Tuesday 29 March 2016

Review! - Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Title: Everyday Sexism

Author: Laura Bates

Genre: Non-fiction

Release Date: 5 Apr 2016 (This Edition)

Amazon: UK - USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book from publishers St. Martin's Griffin via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
The opportunity to review this book came up ahead of the release of a new special hardcover library edition from Thomas Dunne Books for St. Martin's Griffin.

Now, from the start, I'm going to be honest - this is the most difficult review I have ever written.

You know why? Because this book is about sexism and feminism - and, apart from the fact that I could talk about this book for literally hours (this is a fairly long review, just a warning,) people tend to get just a little bit f**king crazy on both sides of this debate.

So, at the risk of people yelling at me/misinterpreting what I'm saying, let's give this a shot!


You think sexism doesn't exist in the 21st Century? Think again.

This book, from the founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, Laura Bates, sets out to make clear what women all over the world have to face every single day.

Best bits:

Laura Bates doesn't strike me as a f**king crazy sort of person - she strikes me as pretty cool, all in all. She's funny, chatty, and has a nice writing style - she's also hugely passionate about the project, and that passion shines through throughout.

You know the scary part about this book? I wasn't surprised by most of it.

Being catcalled or wolf-whistled? Been there. Being felt-up or leered at? Been there too. Having my opinions dismissed because I'm a woman? Damn right I've been there.

girls on a bench talking
The thing is - I agree with what Ms Bates says. We brush it off.

We don't make a fuss. And in that way, it's made to seem normal - something we should just learn to live with; which, in 2016, is disgraceful.

We wonder if we're over-reacting, or even imagining things: I can remember a more mature dude leaning over while walking past me in the street, in order to look down my jumper - I didn't say anything, because what if he was just... I don't know, losing his balance?

It sounds silly, but he was walking alongside a lady of about the same age, who was right next to him, and didn't react at all.

We were the only people walking there (I live in a semi-rural town, complete with lack of foot-traffic in the middle of the day,) so I figured I must have misinterpreted a simple stumble, or have been imagining things, or whatever.

But then, I'm short with relatively ample breasts. It's not the first time someone's taken advantage of the height difference to 'lose their balance' around me, and it wasn't the last either.

Bates uses facts and figures to put across her views admirably, eloquently, and logically. Even when you don't agree with her on a point or two, it's easy to see where she's coming from - and to respect her opinions as valid.

The statistics are truly disgusting. The violence against women, the attitudes towards women, and the discrimination against women, is simply unacceptable.

women meetingAnd the interviews, tweets, project stories - they all combine to create a picture of what women go through on a daily basis, simply because they're women.

Women in the workplace, in higher education, online, still have to battle against out-dated attitudes in order to get on in life.

Anyone who thinks that sexism no longer exists needs only to read some of Ms Bates' personal experiences - the horrendous online abuse she has received, the actual fears for her safety - to realise that sexism is all too horrifically real in the modern age.

And, personally, I'd like to thank Ms Bates for all that she's had to go through to give women a voice.

Not so great bits:

I don't agree with everything in this book - if I did, I'd actually be Laura Bates, and then the name on my birth certificate would be wrong.

Nothing wrong with a little respectful debate though - something I'm sure Ms Bates would agree with.

Just for example: I think it's ok to refer to people as dudes and chicks. And, if I'm feeling in a particularly insulting mood, I'd be more than willing to refer to people as b**ches, just as I refer to them as b*****ds. I'm an equal opportunities foul-mouth.

I also think that when it comes to media representation of women, that, sometimes, the portrayal of women as being sexually desirable is acceptable in context - just as all Marvel fangirls have, at some point, admired Captain America's a**.

woman waiting for trainAt the same time, I totally agree that there needs to be less objectification and over-sexualisation in general. It's the amount, the intention, the taste in which it was done - all, unfortunately, very wibbly-lines kind of things.

For me, it all comes back to context: was this important to the plot? How much screen-time/screen-area was focused on the sexualisation?

Did it belittle the gender of the character? Is it out of character? Was it gratuitous? Was this pose even physically possible?

But there's definitely a point in what Ms Bates says - it's everywhere.

When looking for stock photos I could use to 'break up' the text of this review a little, I typed 'women' into stock photo sites.

The amount of beds and underwear involved (as well as legs, thighs, butts, etc.) made me wonder if I'd accidentally found my way onto a soft-porn site (I hadn't.)

This is a legitimate problem - we just have to be very careful not to stifle art and creativity while we're at it.

The book is mainly focussed on the UK and US, though it does mention other countries at various points; this may make it less interesting to those who don't live/have interest in either the US or Britain.

I also got a little over-whelmed by the switching between US and UK, and the amount of statistics - but I struggle with both geography and stats due to suspected dyscalculia, so it may honestly just have been me.

This book is difficult reading - simply because of the amount of rape and violence discussed - both through personal stories and statistics. It's something that had to be written - but it doesn't make for pleasant reading.


Everyone should read this book. Every man and every woman. Because, despite the fact that I disagreed with a few minor points, this is an important book. A book that tells a truth we need to hear.

I mean it. Everyone should read this book. Every man. Every woman. Every parent. Every grandparent. Everyone.

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  1. This looks very informative and very shocking. While I do obviously think that I would disagree with some things, I think this book could really squash the "angry man hating woman" stereotype.

    1. It's OK to disagree with a few points (I do!) But I literally think *everyone* needs to read this book - it's a real wake-up call.

  2. Oh wow this review is just amazing. You've really covered everything I could want to know here. I don't usually read non fiction simply because it isn't my genre, but I have been trying it out more and more and am surprised by how much I am learning. And it is horrifying that sexism and feminism are such big issues today and that so many woman can likely relate!

    1. It's an eye-opening sort of book: and I'm going to encourage literally *everyone* to read it. *Buys multiple copies, shoves them into the hands of friends and family...*

  3. Such an informative and honest review. Being in the process of reading the 2nd edition, I think what strikes me most about this book is how it's actually resurfaced many incidents, however 'trivial', that I've witnessed or been part of and have just repressed. Simply, this book makes me angry. Angry that I've just forgotten about these moments, and therefore accepted them as normal. I think this book is powerful because it's so relatable. It's worrying how relatable it is really... Abby x

    1. Thanks! And yes! I found exactly the same thing - I wasn't expecting it to be relatable at all, but it was like... wow! Yes. 'Everyday' is right!


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