Thursday, 21 August 2014

Everyday sexism

In the face of sexism, maybe we all need to be a bit ruder and nastier.

The Everyday Sexism Project documents 'experiences of sexism, harassment and assault to show how bad the problem is and create solidarity.' Here are a couple of examples:

Carrying baggage

I bought some luggage from a nice man in a shop, talked to him about needing a big bag because I have a baby and lots of stuff to carry. I faffed about a bit, not sure whether or not to buy it, and when I went ahead he said: "you can always pretend you’ve had it for ages – that’s what you women do."

I wondered what he was talking about. But then it clicked – 'he thinks I’m hesitating because I will have to explain to my husband why I spent the money!'

As it happens I (a) have a good job and make my own money and (b) don’t have a man to answer to since he buggered off (with all the luggage).

It’s a very minor incident - a crass comment made by someone from a different generation who didn’t really think it through. But it does highlight some widely held assumptions about women, namely:
  • we are financially dependent on men
  • we have to answer to men for decisions we make
  • we are more likely to make rash consumer choices than men

Should we talk back?

My little run-in with everyday sexism was a very minor anecdote, and no, I didn't pull him up on it, because he was basically a nice man, who didn't think before he spoke.

Maybe I should have, but I didn't want to offend him, and I suppose I was also afraid of the "Tuh! Women" reaction that I was quite likely to get. Probably I should have pulled him up on it, because how can people change if we don't tell them what they're doing wrong? And how can society if individuals don't?

I should have been a rude, nasty girl.

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