everyday sexism

Recently I read a book called Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates, and it is such a brilliant and important read. Everyone should read it. Everyone.

It sparked a lot of things in me, it made me feel angry, more than anything. Angry that as a woman, this is the world I have been brought into and this is the world I now live in. It informed me of many things I was aware of, but not well informed about, and now that I have been well informed, I feel fiercer and angrier than ever.

These things have never been said about me (to my knowledge) but I assume that people (misogynistic men) would refer to me as what they call, a “raging feminist”.

And I am I suppose, because I’m passionate about what I believe in. I’m fierce in standing up for women and I will not back down. I’m not a white feminist, I’m not an “I hAtE mEn” feminist, I am an intersectional feminist who wants equality for women. End of story.

That’s what feminism is. People who believe that feminists are people who hate men have clearly been identifying the word with the wrong people. That is not feminism. Feminists don’t hate men, they just want to be equal to them. When you hear men and their fragile masculinity claiming they hate feminists, what they’re actually saying is that they hate the thought (and feel threatened by the fact) that these men-hating feminists want to essentially overthrow mens’ power and take over from them. Like I said, that isn’t feminism but it more than shows that men know exactly which sex has more privilege yet they continue to sit their in their privilege and do nothing to prevent sexism anyway.

Something I want to talk about is the idea that feminists are angry, rage-filled women who can’t take a joke. That’s the image that instantly comes to my mind when I think of the word “feminist” because that’s the label society has created for it. When I introduce myself to people as a feminist, my first thought is that they think I’m angry and uptight and essentially, not very fun to be around because you’ll have to “watch what you say” in case I explode in a rage-filled feminist rant. How about you, you know, just don’t say anything sexist and we’ll get along just fine. Too hard for you?

The other day, a guy (who I did not know) called me sweetheart in the most condescending way. This guy was from London, and when I proceeded to tell him that “sweetheart” in that tone doesn’t wash with me, he told me I should never come to London then where “horrible men say nice things to me” and should instead stay at home where I’ll be safe. This wasn’t a colloquialism from him, he was simply just trying to be condescending. It might be a shock, but I’m intelligent enough to know the difference. He then told me that I needed help for getting angry over the word sweetheart.

I’ll tell you why words like sweetheart, sweetie, love etc. are condescending in that context.

When someone you don’t know calls you these things, they’re automatically asserting their power and dominance over you because usually these words would only be exchanged between people you’re familiar and comfortable with. I don’t like this. When I call them out on it and say hey, I don’t think so? I’m branded angry, crazy, and someone who can’t take a joke.

I can take a fucking joke. Anyone who knows me would probably call me one of the funniest people they know. The ironic thing is that these Trump-voting men who clearly have a shitty sense of humour since they’re sexist and probably think racist jokes are funny, have the audacity to say us women are the ones who don’t have a sense of humour when we don’t accept their sexist jokes. Hilarious.

If somebody in a natural way calls me sweetheart, either through colloquialisms or just because it’s a natural part of their vocabulary, or even because I’m upset for example and they say something like “It’s okay, sweetheart”, am I going to call them out on it? Of course not. Why? Because shock horror, I’m not crazy! They did nothing wrong. The issue isn’t necessarily about the word itself, it’s about the person saying it, the context, and the tone in which they use it. There’s a difference between someone saying “Are you okay, sweetheart?” and “Alright sweetheart what’s your number?”. As I just said, it might be a shock to some people that we’re you know, conscious beings with a brain, but women do actually have the ability to tell the difference between the two. Amazing. I would actually be able to go to London and survive the terrible people using this word whenever they speak to me! As I have done every single time I’ve been to London thus far in my life. A pat on the back for me.

Another thing is that lately I’ve been wearing more makeup to work. Why? Not like I even need to provide a reason because it’s my choice and my business, but it’s simply because I’ve been getting up earlier in the mornings and therefore have more time to get ready, therefore allowing me more time to do my makeup, meaning I put more on.

Will any man at work accept this as a truthful answer?

There’s currently some kind of rumour circulating that I have a boyfriend, or I’m dating someone…or basically that there’s some “mystery guy” now in my life, simply because of the fact I’ve been wearing more makeup.

Of course, every time I’ve heard this through the grapevine or have been asked directly (too many times) I’ve shut it down. When I present the idea that hey, maybe a girl just wants to wear makeup for you know, her own damn self?? I’m scoffed at and told “yeah yeah, we’ll find out who he is soon”.

The other day, a fully grown man entered my office and outright asked me if I had a boyfriend. The conversation went like this:

Him: Hey so uh, do you have a boyfriend?

Me: Did (insert name here) tell you that?

Him: Well I just heard it around so I thought I’d ask.

Me: Why?

