Audiobook Review: Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

Publisher: Audible Studios
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: June 3rd, 2014

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Gathering together statistics, analysis and personal stories, from many different women, Laura Bates puts together a powerful call for change. Covering every aspect of society – and acknowledging her own privilege and perspective – Bates highlights why there needs to be a change.

This book came out of online spaces – @EverydaySexism on Twitter and the website, where both women and men shared their stories. A lot of people will find themselves nodding along, remembering their own experiences, and cheering when Bates highlights stories of people pushing back. She talks about politicians (on all sides), celebrities, and other high-profile women, while also using this platform to talk about the ‘every day’ occurrences.

If you’ve been paying attention for the last few years, you’ll recognise a lot of the ‘hot topics’ Bates discusses that made or have since made headline news. Critiques of female politicians, focusing on their appearance and dress rather than policies, breastfeeding in public and at work, constant street harassment to the point where it feels normal, all while using examples submitted to the website.

Bates makes it clear these issues effect ALL women, and she dedicates time to touching on racism and transphobia as well, while acknowledging she isn’t going more in-depth into these topics because she isn’t the person to talk about them. But she does discuss where these issues intersect, and does so (to my ears, anyway) in a good way.

If you consider yourself an ally to women, I would urge you to pick this up. I cannot stress this enough: I have never read a book that resonated so strongly with me and my own personal experiences. From the sexist jokes we’ve all heard, to the experiences of street harassment, to sexual assault, stalking, domestic abuse, the list goes on.

Almost every chapter had me thinking of my own experiences. It’s not always the easiest thing to read a book like this, but it is important. Being reminded of trying to walk home from my ex’s at university, fairly late, down a long, crowded street with takeaways and bars, only to have a man catcall me from across the street then crossing the road towards me (stopped, thankfully, by his own friends). Working in my first Saturday job, having a man ask for a children’s magazine (on the lower shelves), then when I apologised for not being able to find it and suggesting I could order it in, “That’s okay. Sorry for making you get down on your hands and knees.” Me, at age 16, “Oh, it’s okay, no problem.” Then, “Bet you’re used to it, with all your boyfriends.” Followed by him laughing, turning, and walking out of the shop, and me feeling suddenly dirty, and uncomfortable, and wanting to just cry but thinking, am I overreacting? (I was the only one on the floor, but a minute later my fantastic colleague arrived, asked if I was okay, and ushered me out into the back when I explained – she understood. Unfortunately). Working my first full time job, for a marketing company, and when I asked why were they interested, as part of my usual questions, their answer made me feel exactly as that man in the shop did: to see your tits.

A man groping my arse in the middle of a packed pub at Christmas, after he had repeatedly told me to “smile, love” and “why aren’t you having a good time”. I was having a good time, until he refused to leave me and my friend alone. These are normal experiences women go through every single day. This isn’t even getting into the darker stuff, or more intimate, more personal stuff, the experiences with work colleagues at work. This stuff sticks to you like pollen, and we get so used to the hay fever we barely even notice it anymore.

Released in 2014, this isn’t a new book. Yet it is infuriately still relevant, still resonates, because stuff hasn’t really changed. Our rights are under threat. The rights of all women and many others are constantly held up, stricken down, used as bargaining chips or debate topics, as if we’re little more than pieces of paper to be waved in the air.

What I’m trying to say is, this book is excellent, and Laura’s wit and sarcasm make it actually entertaining in parts, if incredibly depressing at others. There is good in here too, there are moments to relish, but I would urge you to pick this up, whether you want to be reminded you are not alone, you are seen, or if you consider yourself an ally.

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