Politics & Society Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates | Book Review Roundup | The Omnivore

Published on April 30th, 2014


Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates

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Blurb: Are you #ShoutingBack? After experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called ‘everyday sexism’ to raise the profile of these previously untold stories. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought. Enough was enough. From being harassed and wolf-whistled at on the street, to discrimination in the workplace and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had become normalised. Bates decided it was time for women to lead a real change. Bold, jaunty but always intelligent, everyday sexism is a protest against inequality that provides a unique window into the vibrant movement sparked by this juggernaut of stories – often shocking, sometimes amusing and always poignant. With an Introduction by Sarah Brown, this book is a manifesto for change; a ground breaking, anecdotal examination of sexism in modern day society. Welcome to the fourth wave of feminism.

(Simon & Schuster, 2014)

Zoe Williams, The Guardian 

“…a well-ordered and often astonishing book… Bates has created something new: neither journalism nor polemic, the book owes its gusto to a combination of the hundreds of voices in it, and the fact that the author presents them, not as a statistical sample, weighted for age and class, not as a type, not as her friends, but as credible, compelling voices.”

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Arifa Akbar, The Independent 

“What is clear, and shocking in Bates’s book is that despite the gains, a sustained and gross inequality exists across cultures. She is particularly effective in undercutting the smugness of the West on this score… Her movement can be similarly charged with appealing only to the middle-classes (women need to be literate and rich enough to have internet technology to take part). Even so, it carries the democracy of social media – a call-centre worker in India or Europe or Canada is given an equal voice to that of a barrister, for example.”

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Rosamund Urwin, London Evening Standard 

“Bigotry can’t be destroyed in a day, nor by a single book — but this one at least shines a spotlight on it. I would love to see this in women’s hands on the Tube — but I’d enjoy even more seeing it read by men, so more of them start to understand the experiences of their female friends.”

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Eleanor Mills, The Sunday Times 

“This is a passionate tome. Bates, a young journalist before all this began, writes a decent sentence and the posts are so forceful that they tell the story for her… Her thesis is that small acts of sexism matter because they groom women for the bad stuff… To begin with I wasn’t sure about that. But the book — and [its posts] — are cumulatively powerful.”

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David Aaronovitch, The Times 

“If you weren’t aware of the Everyday Sexism social media campaign then you may well find this book — which adds little to it — fascinating and horribly familiar. If you’re a man you may even feel a little ashamed.”

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Eithne Farry, The Express 

Everyday Sexism is a laudable achievement but not flawless. The combination of quantifiable evidence, less quantifiable statistics and the unrelenting nature of the subject matter can be disorientating and overwhelming. However it is a book that is bound to get people talking, and that can only be a good thing.”

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Rachel Cooke, The Observer 

“The site is a wonderful idea, and I wish there’d been something similar around when I was younger and less able to stand up for myself. About the book I’m less certain. There are two problems. The first is that it is so pitifully unrigorous, relying as it does almost entirely on statistics whose methodology we never get to discover, and on tweets and stories from the site. The second is that it includes no plan. It’s all very well to collate these stories, to build a picture of a world in which women are at best not taken seriously and at worst abused. But the question is: what are we to do about it? … Everyday Sexism (the book) is a wasted opportunity: little more than another repository for anger and frustration.”

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Germaine Greer, New Statesman 

“Enough. Enough. Simply coughing up outrage into a blog will get us nowhere… A woman who is insulted should be prepared to talk loud and draw a crowd, to kick ass and take names; she should also be supported by the women around her. Unpacking your heart with bitter words to an anonymous blog is no substitute for action.”

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