Sexism OK that boys will be boys, or “lad culture”?

Laura Bates started the Everyday Sexism Project online in the UK in 2012 because,


In this ‘liberal’, ‘modern’ age, to complain about everyday sexism or suggest that you are unhappy about the way in which women are portrayed and perceived renders you likely to be labeled ‘uptight’, ‘prudish’, a ‘militant feminist’, or a ‘bra burner’. The Everyday Sexism project aims to take a step towards gender equality, by proving wrong those who tell women that they can’t complain because we are equal. It is a place to record stories of sexism faced on a daily basis, by ordinary women, in ordinary places. To show that sexism exists in abundance in the UK workplace and that it is very far from being a problem we no longer need to discuss. . . .


A year later Bates was surprised by 25,000 entries from 15 countries, about 1,000 entries posted each week, enough to assemble in a book.[i] She explained that the goal was not to solve sexism but to take the first step of realizing it exists. Bates was also surprised by some of the hate male she received; a reviewer on accused her of being a whiny woman. She was encouraged by women who wrote about fighting back, like the jogger who made T-shirts saying “honk if you love feminism.” The success of her project indicates Second Wave consciousness-raising has to be done all over again.

A similar effort on Twitter started with a  #YesAllWomen hashtag. “Let’s discuss what ‘not all men’ might do, but women must fear. Kaye M.” This was in response to a misogynist mass shooting by a student in Santa Barbara, California in May 2014, to punish the women who rejected him as he stated on video posted before his death. It was a reference to “not all men” meme saying that not all men are violent. At its peak, 51,000 tweets an hour named the harassment, threats, and abuse that women face from men who are socialized to that that’s boys being boys, or what’s called “lad culture” in the UK.


[i] Laura Bates. Everyday Sexism. Simon & Schuster, 2014.

Kat Banyard. The Equality Illusion. Faber & Faber. 2010.

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