Him: I was just curious.

Me: No I don’t, and even if I did it’s no one’s business. I don’t understand why everyone keeps asking me this?

Him: Well you know, it’s because…

Me: I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for people to comprehend the fact that I might just be wearing makeup for my own self. I don’t understand why people can’t grasp the concept of someone just wanting to change…by themselves, for themselves. I can’t believe everyone thinks that in order for a girl to change their physical appearance in any way, shape or form, it has to be because of a man, or for a man.

Him (panicking): Oh no no I wasn’t trying to say anything! I was just asking about the boyfriend that’s all, nothing else-

Me: No you weren’t. You’ve heard the rumour from other people (men) and have thought you know what, that sounds like a plausible idea! I think I’ll believe it because it also makes sense in my man-brain. Let me ask her about it because that’s perfectly okay.

Anyway, the conversation (if you could call it that) ended with him standing there staring at me with saucer eyes looking like he’d just had his head bitten off, which I suppose he had, because I was fed up and annoyed. Was I a bit “ragey” with him? Yes. Do I have every right to feel and act that way though? Yes. It shut him up anyway and I haven’t heard anything else since, so job done in my opinion.

These are the things that get myself, and many other women, labelled as “raging feminists who can’t take a joke”. The thing is, sexism isn’t a joke. Just like racism and homophobia isn’t a joke. I don’t know why when it comes to women and sexism we seem to think that there’s an exception – oh wait, because we live in a sexist world and society that was built by men, for men – that’s why.

It’s like you’re constantly fighting a losing battle because people just label you as angry and crazy – they feel like they have to tiptoe on eggshells around you and watch what they say. If you’re worried about being surrounded by people whom sexism doesn’t wash with because you’re going to have to watch what you say, maybe the problem is you. Has anyone ever thought about that? Maybe you should be changing your own thought process and vocabulary. If you have to tiptoe around us and be careful about what comes out of your mouth, I think that’s a you problem. There’s nothing wrong with me.

A lot of girls and women simply don’t speak up because they want to please men. He says something sexist that you don’t like? I’ll just laugh it off because I don’t want him to think I’m a “raging feminist”. I don’t want him to suddenly find me unattractive because I stand up for myself. I don’t want him to think I’m “crazy”. The horror! I’ll just sit here and laugh along instead so he “knows I can take a joke”.

And that’s the worst part. We’re still feeding the idea that we as women are here to serve and cater to men. Women are not fucking here for men. We’re here for our own damn selves. If you stand up for yourself and his misogynistic ass calls you crazy and says you can’t take a joke, guess what?? Bullet dodged! Move on! Find a decent person instead! Not a sexist prick who has no respect for you!

We’re the ones that are hurt, yet we’re the ones that have to do the comforting. We say nothing because we’re worried about offending them! If someone gets offended because you stand up for the way they’ve just insulted you…if someone gets annoyed because you won’t let them disrespect you like that…is that someone you want to be around? Is that someone you want to be dating? Having children with? Raising your daughters with? Raising them to have the same mindset as? To believe that they’re here to serve men? That they shouldn’t stand up for themselves because if they show they have intelligence and a personality men won’t like them ??

Never. on. this. Earth.

If a man is sexist towards me or other women and I call them out on it and they get offended, I could not give a flying fuck about whether they like me or not. The idea that we have to be validated and approved by men in that way is a whole separate issue anyway, but the fact of the matter is, why would I even want to be liked by someone like that?? It’s a no from me.

When I find myself talking to men who don’t share this mindset and actually listen to what I have to say and understand where I’m coming from, it’s like I want to encase them in gold and present them to the Gods and say hallelujah !! It’s a miracle ! A decent man ! What a rare gem !

Which is pathetic and is the reason we praise men for doing the bare minimum in the first place. A man who respects women ?? Marry him right now! He’s a keeper!

Ridiculous. But true. And something I’ve been guilty of in the past that I always have to snap myself out of and say Chloe, this man is not Jesus Christ himself. He’s just a decent human being. Shocking, I know. But don’t praise him for giving you the basic respect you deserve. If a man gives me a compliment I’m expected to fall to my knees worshipping the ground he walks on because obviously he’s expecting (and obviously deserves) something in return right? He compliments me and I’m supposed to what, reward him for it?

I don’t think so. If a man compliments me and I don’t “give him anything in return” for it and he thinks I’m a snobby pretentious bitch because of it? So be it. Guess what, I don’t care. I don’t owe you anything.

Women do not owe men anything.

Never ever, forget that.

Here are my favourite excerpts from everyday sexism – something I would push you all to read, something that everyone should read because it’s so important.

We mistake prejudice for being witty.

