Laura Bates at Hay Festival 2014 by Clara

I am a feminist. Whoops. The number of people who would be undeniably and/or unashamedly put off by that statement is a testament to how depressingly internalised sexism is in our society, and indeed throughout the world. Unless, of course, people are outwardly misogynistic, which happens (surprisingly or unsurprisingly) all too often.
Laura Bates’ book, ‘Everyday Sexism’, is full of accounts (many from girls, a handful from boys) of people’s experiences of sexism. And it’s not just apparent in the young or uneducated: one account is that of a Cambridge University student who was asked by a don on her first day if she had to ‘bend over’ to get in.
But the talk, like the book, was not only an explanation of how (and to some extent why) this harassment (and assault) takes place, but also tackled how to combat and counteract this, and even educate people out of the normalised, implicitly sexist culture that, in my opinion, stems from the patriarchy.
Bates may not be the first to have the idea of making relationship education (including the idea of clear lessons on what consent is) a compulsory government initiative, but she certainly seems to be the first to voice this on such a public platform. Could that have an effect? Maybe, if she gets enough people behind her.
Though her talk and book are real eye openers to all the nastiness that seems to have been ignored, it’s heartening to walk into a tent full of people who are there to listen and to learn. It’s nothing short of emotional when a young boy gets up to talk of his experiences with watching sexism at his own school and what he’s done to try to stop it. It’s something quite incredible to hear about the tens of thousands of girls that have shared their experiences. Maybe, just maybe, something can be done. And there’s nowhere to go but up.

By Clara.
Clara is 15 and enjoys Homer, but is an unabashed fan of Harry Potter.

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