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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Johannah

I know it was a Thursday

It is hard to be a teenage schoolgirl –
to be – in navy pleated skirt and blazer,
white knee socks, white shirt, red-house stripy tie
– racing colours on a concrete estate

You negotiate the safest route home.
Risk the lift? Or take the several flights
of hard stairs to the fifth floor – to your flat?
You have to make decisions like that daily

with your racing heart betting on safety
first. The lobby is empty. You gamble on the lift; it shudders – a creaking
silver
metal cage; you sound-check behind you – all
still clear- the thump of its landing – await

the slow-sliding opening – impatient
as a filly under starters orders
at the gate – bolt inside and check outside.
He is hard. You realise. You see
that
he speaks with a glassy eye. You take in

the words but hope the lift door will keep on
closing. You calculate he will not have
time to step inside, holding his hard penis
outside his unzipped trousers. He is not

old but he’s older. You are glad you did
not politely press the ‘Door Hold’ button
to answer the query that issued from
his mouth as sociable inanity.

It was an eternity until you
willed – you urged the lift door to shut out – to
shoot off (not cut off his penis) while you
answered ‘No. Sorry. I don’t know what floor

Susie lives on.’ And stood still shuddering
alone in Benny Hill territory:
the world of chubby, bespectacled men
squinting and lolling their protruding tongues.

We should be laughing. The lift bears you
up and away. What if the door had slammed
and sliced it in half? And you would now be
in this metal box with something bigger,

thicker than a dismembered white finger
bloodied on the silver floor. A
buckle
on your black school shoe gleams up as you figure
the number of inches and feet to cover

the flit from lift to front door; he can’t beat
you and the lift to the fifth floor, can he?
The lift judders. You’re easy meat.
It opens
on two flat doors. No spying eye
except

on number eight- a drilled hole in the door
to invigilate against strangers’ claims
to entrance. Feet float in trance on concrete
ground; your house key blinks about the lock.

You dwell in silence. Enter your front door.
You tell no-one. You and your sister go
to Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop
– stock up on cans and meat near Stockwell tube.

(That’s how you know it happened on a Thursday.)

We giggle, swopping prices on pork chops
to get the cheapest deal; and later, laden
with weighty jars in plastic carrier bags,
thin, red bands strip raw our small, white fingers.

Back to Clapham from the shop, it’s a trudge:
we are not flying steeds but burdened beasts
under a winter-navy, silver sky.
‘Let’s hope,’ says Mary, ‘the lift is working.’

L

Group discussion at work about a team member getting married. My 50 something male boss the says to me, “you must be the last single one in the team”… no, I think you’re forgetting the 4 male members of the team who are unmarried.

Lisa Harbisher

In my most recent job I have encountered sexism more so than any other, I work in the beer industry. However two incidents stand out from male colleagues who had issues with me because I was their boss. One was older one was younger. The older one admitted that he had an issue with me as the boss because I was a woman. The younger proved to be unsuitable for his role at the company and as his manager I told him he would have to improve to keep his job, this he didn’t do and he was dismissed. The next week he phoned the company owner to talk about how I had bullied him and that I was the main problem in the company. Even after the company owner, a man, told him it was not just me who thought he was not suitable for the role but him as well, he still sent an abusive email against me specifically, with everything he thought I had said and done wrong. Nothing was his fault and I was the only one who had a problem with his working standards. During his time at the workplace he didn’t like it when I offered advice or encouraged him telling him I wanted him to succeed. He appeared to think he didn’t have to listen to me and believed I was wrong and he was right. It saddens me to think this young guy will go through life like this, because it will make it very difficult for him. I don’t know whether I got his attitude across clearly but there was an under current of disrespect from the start that I didn’t see him show to other male managers. I won’t let it get me down because it’s pretty pathetic that he felt this way and shows a lack of intelligence and character, I just feel sorry for him.

kristina

i was having my first job interview ever in my life. I had a boyfriend at that time and our relationships were getting more and more complicated. Just before the interview he called me and said that I should suck the interviewers dick if I want to get the place. I had to go and represent myself after these words. I got the job and I became really good in my profession. Im sure the guy doesnt even remember saying this to me back then three years ago.

I’d Rather Not Say

In fifth grade we had to run the track for P.E (like anyone ever). My step sister had just finished healing her sprained ankle and my friend hurt her ankles competing in track the day before. Our coaches made us run four laps once a week and we just didn’t have time to finish. When it was time to line up, some of the boys were cracking jokes to each other about how slow we were. They even started talking about how stupid and dumb we were. (The three of us were in gifted!) When my teacher heard, he just responded with, “It’s true”

At the end of the year they gave out shirts to the fastest runners in the grade. I got one but my friends didn’t. The same boys were saying they were shocked, but then made fun of my friends. They also managed to make fun of me.

