14 years old and for the ones that are interested i was wearing sweatpants and a fucking top. I was walking home alone and i was one block away home when this guy (he was maybe 26) slowed down his car and yelled at me lots of disgusting stuff about what would he do to me if i was his… I was so scared and feeling useless and helpless. I kept walking when i saw that this guy turn around his car and began to whistle at me in a seductive way. I started running while i was calling my dad crying, i told my dad to open the door so i could run inside. I was so desperate to get home and never come out again… Luckily i got home safe and sound, but what if i didnt? What about something happened to me and i could never come home again? Now i dont walk alone on the streets because im afraid that something might happen to me. That feeling is one of the worse things i ever felt. This shit has to stop

Juliet

My sister is 6 months pregnant with a baby girl. She shared pictures of a baby scan and received so many comments about how pretty the baby will grow up to be (as if that’s the most important thing to note about her) based on a blurry image of a child that hasn’t been born yet. This did not happen during her previous pregnancy with my nephew.

Annie

When my two daughters were at primary school, about 8 years ago, a trainee teacher took them for a P E lesson.They were playing catch the male teacher -after my daughter failed to catch a ball said : you probably don’t like this game because the ball isn’t pink and fluffy:The deputy head, also male, gave a speech at assembly on why girls don’t persue science at secondary school- because the find it hard!In the same assembly he declared that women are thinkers and men are doers -his wife found it hard to chose an outfit in the morning whereas he was bish bosh out the door. My daughter wrote to the head teacher, with stats on girls a level results in science being higher than boys, and he was made to apologise.My daughter achieved 3 A* stars in Maths,Physics and chemistry at A level.

Heather

I have many stories and I don’t know how to catalogue them all. I did realise that over the last few years at separate times I have individually been told that my mother and all of my female siblings including myself have been raped. Non of them have confided in anyone else. They don’t know each others stories. As it’s not my place to say and I couldn’t ever tell my Dad “All of the woman in our family have been raped”.

Anon

When I was 14 I went on a school trip and my best (and only) friend was also there and I had no one else and was very introverted so I basically stuck to her side the whole time. She was very pretty and confident and I was shy, awkward, ugly and hated talking to anyone, especially the boys who loved to try and get close to my friend because she was “fit”. Anyway some of the boys approached my one day and asked if I was a “Faggot” and wouldn’t leave me alone, because of how much tome I spent with my friend. They eventually spread a rumour that I was a lesbian, and I had to live with the bullying all the way through high school after they told everyone I’d tried to kiss my friend. She stopped talking to me after that and I was completely alone. I came out as bi a few months ago to my family, but for a long time I hated myself because of all the bullying I’d had for being a “puff”, all because the boys had Wanted to ‘get with’ my friend and I was a ‘cockblocker’.

Poppy

My mother has to make my stepdad every single meal, wash all of his clothes, dry them, iron them, fold them. She does the sole work of looking after me and my brother, goes to work, cooks and washes up and hoovers and does EVERY SINGLE JOB in the house. Now that I’m old enough I take on the next biggest portion of house work, meaning I have hardly any time for school work (I’m doing A-Levels). I’m so sick of him sitting in front of the TV all day every day while she does everything for him like she’s his mother and he’s not a grown man. He never thanks very, offers to help, takes her on dates or does anything for her and she deserves so so so much more. I wish she would leave him and I’m so sick that this is normalised in the eyes of the world as a ‘normal’ relationship and she should ‘just be grateful he doesn’t hit her’. My brother follows in my stepdads lead and doesn’t do anything in the house either, and my mum is too sick and tired of asking that she just accepts that me and her should do it all. I try and talk about this with people but they always say stuff like “that’s just what men do” and “it’s her job to take care of the house anyway”. I’m so angry that men get to spend their whole lives doing nothing while the women are their slaves. She deserves better, and he needs to grow up and treat her like his equal partner, not his babysitter.

Jane

I have a degree in engineering and have worked in engineering for over 10 years. My colleague is adamant I can’ t be an engineer as I am not as strong as him and cannot lift an 8 stone person. We both work in the office and I seriously doubt he could lift 8 stone

rouaa

my name is rouaa, i am 19 years old from Benghazi libya. i have been reading and learning more and more about feminism and sexism and the more I do, the clearer it is to me how unfair i have been treated in the past, because it was just what everyone thought was normal and okay. when i first started experiencing men catcalling me in the streets (i was probably 13) my mother told me i should never look at the man or respond or even defend myself if he tried to touch me because he might get angry and hurt me, i listened to her for years. another time i was in a crowded store with my mom and dad standing in line, i felt a hand brushing against my ass, i figured it was by accident because the store was crowded, but the second time i felt uncomfortable and told my mother, she told me to “be quiet” because she doesn’t want my dad to hear me and then start trouble with that man. Early on i was taught to always cover up, my dad would send me back to my room to change because my pants were “too tight” and i hated my body because i didn’t wanna be a sex object. i was furious with questions and i was always shut down from people who said it was our religion or our culture. my cousin once told me that my house would be “dirty” if i worked because i wouldn’t have time to clean. my uncle told me it was my job to sacrifice and compromise because that’s what a good mother does for her family. I saw my aunt thanking her husband for holding the baby like he was doing her a favor by taking care of his own child. in libya we have tribes and these “important” tribe meetings which women are obviously not invited to because, well, because they’re women. i have a cousin who would ignore me every time we met, he would shake hands with everyone in the room but me, i never knew why but i figured if i was a man it surely wouldn’t have happened. when you’re a girl you’re automatically less important, easy to ignore. in family dinners we have to make sure the men’s plates have more food and look more presentable because they’re more worthy of that for some reason. when my cousin was 16, she was forced to marry a man she didn’t want, and the same had happened to her sister. when anything bad happens to you youre automaticly blamed for it because men have needs, men cant control themselves, “its okay for men to catcall and hit on you because its a “phase” that they go through” a crush i had (believe it or not) once said to me, but why should i be the subject of your phase? why do you feel entiltled to my body and to talk to me or even get my number? why is all this bullshit okay and normal?. in libya youre not really suppossed to dye your hair or wear makeup until you get married. i of course didnt care for that and wore makeup to events and occasions anyway and people always judged me for it. i wasnt allowed to wear makep going out (still not allowed actually) and one time i got in trouble for wearing makeup to uni. its like everything we do is for men or for their attention. and so many more things that are happeningto me and girls in this society. but im so grateful im unlearning everything i was taught growing up. i wont be a victim of internalized misogyny anymore.