Are We Nearly There Yet?
April 5, 2013 | by Faber Social
Laura Bates of The Everyday Sexism Project reflects on how the battle against sexism is far from won.
This month, on International Women’s Day, media commentators, television panels and radio show hosts in the UK mused over whether or not such an event was really necessary any more. Surely, some argued, there is nothing left to fight for.
That night, I attended a brilliant networking event. Promising young students from local schools were invited to come together and meet leading women from the world of business and politics. The girls were inspirational – nominated by their schools for their passion, hard work and extra curricular activities. One of them told me she’d started a club for students applying to do medicine at university; another was making a film in her spare time.
But as I walked through the room, meeting these talented students, each and every one of them told me a story about learning a different kind of lesson. The first told me how, travelling to school on the tube since the age of 12, she’d learned to accept that men pushing up against her, touching her, even slowly stroking their hands up her legs, was just part of the journey. The second told me three of her friends had been raped before reaching the age of 16. A third said she didn’t have a single female friend who hadn’t experienced sexual harassment.
This was not a coincidence. These were not isolated incidents. But these girls hadn’t reported them, because they had learned that they were ‘normal’ – just part of being a woman.
Our best, brightest young minds are dealing with sexual assault on a daily basis just to get to school and don’t even know that this is the label for what is happening to them. As long as this is what passes for ‘normal’, the battle is far from won.