In just twelve months, the Everyday Sexism project has logged almost 25,000 experiences of sexism, serious assault and even rape. The project's founder, Laura Bates, has received death threats and hate mail. Here she tells us why it's time to go global...
VIDEO: Laura Bates on why she set up @EverydaySexism
Everyday Sexism already existed when the Everyday Sexism Project launched this time last year, we just brought a lot of it together in one place and let people see the sheer extent of the problem. Within minutes of launching stories began to trickle in – stories from women and girls who’d been told to ‘stop making a fuss’ or ‘learn to take a compliment’ or had their experiences dismissed and silenced elsewhere. It was a movement waiting to happen – word spread quicker than I could have imagined, and the project simply snowballed as more and more women spoke up. This week we will have logged 25,000 entries and now we are going global, with brand new sites launching in 15 countries around the world.
Running the project for the last twelve months has triggered a rollercoaster of emotions, from shock and anger at so many tales of harassment and sexual assault, to euphoria at the huge number of success stories that has started to pour in as the movement gains momentum. Some of the low moments, like receiving up to 200 death and rape threats a day for days on end, and hearing that there was nothing the police could do about it, just showed me that the project was more necessary than ever.
The stories themselves, ranging from street harassment and catcalling to workplace sexism and prejudice, groping and touching in clubs and bars to sexist taunts and pressure in schools, make shocking reading. Thousands of women have written to the project to report sexual assault and rape. They have reported experiences they’d never revealed to anyone before – never told their families or friends, never reported to the police. If their voices tell us anything, it’s that it’s time to start listening.
Words: Laura Bates