You know how I include a quote at the beginning of every book review? With this book though, Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, I struggled picking one. Why? It was simply because I wanted to include the entire text of this book for you to read. Frankly, I think this book is something everyone should read.
Going in, I was not sure what to expect from this book. I have to admit, I was very wary. Would it handle the topic in a good way or would it shove things under the rug? I have to say, this book starting airing out so much of the stuff people had previously swept under the carpet, normalized, et cetera. I loved it.
I think the greatest asset this book has is the inclusion of real stories from real women (and men) about their experiences surrounding sexism, assault, abuse, et cetera. Reading these stories made me realize many things. Obviously, sexism is still running rampant. However, I knew that already, being a woman myself. The biggest thing as it relates to me though? I have been incredibly lucky in the grand scheme of things. Now, I am just starting out in my career, so who knows what is coming on that front. Although I seem to have an indicator that the fact I am a woman of childbearing age will likely have a negative impact on my career.
No, I realized I am lucky in that I have not been raped, molested, abused, et cetera, like so many of the women who shared their stories in here have. With that said, there were many stories that rang true to me. I would like to share a couple, to show how well this book demonstrates…real life.
“I joined a dating site. Got one message instantly. ‘I’d pay to ram you up the ass.’ And guess what his excuse was when I argued with him? ‘Chill out love, it’s just banter.’ It really isn’t.”
I think it was around March last year when I had a similar experience. I was on a dating website and low and behold, I got a nasty message. I do not remember exactly what the guy said to me, but I know it was something similar to the message printed above. I deleted my account the same day I got that message. I am sure there are nice guys on these sites, but I found that I had to go in cautious like that. I had to take myself out of that equation because of that harassment.
Along the same lines, this book had stories about girls experiencing harassment in clubs. I know all about this. I have heard the stories. This, along with the unpleasant, crass, and even violent ways some guys will respond to a polite “no” to their advances, is why I chose to give a fake number to a guy one of the few times I went out to a club. Did he seem nice? Sure. However, I was not interested and among a couple other thoughts, I just went with a fake number because I felt like that would be safer for me than saying no, because what if he turned violent?
This book is true. It tells you why I, among many other women, do not feel safe walking home when it is getting dark out…or even when it is light and there is a guy a few feet behind me. It also shows you why I will either sit alone or always beside another woman on the bus. It tells you why I know some friends ask me to text them when I get home. Why I gave out a fake number because of a potentially violent reaction. Why many women live so cautiously.
This book does a great job at showing the impact of sexism on women, plain and simple. In addition to this though, I think what is just as important is how it brings men into the conversation. Sexism affects men too! Too often you will hear things like “you throw like a girl” and have them be intended as an insult. On this front, the book talks about how men struggle in terms of paternity leave, custody battles, if they want to be a nurse, et cetera. The inequality between men and women (it exists) is still there and it affects both sides. Of course, as this book points out, they are not the same thing even with the fact that both sides are affected.
Overall, I think this is a brilliant book and you need to read it. It will make you feel frustrated, maybe shocked, angry, annoyed, et cetera. Even though the subject matter is serious, I also found myself smiling at the ways women are standing up.
We know. Enough is enough.
I highly recommend you pick this one up and give it a read.
Title: Everyday Sexism
Author: Laura Bates
Publisher: Simon & Schuster