The Everyday Sexism Project endeavors to use social media to document women’s daily experiences and encounters with sexism. As stated on its Web site, the project’s mission statement is, “TO TAKE A STEP TOWARDS GENDER EQUALITY, BY PROVING WRONG THOSE WHO TELL WOMEN THAT THEY CAN’T COMPLAIN BECAUSE WE ARE EQUAL. TO PROVOKE RESPONSES SO NUMEROUS AND WIDE-RANGING THAT THE PROBLEM BECOMES IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE.” Although the founders of the project are based in London, social media outlets like email and Twitter facilitate the discussion across the globe.
One of the project’s latest campaigns includes tweeting using the hashtag “#followed” during occurrences when a woman feels that a man is getting too close for comfort or is literally pursuing her. Here are a few examples of #followed tweets:
“Being #followed by two males who thought a dress & face full of makeup meant I was ‘a good time girl’ @EverydaySexism”
“@EverydaySexism I’ve traveled a lot for years & have been #followed 4 separate times to my hotel room. Twice the police had to be called.”
“Ignored a man’s ‘hello’ on the street, #followed me yelling it over and over till I responded.”
It’s upsetting to learn that women and girls all over the world despite age, geography, ethnicity, etc. endure this type of harassment. When I was fifteen-years-old, I remember walking home from school as a man in a truck slowed down next to me and kept asking me for my name. After I ignored him for a while, he drove off only to circle the block, pull up next to me again, and continue interrogating me about why I wouldn’t talk to him. I could never walk down that street without worrying that the man would show up again. It’s distressing to know some men believe this sort of disturbing and aggravating behavior is acceptable.
On the other end of the spectrum, plenty of decent men have absolutely no idea that women have to tolerate these creepy antics all the time. It’s an unfortunate reality that women go through on a day-to-day basis. Here are tweets from men regarding the #followed hashtag:
“The #followed tweets are a real eye-opener. I had no idea that it happened so often & that there were so many creeps out there. Frightening.”
“I feel so bad for the women who’ve endured all this abuse. The stories from the #followed is heart wrenching. What’s wrong with some people.”
It may be a stretch to believe that a few hundred tweets will change the world, but the aim of the project is to empower women to stand up and resist the notion that this is just how things are. By sharing their stories, women can prove how prevalent sexism is and spread awareness to those oblivious to this problem.