When I was 15, I was walking home from school with my friend, who was also my age and male. A car drove past, and a 20-something y/o leaned out of the window and screamed “you better lick his asshole, you bitch!” I was so shocked and embarrassed about what happened. My friend and I had always just been friends, so it was especially awful.
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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Mine is a small example compared to the difficulties of others shared on here but I wanted to share it nevertheless. A couple of days ago I called my boyfriend to chat with him so he had to leave his discord group chat/game with his friends. In response to this one of his friends said ‘he has been summoned by the wench’. His friends have made similar comments in the past. I asked my boyfriend to let me speak into his microphone through the phone and told his friend that what he said wasn’t okay- which was received as more banter, his friends laughing at him getting “told off” by a woman. I let my boyfriend know I found it upsetting and got told he knows it’s wrong but they are just joking and they are self aware of the casual sexism so that makes it fine and funny. I brushed it off initially, but now I am feeling really quite devalued and hurt by the comment, my boyfriend’s reaction and the fact these comments will continue to be made behind my back. I feel silly and like I’m overacting- I should be one of the lads and learn to take a joke otherwise I’m being the “uptight feminist”. But actually, although they are small comments it all adds up. I think it is unacceptable and casual sexism, which I’m sure other girls have experienced too.
A male friend posted something on facebook about how everyone should talk to homeless people and learn their names. I said that it was a little more complicated than that for women who are out walking alone. We may be hesitant to talk to strangers when we can experience harassment just for smiling at someone. He came back with “there are homeless women too.” ???
I was watching TV with my brothers and on the TV was a woman cleaning for the husband. My little brother said “That is what women were made for!” My big brothers told him to shut up and that when he was older he will have to clean his own house because the way he is acting he will never get a partner.
I’m only just now, at 65 years old, realizing how sexism has affected each and every one of my relationships. MY OWN benevolent sexism beliefs put me automatically into the submissive role where I believed I HAD to comply with their wishes and NEVER make them wear a condom. My second and third husband and I fell into the benevolent sexist script where I felt taken care of; but the trade off is that I could NOT speak what I truly felt about anything and certainly not when they started being more overtly hostile with their sexism. They ALL felt entitled to me complying with multiple partners, only with the last one did I refuse and he began having sexual encounters without me which I was supposed to just accept. I didn’t and divorced at 63.
One time someone walked into my office demanding that I’d drop everything and make photocopies for him. Another stopped me in the hallway to yell at me because his reimbursement claim had not yet been processed. Both thought I was the secretary. Both were much more junior than me.
One day when I was 14, I went to the swimming pool with my parents and sister. We ended up sharing the hot tub with a middle-aged couple. The man, who sat opposite me, started fondling the inside of my thighs with his feet. I became increasingly uncomfortable as his feet went farther and farther up. My mom was sitting next to me but I didn’t say anything. It was as if time had stopped. When I told my mom afterwards, she said I was making it up. I’m surprised how vividly I remember this incident. It’s not the worst thing that has happened to me by far and I rarely think about it.
A classmate was obsessed with my breasts and kept trying to touch them. I still hate my breasts with a vengeance. I wear binders (thank god for them!) and have been wanting to have a mastectomy for years.
I was a first year physics student. We spent two days a week working in a lab. The lab supervisor was watching porn in his office all day. After you had finished an experiment, you’d have to go into his office to show him your report. The office had no windows and was always dark. When the lab supervisor was not in his office, he’d be joking with the male students talking about the female students’ bodies. One classmate of mine he referred to as BBOTU, which stood for “beautiful body otherwise terribly ugly.” I don’t know how he referred to me, but I do know that he joked about me with a couple of guys who started showing up drunk at my house in the middle of the night. When I became the student representative at the university committee that oversees the teaching, I learned that the faculty knew all about this man. They said they put him in charge of the first-year lab because that meant they wouldn’t have to interact with him. Already at that age, I had internalized the sense that females don’t matter to such an extent that it never occurred to me to protest. And I wasn’t the only one. When this man retired, some 15 years after I graduated, he was made an honorary member of the physics student association. After all, he’d always helped out with events.
I was preparing to submit my “top 5 of creeps” but deleted it. I’m scared some of them might come across this site and start harassing me again if they recognize themselves. I thought they would have little power over me after all these years but I guess some things just don’t leave you. To those who were brave enough to share their story: THANK YOU. I am sad these things happened to you but it helps to know I’m not alone.