A British feminist activist gathers together stories from women worldwide about gender-based denigration suffered in both private and public spheres.
When Bates realized just how many “little pinpricks” of sexist intrusion— which included everything from male leering to outright physical assault—she had to deal with every day, she finally fully understood the deeply rooted nature of gender inequality. In this book, she shares her experiences alongside those of women who have written on Bates’ website about everything from “the niggling and normalized to the outrageously offensive and violent.” As she sees it, the main issue at stake is that “sexism is often an invisible problem.” Moreover, society forces women into silent compliance through various forms of abuse. Stories from young girls and adolescents, for example, reveal how they are still faced with the difficult and unfair task of reconciling pressures to be sexually available with those that condemn the expression of female sexuality. As adults, young women just out of college, who routinely face sexual harassment on the job, earn on average just 82 percent of what men do. And those holding elected office are still in the minority worldwide and are themselves often the targets of belittlement due to their gender. Bates suggests that the media, a social apparatus that “is controlled by men, for men,” plays an especially invidious role in the creation and perpetuation of damaging messages about female identity. Furthermore, those who do not fit the desirable image of femininity—whether because of age, race, class, or sexual preference—face even greater discrimination. The points the author makes about the struggles girls and women face worldwide are not new, but Bates’ digital activism and the passion behind her project to “force people to recognize that [sexism] is real” are forces to be reckoned with.
A potent reminder of how far feminism has come and how far it has to go.