The Everyday Sexism Project exists to catalogue instances of sexism experienced by women on a day to day basis. They might be serious or minor, outrageously offensive or so niggling and normalised that you don’t even feel able to protest. Say as much or as little as you like, use your real name or a pseudonym – it’s up to you. By sharing your story you’re showing the world that sexism does exist, it is faced by women everyday and it is a valid problem to discuss.

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2014-04-12-12-09-52

This evening my flatmate told me that the only women who are capable of working in settings such as the police force or the fire service are "dykes" who are built "like men". In the same conversation I was also told that "the feminists" and "the PCers" have gone too far and that things need to be corrected in order to redress the balance, as women are now granted opportunities they should not have.

One of the saddest and to me most incomprehensible things about this is that my flatmate is a woman. She is also small, slight and does a job which requires a considerable amount of physical strength and stamina.

2014-04-12-01-51-24

When I was in school on a regular train commute, in my uniform and about 14 years old, I was sitting across the narrow aisle from a group of men who were boasting in a really nasty way about bashing up their wives and girlfriends. It was very graphic. When I glanced up my eyes were met with a very sinister look from one of them, who rose his voice so I could clearly hear what he was saying. It was like they were saying "yes girly, this is what you're worth...nothing". They were sneering at me when talking about laying punches into the heads and breasts of the women in their lives. This was 1975. For what it is worth, they were "blue collar" workers - very "rough and tough" in their appearance, coming home from work from what looked like very physical jobs. They were all very strong and muscular, but the "ring leader" looked to be in his 60's. I always remember them, because even though it would be rare to hear a group of men talking out loudly like that on public transport these day, I have never dared harbour the notion that a lot of men don't still think like that, on the inside. It was horrifying. I never told anyone. There was no law against it. It was just a bad day on the train. I felt so sorry for the women in their lives.

2014-04-11-17-10-28

I thought he was perfect, he made me happy, I could tell he cared about me. We got along perfectly, shared many interests, and had successfully been seeing each other for about a year. We were only 17, but somehow we managed to sustain the relationship- we were proud of ourselves, having set the class record. I was convinced that I loved him, and I decided that he was the guy I should lose my virginity to- it felt right. He had no interest initially, but things took a rapid turn when we wound up in bed together. He was terrified of hurting me at first, but the minute he was inside me he refused to stop, going far too hard and deep for comfort- I could feel myself bleeding. I don't know if you remember losing your virginity, but if you do, imagine that pain multiplied by about 10. I called out multiple times, I screamed, but no matter what he kept going. He was stronger than me, I couldn't get him off. I didn't know what to do so I just shut my eyes and cried into his shoulder, hoping for it to end, sobbing pleas for him to stop.
Bad enough, yes. Before I left his room, tears running down my face and barely able to walk, he smiled at me confidently and told me "You enjoyed that.". I just shook my head and left, unable to speak, feeling betrayed and deeply hurt- and violated.
And that's how I lost my virginity.

2014-04-11-14-26-44

Many examples over my lifetime. Here are a few:
1. In year 12 I was one of two girls in a physics class with about 6 boys. The male teacher frequently said " I believe in treating women as if they're equal". Apparently his idea of a joke.
2. At Uni, I remember a male Professor saying of a female PhD student -" She'll end up working in a knitting shop". She finished her PhD. I don't recall him making similar comments about the male PhD students ( even those who dropped out).
3. One male colleague and one male boss who would walk up behind me and slide their arms around my waist. I never said anything. Now I would ask them to stop.
4. Same boss asked me after I had worked for him for a year if I was planning to become a Mother soon.
5. Same boss would complain to someone on the phone (within my hearing, although out of sight) that he had to pay me the same salary as a male who had a whole year more experience. We both had the same qualifications.
6. Same boss who sacked me about 4 weeks after I returned from sick leave. I believe he thought I was pregnant, which I wasn't.
7. A work colleague who always argued with me that it would be too difficult for my children (I didn't have any at the time) if I didn't take my husband's surname on marriage.
8. At Uni I was sitting in a bus stop reading and a flasher exposed himself. It was fairly traumatising for me - compounded by the fact that when I told my Mother she asked "What were you wearing?".
9. I was standing in my street conversing with a male neighbour and a female neighbour when a car of young men drove past and honked the horn and yelled out "sexy" at us.The male neighbour said to my female neighbour and I " lift up your tops and show them, girls".
10. Numerous times when walking with my teenage daughters cars of young men have honked and/ or yelled out obscenities at us
11. Some members of my family disregarding the fact that I did not change my surname on marriage.
12. In primary school I was made to sit next to the naughty boys and told to control them.
13. I had another boss whose reaction when I told him I was pregnant was "Shit" rather than the customary "Congratulations".
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes I think the people who say these things or act these ways don't realise how damn boring and predictable they are.

2014-04-11-10-43-32

I was vaguely friendly with two brothers I knew at school, who are old money and substantially above me class-wise. Older brother (let's call him Bill) married a woman from Latvia and among all the congratulations on Facebook he made many comments about how western men should avoid western women, who are all fat, lazy, career-oriented and so on; and should marry Asian or Eastern European women instead. Many of his male friends, along with his new wife, enthusiastically agreed. A few years later I got engaged to my husband (who is Japanese) and Bill sent me a Facebook message asking if I had considered the "cultural differences" in the relationship, saying my husband was likely to cheat or divorce me because Australian women just can't compare to their foreign counterparts. Bear in mind I hadn't seen this man since high school and we only chatted occasionally on Facebook. I didn't dignify this with a response, just unfriended him.

I still have Bill's brother (let's call him John) added on Facebook, and he got in touch not too long ago. He's marrying a Japanese woman who is moving to Australia to be with him, and he wanted to invite me and my husband on a double date with them so his wife would have someone from her own country to talk to. How about NO?

2014-04-11-05-34-44

I prefer to jog at night instead of daylight because the roads are quieter and l become harder to see. This way I don't get yelled at and startled by men in passing cars. I jog to relax and de stress because I suffer from anxiety. Being yelled and honked at turns an activity that is supposed to be relaxing into one that is anxiety provoking. It is not a complement for me to be screamed at by a passing vehicle, I find it threatening and aggressive. If that person where to walk up to me and politely pay me a complement, I would be flattered.