There is a common excuse that sexism isn’t a problem because ‘women can handle it’. Yes, some can, but the point is that they shouldn’t have to!

Rape is not a sexual act; it is not the result of a sudden, uncontrollable attraction to a woman in a skimpy dress. It is an act of power and violence.

The correlation between humourlessness and people trying to talk about sexism is strong in the public consciousness – since starting the Everyday Sexism Project I’ve become painfully aware of it. There’s an almost absurd lack of questioning on this subject: people who have known me for years have suddenly refused to tell jokes in front of me in case I’m ‘offended’; others have expressed sympathy with my boyfriend on the basis that he probably now has to ‘watch what he says’.

This idea of the humourless feminist is an incredibly potent and effective silencer. It is used to isolate and alienate young girls; to ridicule and dismiss older women, to force women in the workplace to ‘join in the joke’

Most people’s concept of what a leader is has been a male stereotype of somebody who is having power over rather than empowering people.

One frustrating consequence of women being underrepresented in politics is that often any woman is seen first and foremost to represent all women, as if she speaks and advocates for them, and can be judged as if all womankind stands or falls by her actions.

Each time a girl sees science toys under a ‘boys’ sign, she is told science is not suitable for her.

It’d be really fun if you saw a princess with baggy jeans on and a normal jumper and normal weight, but then people would say that’s not a princess.

The word, ‘banter’, has become central to a culture that encourages young men to revel in the objectification, sexual pursuit and ridicule of their female peers – it is a cloak of humour and irony that is used to excuse mainstream sexism and the normalisation and belittling of rape and intimate-partner violence. And it is incredibly effective, because – as we know – pretending that something is ‘just a joke’ is a powerful silencing tool, making those who stand up to it seem staid and isolated.

It is most striking of all that in a debate that revolves almost entirely around the concept of ‘humanity’ there is so very little humane thought given to women at all.

In the case of our trans sisters, who some feminists believe should be excluded from some areas of the movement by virtue of not fulfilling required ‘characteristics’ of womanhood – a deep irony for a group fighting for equality regardless of sex.

One of the main reasons inequalities exist is because we’re scared and one of the things we have to overcome is the fear of ‘what do I have to lose if someone is as equal as I am?’

It comes down to defence of privilege. A lot of it seems to stem from the feeling that something which is rightfully theirs is at risk of being snatched away – whether that is the right to see Page 3 or lads’ mags, the right to make rape jokes, the right to sexually proposition women or whatever.

We teach men that it is their job to be strong, and macho and masculine, that women should be treated as objects, and that putting girls down, or harassing them, or making sexist jokes, is a way for men to prove their manliness, particularly to one another.

I see it as my maternal duty to guard her against all of this. If it takes my last breath I will use it to tell her that she can be as great as she wants to be, that she should never accept less because she is female and that she is equal to any man that she ever meets. I will not allow her glorious nature to suffer because the world cannot accept that she is a girl and a woman.

All my love,

Chloe .xx

15 thoughts on “everyday sexism

  1. KalindiWritesToRant says:

    Oh God, I relate so much with every line here but that also frustrates me. Being ‘raging feminist’ is not something we enjoy it is such a constant and huge mental toll. I am just surprised why everyone isn’t raging lol how do everyday things not make you rage?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chloe Luna says:

      They do! But I have to remember that if I let every single thing get to me I’d constantly be angry because this is a constant thing that unfortunately doesn’t look like it’ll go away anytime soon, though of course progress is being made. You have to do what you can but you can’t let it ruin you .xx

      Like

  2. chloeburford says:

    Omg this is the best post I’ve read all week!!! You have written this so so well and I feel like we need to print this out and hand it around to men who still act like they are above women (aka my old boss who was the most sexist misogynistic man ever). I feel so passionate about the equality of genders so I am so so so grateful you shared this, I also need to get this book ASAP! Thanks for being the bold sassy queen we all need in our lives xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chloe Luna says:

      Ahh you are seriously a dream !! Thank you so much angel. So sorry to hear your boss was so sexist, at least you’re away from him now !! It’s even worse when in a work setting because it’s simultaneously an abuse of power too. If you do ever read Everyday Sexism I’d love to know what you think! xxx

      Like

  3. priya says:

    CHLOE YES!! Thank you so much, once again you put all the messy, jumbled up thoughts in my head into writing. Everything you said just hit the nail on the head with every topic you touched, and I think we’re rightfully allowed to be angry when we’re STILL discussing topics like this, as if they’re up for discussion in the first place.

