Out April 5, 2016

Everyday Sexism - Laura Bates

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley


                Recently,  a friend posted an article to her Facebook.   The article was about how daughters devote more time to caring for parents as opposed to sons.   My comment on her post was how was this news.  Because, who is supposed by that finding?  Outliers aside, most daughters already knew the truth of that statement.   In many ways, this is what the book is about.


                If you haven’t heard about the Everyday Sexism project, then you  need to get your head out of the sand.  Bates started the project for women to vent, list, report,about the sexism in everyday life.   The cases range from the truly horrifying – a woman being told by her parents that she asked for what happened to her – to the depressing everyday – catcalls when  going to work.  The ideas allow for women to know that they are not alone, to educate, and in regards to some stories provide hope or even solutions.


                Bates’ book draws on some of the posts of the project  but also contains reveling and recent statistics to add more perspective on the stated stories as well as her thoughts on harm and potential ways to deal with such issues.   She also does address some of the claims made by various Men’s Rights Movements and addresses how sexism affects men, in particular how society views them as fathers and as fathers rights.   This chapter is especially timely considering the rise in stay at home fathers or fathers providing childcare, who face criticism from both men and women.


                The book itself is divided into various realms, with sections on work, politics, and media among others.   Each chapter opens with a list of statistics, primary recent, all cited (if perhaps a little US and UK heavy) followed by some personal accounts, and then with analysis.  The weakest chapter is the one about media, and this is mostly because of the work done by others.  And considering that media is the most easily accessible, it really doesn’t have to go into depth.  The best chapters include the work and politics, mostly because Bates links certain budget policies (cuts, really) to sexism, pointing out that some policies  effect women more than men.   The section about work is also compelling because it deals with pregnancy and children in terms of both men and women (in particular, pointing out that paternity leave is nil in many cases).


                Bates connection of sexism and how it affects men is particularly well done, and in fact, is targeting such sexism despite the claims of Men’s Rights Movement to do so.  She not only shows how the direct effects of presuming all women feel such and such away about children, but also how such a view presumes that fatherhood is nothing and that too is damaging. 

                While at times I found myself wishing there was some more connection or acknowledgement of other feminist work (for instance, there is mention of a banner reading “well-behaved women seldom make history” but no mention of Thacther herself), the book itself is immensely readable and thought provoking.