Wednesday 17 October 2018

Mary Kenny: Everyday sexism?

Is 'street harassment' a hazard for women - or an exaggerated threat?

Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny, writer and author. Photo: Tony Gavin
Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

Laura Bates's Everyday Sexism Project is a mission to document the varieties of sexism to which women are subjected in many countries. She's had an enormous response online and the book she wrote about the humiliations endured by respondents makes for depressing reading. Her reports on 'street harassment' alone make you wonder if the Victorians weren't right in providing chaperones for young ladies.

Just last year, according to Laura Bates, "41pc of young women in London experienced sexual harassment in public spaces". She cites some of these accounts in her book, Everyday Sexism. "There isn't a day where I don't get shouted at, followed or stared down. It's like a disease." "The sad fact is that now I just expect to be harassed or followed on my way home from a night out." "My 14-year-old gets cat-called and whistled at so often, she thinks it's just part of life."

"I was flashed twice on my route home; I was groped between my legs at a club and had a man masturbate [in front of me] in broad daylight. I was walking home from a grief counselling session." "I am only just a teenager and it's horrifying, especially when it involves grown men honking at me… I dress appropriately, but even in my school uniform it happens. It's utterly embarassing and makes me fearful of things such as rape."

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