SMC Review: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

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This book was incredibly hard to read.

Not because of the style, but because of the subject. Laura Bates and her hashtag campaigns of #everydaysexism and #shoutingback have been doing excellent work for some time, but seeing all of this collected in one book was an immense emotional punch in the gut for me.

Until a few weeks ago I would have told you that I was not a victim of sexism. That I lived in a world where I have never experienced sexism. It has never had an impact on my choice of qualifications, my choice of career, my choice of pastimes – even though I studied Maths (a traditionally male dominated subject at A-Level), worked in partnership with the army (a male dominated career choice) and have been a science fiction and fantasy fan and a roleplayer for more than 10 years (all male dominated pastimes).

This book articulated many of the concerns I have had about the behaviour of various social groups, my past employers and the media that I engage with – it did so with far more grace, balance and evidence than I would have been able to summon on such emotive arguments. It neatly balances statistics and anecdotal evidence to give readers a sense of the scope of the problem and the personal impact it has upon people’s lives.

For that reason I think it should be mandatory reading for everyone. I almost wrote every ‘woman’ there, but no – it needs to be read by EVERYONE. 

What I liked most about this book is that it does not sweep the issues endured by men and trans people under the carpet. It highlights them as part of the overarching problem, which is the dominance of patriarchy and the prescribed roles that it enforces for men and women in a strict and harshly policed binary opposition. This text is not misandrist, it does not paint straight men as evil or the sole perpetrators of this sad and sorry situation, a situation where at the time of writing, one in three women in the world will be raped or beaten by her partner in their lifetimes. It views men as being victims of the society we live in too, and as much in need of a cure for this social pandemic as women. 

If you have ever thought that sexism and its ills were a thing of the past think again. Read this book and see your entire life through a new scope. It will make you re-examine the thousands and thousands of daily occurrences and decisions that you make without question, but in a world of true equality would not happen, and would not be necessary, and would certainly not be taken for granted as ‘normal’. 

I had to put this book away for a day or two half way through it, and it has brought some issues up which I am going to have to deal with. Things that were bumps in the road of my life which I now see are actually lumps under the carpet, made up of all of the mess which has been swept under there and ignored for years. 

It’s not a read for the fainthearted. But it is one which is essential. For everyone. 

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