“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings." - Gloria Steinem
I have told some of my male peers of this quote and they did not understand it. I don't blame them for that, but it made it so clear to me one of the bigger problems with equality today. Too often men don't see what women are subjected to each day: the cat calls, the yells, the jokes... Because to them it's just an occurrence that one time. They simply do not see it in the perspective women do every day. And if we can't see it, is it real?
Everyday Sexism discusses just this. How different it is to be a woman in a patriarchal society and how difficult it is to tackle an issue that is almost invisible to almost half the Earth's population. It explains separate situations where sexism occurs - which is everywhere - and exactly how it affects the view on women in general even if there are small things that happen. It's how we normalize these things as a whistle on the street, a "harmless" joke, and all of these things women meet every day. Bates creates a horrifying picture that, sadly, is very much real. She does it from several angles of everyday life: the workplace, politics, school, on the street... Most importantly, she tells the story where the truth is that few people are ready to stand up in these situations, and how this must change.
Not long ago we had a whole day on traffic security, you know, the usual don't drink & drive. But also, we had a police and two firemen talk of their work and such. The presentation of the don't drink & drive was full of pictures considered sexist. Women leaning over railings in barely any clothes, looking suggestively to the camera, jokes on "male" and "female" driving and more. Few people reacted. Many, almost all people, noticed them and admitted they were sexist, but did not spoke up against it. When the firemen spoke of their work, they mentioned several tools they had while working. "Scissors" they used to cut metal. There was one big and one small. The smaller one had they named "girl scissor" (roughly translated). A girl asked why they named it that. The answer was because it was lighter. After a couple of seconds the fireman explained some of the female firemen had agreed to the name. After these presentations, some people went to our principal and reported complaints on the sexist lecture. Word got out in school they had done this, and people didn't understand or thought they overreacted. In fact, some even made fun of the girls who complained. This is the problem, which Bates explains so well in her book. We can choose to be blind for it, dismiss it as nothing of real value, and that it's an overreaction.
I sincerely wish for everyone to read this book, both men and women. Because sexism works both ways, and it affects all of us whether we want it to or not. No one can escape the fact that we live in a male dominated society, but we must understand what it actually means, and what it leads to. That is what Everyday Sexism does. It goes through in detail all the ways we are affected, why sexism can still exist today even after several waves of feminism shout outs, the things we can do to work for a world where complete equality can exist. This book is one that will open up eyes to the struggles women face each day, and why no one should be objectified simply for their gender. Honestly, I'm almost a bit surprised this kind of reading is not mandatory for youths all over the world. It might not solve it, but it will create a whole perspective for many people. Everyday Sexism would be my first choice for anyone interested in learning more on the sexism in today's society.