Laura Bates’s book brings the everyday experience of women to reality, forcing all to think about the kind of society we maintain and how this impacts both women and men.
UPON RECEIVING an Amazon gift voucher of £25 when I left my previous job, I decided, as it was essentially free money, I would spend it on something I wouldn’t if the money were my own. As someone who has been converted to reading on a Kindle, the “money” was always intended to be spent on digital books and not, say, a green silicone spatula. Buying b
ooks in digital form is a tricky game as, although you still get the book and the words and the same joy from the book, you don’t get the book. Not really. It can’t sit on your shelf for the next five years, be packed away to one day be rediscovered or be passed on for a friend to enjoy. Pricing is another contentious point when buying a digital book for the reasons stated above. How much are you willing to pay for a book that isn’t a book? My limit tends to be £3.69, give or take a few pence.
So it was with my free money that I decided to do something I hadn’t done before and pay £7.73 for a digital edition of Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates. I’d heard echoes of Laura on the radio and in the news but had not gone so far as to visit her website The Everyday Sexism Project. However, I knew I liked this woman and supported her cause. As someone who would happily identify as a feminist and challenge casual sexism if I were to come across it, I was happy to give Laura my former employer’s money.
The Everyday Sexism Project, as it begun, is a website for women to share their stories on a public forum and to build a global view of the barriers, abuse and
prejudices women face on a daily basis. The power of the project comes in it’s numbers, with the sheer quantity of submissions evidencing the struggles women face in our societies; making casual dismissals or refuting the existence of sexism today all the more nonsensical. The book, then, is divided into chapters which draw on the submissions to the website while using statistics to illuminate the issues at hand; whether this be sexism in workplace, in the media, in education, in the family or the many other areas which are explored. The format works well as readers have an overview of the issues and personal accounts which humanise the numbers we are presented with. The book builds a strong and vivid picture of the sexism occurring today and, as a male reader, you are confronted with many instances of shock and empathy for the women sharing their stories. From people who have been sexually assaulted from strangers on the street, the bus and or in the workplace to those being objectified, groped, mistreated and abused from family members, colleagues, lecturers and peers. The injustice and inequality is blatant and astounding. Anyone who is a female, or knows a female, will surely be able to accept that the behaviour of some pe
ople and some companies and some media groups are contributing to a culture which is unnecessarily harsh and damaging to half of the population and that changes in attitude must continue to evolve to something more like equality.
As someone who has read a
small amount of feminist theory through works by academics such as Judith Butler, Germain Greer, Kate Millet and Naomi Wolf, this book is perhaps a more accessible and striking perspective of the female struggle today. It may make you question your own behaviours and attitudes, could bring you into the feminist fold or, if nothing else, you’ll have more awareness of an issue. And that’s the power of a book. Whether or not it’s a book or a digital book at £7.73, it’s always worth your (or your former employer’s) money.