    I’ve had some pretty shitty experiences with sexism, purely because of the environments I’ve find myself in throughout my life. I work in a male-dominated retail industry, so not only being a woman, but also people the only POC in the entire store means that 95% of the time, most people need to hear the exact same things I’ve just told them, coming out of a mans mouth before they take me seriously. I mean, I’ve been clicked at, to get my attention?? Add on to that the fact that men still hate comprehending that sometimes a young female can be more knowledgable than them on a particular subject, and most days I end up coming home from work with some sort of tale or story to tell my family.

    I’m also the only girl in a band with three guys, so as much as they are always trying to be open and not ignorant, there’s been plenty of times when I’m just not taken seriously, at all. There’ve been so many instances when one of the boys will be instructing a sound guy at a gig for us, and everything’s fine, but the second I have to do it, I’m second-guessed and belittled as if I haven’t spent three years getting a degree that is literally all about the music industry and ALL of it’s aspects.

    I’ve had my fair share of being called a ‘raging feminist’ as you mentioned it, and to be fair, at some point I just stopped caring, because in my mind it kinda highlights that they’re not actually listening to what I’m saying in the first place, most people are just upset at being called out xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Chloe Luna says:

      Love this comment so much !! Super grateful for you always sharing your amazing thoughts Priya. It’s seriously horrendous that as women we have to work 10x harder to receive the respect / recognition men automatically get given simply because of their sex. I’ve also been clicked at before when a man has been trying to get my attention and my response has always been I’m sorry? I’m not sure why you’re clicking at me as the last time I checked I wasn’t a dog.

      “Add on to that the fact that men still hate comprehending that sometimes a young female can be more knowledgable than them on a particular subject” oh men HATE this !! Definitely within the top 5 things that make men angry – a women DARING to even imagine that they know more on a subject than they do? Simply unthinkable. The whole charade just makes me laugh really, it seriously is pathetic.

      I too have stopped caring about what people (aka, men) think of me when it comes to this subject – if they want to think I’m a raging feminist who hates men then so be it – if you have that opinion of me and feminism as a whole then they’re most probably right because I probably do hate them considering they’re the types of people I cannot stand. Like you said, most of the time they’re not even listening anyway. I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over it! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hannah says:

    I completely agree with everything that you have written here and you have definitely phrased it a lot better than I ever could. The idea that someone could think that they are above someone else is absurd to me, especially an entire gender being better than another simply because they are of a different gender! I would love to be able to confront people like you do but as a shy, non-confrontational person, this is something that I will have to work on and just continue to insult them under my breath. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chloe Luna says:

      I used to be that way because I was scared of making a scene / causing a fuss / looking “sensitive” etc. but now I’m just at the stage where I could not care less, I deserve to be respected and treated equally and if people don’t understand that then they’re not people whose opinions I’d care about anyway. Thank you for reading Hannah xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. infinitelyadaydreamer says:

    Such an incredibly written piece Chloe. Very powerful and something I certainly resonate with. I liked what you said about the idea of a decent man. So many women I know tell me that I shouldn’t have expectations of anyone, certainly not guys, so as not to be disappointed by their actions. It’s a really harmful way to think, if you ask me. Society has disappointed women and degraded women so significantly that coming across a decent person does honestly feel like a miracle. Instead of being praised for going above and beyond, men get the tick of approval for doing the bare minimum, as you said. Not doing the wrong thing doesn’t necessarily make you the best person.

    A while back I was interested in this guy and asked for his number. We ended up hitting it off and saw a movie together. Throughout the whole date, he didn’t make any moves whatsoever and was super careful and just kept boundaries. I was, that day, really impressed with his actions. In reality that was something I should’ve expected from anyone I didn’t know well. Throughout the whole short time we knew each other he stayed this way. A little reserved but nice of course. I figured it was his religious Christian values. Upbringing. We ended up seeing a second movie with his group of friends and that went well. It was very casual, just a good time. I felt comfortable. He ignored me after that and later told me I reminded him of Gladys Beryjiklian, the NSW premier. It wasn’t a compliment and I was just like, “what the hell does that even mean?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chloe Luna says:

      Thank you for always sharing your thoughts because I love reading them so much – this was a brilliant comment and I agree with you 100%.

      ” In reality that was something I should’ve expected from anyone I didn’t know well.” yes !! It’s so obvious when we say it like that yet we’re made to feel like this is somehow a great form of kindness…the fact that someone decides to respect our boundaries. It’s insane. Also, what kind of comment even IS that ?? What does that even mean ?? You dodged a bullet there !! How strange .xx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 50shad3s0fjay says:

    Oh Chloe this is so wonderfully written, I LOVED reading this and think this is such an important message, one of which I am so grateful to you for sharing. I have so much love and respect for you, this is a brilliant powerful post and I am so pleased you wrote this, everything has been worded perfectly.

    I haven’t read ‘Everyday Sexism’ but you can bet I’m interested to read this book now. Thank you thank you thank you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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