Shouting Back: Challenging Everyday Sexism

By Siobhan Harper

The Everyday Sexism Project has made waves on Twitter recently with their #ShoutingBack hashtag, inviting women to share their experiences with the casual, normalised misogyny that they are subjected to on a daily basis. The hope is that by ‘shouting back’ to the people perpetuating such behaviour, we can break the silence surrounding it and make a difference. The responses have been in turn shocking, depressing and sadly familiar.

Some women are told they should accept the abuse as a ‘compliment’. Some are aggressively pursued in a misguided attempt at seduction. Some are told they are to blame for the behaviour they endure. Reading through the reams of tweets sent with the hashtag, it’s frightening to see just how much sexist behaviour is being put up with or simply ignored. Many report being molested or abused in some way, with onlookers (in one sad case, the woman’s own mother), simply looking on.

As a woman living in the modern age, it’s hard to wrap your head around. You think it can’t be possible, that we live in age where women command a high amount of power and respect. However, that amount clearly isn’t enough. No matter what she does, or what she achieves, it seems the woman is still seen as little more than a blow up doll by a worryingly large portion of the male population.

Now, it’s important not to simply lump all men into the ‘sexist pervert’ category, but the hashtag highlights a worrying trend of people living in the belief that women are men’s playthings. Despite years of feminism, it seems that the belief of women being ‘lesser beings’ is still alive and well.

The outcome of #ShoutingBack will hopefully be positive. These attitudes persist because they are rarely challenged. If we are harassed by some drunken reveller, or dismissed as ‘just a woman’ at work, we don’t speak up because we’re afraid. We’re afraid for our safety or our reputations. We learn early on as young girls and women that it’s better to withstand it than to stick up for ourselves.

You know what? That attitude is crap and it’s doing us no favours. Why do we let people abuse us and say such awful things without challenging it? It shouldn’t be ‘normal’, and it sure as hell isn’t a ‘compliment’. I salute you, Everyday Sexism Project. If you have a story to share with #ShoutingBack, I urge you to share it. We can only make a difference if we keep pushing against these antiquated attitudes. 

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Fri, 11 Jan 2013 12:30 (GMT+00)
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