Van has finished reading…Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

27 Aug

‘We’ve reached our tipping point and we’re not afraid to say it. We’re not afraid to be dismissed, or belittled, or laughed at anymore, because there are too many of us. There’s no silencing someone who has tens of thousands of others standing right behind them. We can’t be silenced when we’re all saying the same thing.’

I wanted to start with that quote because this is the saddest book I’ve ever read, the saddest I’m ever likely to. Yet it’s uplifting too, funny in places and genuinely heart-warming and this, I think is one of its strengths. I confess that I struggle to find sensible words to describe the experience. Let me start with this. This is not based on a true story. This is not a glossed, glamoured, airbrushed, Hollywood-dipped impersonation of a true story. This is a conglomeration of many, many true experiences. These are the lives, day to day – day to day – of women. People you know. Your daughter your sister your mother your grandmother your wife your girlfriend your friend.

It’s taken me a while to get through it. This is not a quality issue. The book is very well presented and the writing (technically speaking) is easy to read. It’s what it actually says that’s not so easy. It’s the fact that it’s so unremitting. My teeth still ache a little. The extent of what women go through, daily, is astounding. As if that weren’t enough, it’s how that treatment is perceived that is truly unforgiveable. And just how early it begins. Do you have children in Primary school? Then there’s a fair chance they’ve heard rape jokes. Jokes about rape. Along with #everydaysexism and #shoutingback perhaps we should also have #rapeisnotfunny. Ask your kids what jokes they hear at school. Teach them that it’s okay to say ‘that’s not funny’.

This is not a book solely for women. There is nothing restrictive here. More men should read this book. For every man that does there’s a good chance that’s going to be one less exacerbating this situation. Men should tell their friends to read this book. Men should tell their friends to look at the timeline for @everydaysexism. If they feel the need to dismiss it tell them it could be their relation, their friend sending that tweet in. Make it personal. Tell your women friends too. All of them – mums, wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters. It’s highly probably they will identify with this book’s message. And in so doing you may well offer them one of the most important gifts you can – awareness. Awareness that they are not the problem, that it’s not their fault, that they are right to challenge it and that there are ways to do so safely.

Laura Bates, thank you. Thank you for persevering despite all you’ve seen and heard. Thank you for offering us all a way to see what’s in front of us. Thank you for opening our eyes.

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