I was disgusted.

Samantha

I am an undergraduate student who recently got accepted into medical school, and I could not be more excited. Over the years, I have shadowed many physicians in preparation for my future career. Many of the male doctors assume I want to go into women-dominated fields such as OB/GYN or pediatrics without bothering to ask me if my interests lie elsewhere. Many male physicians have asked me how I plan to manage a family on top of my career and want to know if I’ve considered that I would be missing prime years of my life for childbearing during medical school. I found these comments and questions extremely personal and insulting and felt very discouraged by them. I highly doubt male students get these questions. I even had one doctor offer to let me shadow him only to find out later that he used shadowing as means to get to know me because he thought I was attractive. He wanted to have inappropriate relations with me and promised if I “stuck” with him he could help me get into medical school. It opened my eyes to how women are viewed in the medical field and motivated me to work harder than ever to prove to myself and other physicians that I am worthy of saving lives and helping others regardless of gender. As a physician, I will treat all people with respect and hope to encourage more women to enter the medical field.

Ariana

I have eorked in a msle fominated industry for over 20 years. In general the men behave well, but they are confysed about hiw to approach ne. All swearing stops immediatrly they notice me, so they obviously feel tgat different stsndards apply. Get to doors can be a pain becausd of the confusion as to whether thry shoukd open it – I lije to be independent.
A few less positive examples – my MD used to put one finger down my arm quite often, but I still believe tbat he thought that it was a gesture of support, he never did anythjng else. I am sure that where are work has a triple glazed glass ceiling, as no woman has succeeded in staying in the management team. Women all have admin roles with the exception of a new engineer. I see that men do not want to really accept women as scientists in my working environment, we are accepted as organising the xmas do, or doing works open days and looking after the photocopier. One production manager never seens to actually want to talk about work and only seems to come alive when sex related subjects come up. Is this “men are from mars and women are ftom venus”? My boss similar lives double entendres and I can see one if my younger male colleagues often feelin awkward when this type if conversation has occurred.
I made a chojce in the late 1980s to follow the ideal that women should be scientists and enter heavy industry, but I honestly think that the nen were not and still are not prepared for hiw to deal with women. My work based social life is restricted because the men worry about being accused of having an affair. So I think clearing guidelines are needed to help both sexes treat each other better.

Annie

I used to think that men wanting to touch me was because maybe I was polite and kind and they mistook me. If you keep a stern face and angry face they won’t hurt you. That seemed to work for the longest time. But recently I was diagnosed with thyroid condition and the medication was making me emotionally soft. I used to think well I am only going to live in the world for a limited time why not be kind anyway even if it hurts. My boss knows my family enjoys port wine and good quality wine occasionally. He mentioned about a company picnic. Keep in mind that I see this boss as my father about my father’s age. I have so much respect for him or atleast I did till the following happened. I said sure I would love to go pick up some port bottles for my parents. We had lunch and had a glass of wine. After his second glass he wanted to see my hand. I asked why and he said “I can palm read” . I laughed it off just because this was my boss. Hesitantly I said okie but I don’t believe in it. He said well let me see after he touched my palm and said a thing or two here and there about some future and something about my parents. I tried to take my hand back. Growing up I knew to trust my intuition when a touch is not appropriate. Right then he took my hand said I want to feel human touch and held onto my palm. I was so afraid to say anything and in a minute I said I have to go the restroom. He told me this was different from work and that is not work atmosphere and that we are two different people here at the vineyard. Once again I was in a shock but said nothing because we had carpooled from work. I changed the subject and said “oh isn’t it time to get back. Let me get some water. If this wasn’t an isolated place I would have driven off or confronted that I am not comfortable with such things.
The reason I never bought it up was because he has an upper hand in making sure my work visa gets approved. I didn’t want to destroy my career if he messed it up. If my parents ever find this out, I know they will be overprotective and say forget working as an engineer in a male dominated world. Why are these things not obvious to men?

Rose

When I had my daughter and I returned to work I had an awful experience if being accused of being an unfit mother 2 days in a row infront of middle managers. Not one manager stood up for me either time. Fortunately my boss intervened. This opinion was from a 60+ year old man in the early 1990s. He later sppologised when he saw me with her 2 yesrs later. I think that this arose ftom my approach being opposite to what he had done and to accept mine he had to challenge whether he had had the right attitude to his wife, by making her stay at home. Effectively I had challenged his values.

Jenny

University of Durham, Careers Fair:

I was talking to a guy from Morgan Stanley and he was like how can I help you, and I said give me a job, and he replied first you give me a blow job.

I was shocked that some representing a large, multinational, financial institution thought that this would be an acceptable comment to make.