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:

Ana

It happened at my first job two years ago. It was my second day and I didn’t hear my alarm. I rushed to get ready, washed my face, combed my hair, got dressed and jumped into my car. When I parked my car at work, I was 5 minutes early, so I only had time to put on some foundation and lipstick quickly (I normally use blush, eye shadow and mascara). At the end of the day, my boss (let’s call him FE) asked me if he could give me some advice. FE then told me “You are a pretty woman, you should wear make up,” his face with a hypocrite smile. As he said this, I felt embarrassed. Yes, it was true that the day before I had arrived to work with more make up on my face… yet I had some on. I had foundation, my face looked clean, neat. I didn’t know how to react at the moment and I ended up apologizing, I told him I normally used make up, but that I was late that day and hadn’t had the time, and that it wouldn’t happen again. As I walked to my car I felt disgusted and mad. I felt stupid for apologizing for not wearing make up.
One month later, I was waiting in the conference room for a meeting. I had been absent the past two days because my father passed out and I had called work to notify them, and FE had answered. I was sitting alone when he entered the room. My mind was drifting away thinking about the recent events. He paced the room and then he approached me and said “You don’t talk so much, don’t you? I got infuriated by his question but I acted like it didn’t affect me and said no. Was he trying to break me down? Was he serious? Was he acting like he did not know about my dad? He was the one who answered the phone, I had told HIM that my father had died. Yet this was the first time I saw him since that and he had asked me if I don’t talk too much.
Two weeks after that he interrupted my class to discuss some paperwork outside the classroom. When I closed the door behind me and turned around to face him he stared at my stomach and then said “Are you pregnant?” Surprised from the awkward and out-of-place interrogation I said no and then he said “Oh, is just that you look a little nervous.” He then asked me about some papers and I returned quickly to my classroom, my students could tell I was mad. I wasn’t fat nor skinny, yet I kept worrying why he had asked that. I was mad at him for asking such a personal question. I told all my family and friends about this and some of them said it was sexual harrasment. At that time, I didn’t want to report him with the director, because I was scared FE would make me miserable at work (he was my coordinator) and that the director wouldn’t take it seriously or would tell me I was overreacting. One month later I quit because of different reasons, and not so much time after that I regretted not reporting him to human resources or writing a letter to the corporate office in Mexico City explaining my situation. And I still regret it, but there’s little I can do, because he quit his job there and migrated to the US with his family.

Cheryl

Confused and a little shocked in a new job in a city I had just moved to when on the Friday, all of the men left for lunch at 1pm. Noteworthy that one of these men had started in the office only a few days before me and was a local. Later told that I was not allowed to take lunch at 1pm on a Friday because of the standing Boys Pub Club! Ridiculed when I protested at the inherent sexism in having an event only the guys could go to on a weekly basis. I bet you can agree this was a simply wonderful welcome to a new job in a city where I didn’t know anyone. Is it much of a surprise that I lasted less than 6 months there?

Nancy

When I was 10 I was coming back from using the restroom and walking back into the school cafeteria when suddenly a boy classmate the same age as me, grabs my butt quickly and smiled away. I was shocked at first and upset. I knew it was wrong and I thought about reporting this to a teacher but I felt embarrassed and scared to have to tell a teacher. We had both male and female teachers but I was still feeling bad and it was a strange feeling I didn’t know what that was and now I am older I know it was the feeling of humiliation. I was at school where I shouldn’t have to put up with this. It happened again by the same boy a few more times and I felt powerless. I told him not to but I didn’t know what would happen after I reported it. I was afraid everyone in school would hear about it and also it would embarrass my family. I didn’t think it would happen again and again. School is supposed to feel safe whether we are little girls or teenagers or college age. I never told anyone because it was humiliating.

Catherine

I am 13 years old, and absolutely love playing video games with my friends, and being in the team voice channel when I play competitive games. I always found it fun to meet new (nice and supportive) people while I’m playing, until I would run into the inevitable accounts of sexism. I have only once met another girl playing this game (Overwatch), or at least another girl who uses a mic to speak to their teammates. When the people I’m playing with hear my voice, and realize I am female, I either get instant friend requests (which happens almost every game), nothing happens, or someone makes a joke about how I can’t play. Someone once said, “Hey, girl. Bring that ass over here.” Another time it was “Get off your boyfriend’s computer.” The thing that bothers me the most about these comments is that I am discouraged from doing one of my favorite things, which is meeting new people and having fun playing Overwatch. I’m scared to use my mike because I’ve heard the comments that other women get. While watching female YouTubers playing Overwatch, they get constant sexist remarks and have to report people all of the time. All of my friends who play this game are male, and I have no one to relate to or talk to this about, because they don’t understand, or try to change the subject.

jane

when i was just 13 years old, i was out for a walk in my neighborhood at about sunset. as i walked down the sidewalk, a man in a pickup truck drove by with the windows down, and he slowed down next to me. he whistled (like you would whistle at a dog), and looked at me with a look in his eyes that made me want to be sick. He was at least twice my age. as he drove off, i felt a deep, new fear take hold of me. i firmly believe that was the day i became aware that i was no longer a little girl, that i had to watch my own back. i was only thirteen!!! can you imagine?!

Parog

Last weekend I waited to show my train ticket to an inspector; he was taking ages to check the tickets and I’d been holding it out for a while, waiting to return to my book; as he punched it he told me to ‘not look so worried and to cheer up love’. The guy standing next to me had been in the same situation, also holding out his ticket for a while waiting to go back to listening to his music and he wasn’t exactly smiling either – the inspector made no comments towards him. After I left the train and was walking across the bridge to the main station, a 50 – 60 year old male starting walking very closely alongside me, smirked at me and then said he was struggling with his bag. I looked down and saw he was carrying a small suitcase in one hand, and a tote/shopper bag in the other (similar to myself), and to all visual purposes he wasn’t struggling. He smirked again and said ‘come on love, help me, I’m stuggling here, come on sweetheart’. I gave him a look and walked on quickly, worried that perhaps he had been struggling in a sense that wasn’t visible, however I heard him start sniggering and jeering along with a man that had been walking with him that I hadn’t previously noticed. They made me feel small and dirty, but also ashamed, just in case he really had been struggling. I will never know what his full intentions were and it makes me a little sick to think of it…

Aine

I went to sign up for annual membership with a conservation organisation on Saturday with my husband. The man who completed our membership firstly turned to my husband, calling him Mr, and asked him which membership we wanted, assuming him to be the headline member. I interrupted and said it would be taken out in my name, which the man seemed visibly surprised at, and he then proceeded to ask whether I was Mrs or Miss. I responded Ms to the chagrin of my parents-in-law who were also present… Eye rolling between the man and my husband’s parents ensued…

Rosie

Last year, on the way home from school I was making small talk with a boy on my bus. When we got to “hobbies” I mentioned that I did karate. His response was “Oh, nice… have you ever tried it for real though?” Bewildered, I asked what he meant. He replied “You know, like actually doing it. I mean, girls don’t do real karate. They do, like, an easier version that they can handle. You should try it out sometime, it’s pretty cool, my friend does it, he would know.” Looking back, I hate that I let him make me feel embarrassed and not good enough for something I love more than anything.

Orri

I was browsing my friend’s (let’s call her Jane) Instagram the other day when I stumbled on a conversation she had with a guy (re: John) on one of her photos. There was nothing special about their comments, but it bugged me that Jane was talking with John – an ex-boyfriend of my sister’s and also her sexual assailant. Thinking that she shouldn’t hang out with him for obvious personal reasons and mostly because I feared for her safety, I shared with her the story of the assault and urged her to block him completely from her life, both IRL and URL.

I expected her initial reaction to be a sort of a “backlash” or at least denial, since she previously told me of how nice he was and that she considered him to be a good friend. Jane was shocked but she also seemed receptive to my story so we ended up talking quite a lot about it, and even though she was pretty vague on weather she’ll actually act on my advice, I didn’t think too much about it and was sure that she will.

A day later I asked her about him. She told me that she asked some of her friends for advice about John and they told her that they don’t believe my sister’s story at all, that she thought about it herself and realized that “she doesn’t really know my sister that well”, that she “can’t really know if she’s lying or not”, and also because she knows John personally and doesn’t believe he did it since “he’s so nice to her and asks sincere questions”, as if those vague qualities somehow negate him being the fucking sick rapist that he is.

I was furious and stunned. First because I considered Joan to be my best friend – She was the only non family member who I regularly hanged with/talked to. I guessed that if for some reason she (even after the constant feminist talk from my side) won’t see the obvious rape culture surrounding this whole thing, she’ll stop talking to john because, well, my sister’s and thus my feelings were more important than his. I even provided proof, I told her of the rumors about my sister that spread suspiciously after the date of John’s assault on her (she could have asked about that and confirmed their existence), although I knew at this point that even if Joan changes her mind, her and me were through.

You know what was the most infuriating? that this “friend”, a female, a person who has told me countless incidents that happened to her of catcalling, general sexism, verbal taunts, one serious groping/physical assault and the slut-shaming that ensued afterwards – would see the true nature behind john and this situation. that if not for the feminism, rationalism, sentimentalism. then from personal experience.

we fought. i cut all ties with her. yipee. now, let’s get to the fun “where are they now” part, shall we? – these days, apparently, she belongs to a “squad” that counts john and some other female classmates of hers as members. she also posts the occasional video of herself smoking on snapchat.

so much for everything.

that woman

I hate the phrase ‘just cosmetic’. It’s another way of fobbing women off – we’re told we should look our best, but when we try to fix something that isn’t quite right we’re sneered at for being vain.

I’m not talking about boob jobs, I’m talking about things that are actually wrong with you.

When I had fibroids I was told that my concerns about the ‘belly that looks like I’m 5 months pregnant even though I’m nearly 50’ was just cosmetic. Apparently a nearly-50 woman shouldn’t worry too much if she looks a bit big round the middle (I was 5’8″ and weighed 9 stone – I looked like a knot in a piece of string).

When I had a fungal toenail infection (really bad, stemming from time spent in the tropics years ago – every nail affected, some nails totally disintegrated, dry skin that was flaking off even with daily use of industrial-strength foot cream), I was told it was just cosmetic. And yes, no-one died of a fungal nail infection – but I never showed my feet in public. In fact I never showed them in private either, if I could help it. No sandals, no swimming, no showering together. When I finally convinced them to put me onto fairly heavy duty tablets I was told that if it came back they wouldn’t be able to treat it again as – you guessed it – it was just cosmetic really.

A friend of mine has just been fobbed off by an NHS physio – following the birth of her last child she suffers from Diastasis Recti (basically her tummy muscles have parted company, resulting in a very pronounced and oddly shaped belly), but this apparently is just cosmetic. Her freaking muscles aren’t connected properly!!! How can that be just cosmetic!!!

We deserve to have our concerns about our health and our bodies taken seriously. If it matters to us, then it matters.

My husband had a sebaceous cyst on his shoulder – no pain, no concerns that it might be cancerous, just an annoying lump that was starting to be visible through his shirts, and he was self-conscious about it. He mentioned it to the doctor – and it was removed 2 weeks later. His sister had something similar on her forearm – they wouldn’t operate until it was so big she was struggling to bend her elbow. And then of course it was a much bigger op than it should have been, and left a bigger scar.