In 2012, writer and activist Laura Bates founded her groundbreaking website The Everyday Sexism Project with the distinct purpose of providing a place where women from all walks of life could share and relate their daily experiences with normalised sexism and misogyny.
The project has been an enormous success and a viral phenomenon with the resultant book, “Everyday Sexism,” becoming a best seller and an instant classic of modern feminism.
Inspired by Bates’ emotionally powerful project and my own life long observations of the behaviour of my fellow males, I have compiled my own list of twelve of the most common sexist and misogynistic transgressions and micro-aggressions frequently committed by men that I believe we as men need to cease doing immediately.
I believe all the behaviour that I list to be wrong and malevolent not only because is it sexist or misogynistic or both but because of the other reasons I give as well.
Here is my list:
1. Men need to stop grabbing, pinching, groping, hugging, touching or brushing up against women without their permission in the workplace or other public places. Regardless of what men have been conditioned to believe – they are NOT entitled to women’s bodies, and it is not OK to do any of these things without her consent. Ever.
2. Men need to stop using the words sweetheart, sweetie, baby, baby doll, etc. when referring to a woman that they are not romantically involved with. It is insulting and implies that you are either infantilising or objectifying her, neither of which is good.
3. Men need to stop body shaming and/or age shaming women from all walks of life because they don’t fit neatly into theirs or society’s preconceived notions of what beauty is or what a woman should look like.
4. Men need to stop assuming that a woman dresses to gain their approval. How a woman dresses is her own business and while, of course, everyone wants to look good, dressing to please the men in this world is, by and large, not the driving force for a woman’s wardrobe choices.
5. Men need to stop harassing women online and stop using the anonymity that the internet provides as a cover to cowardly communicate all sorts of hateful, vile and threatening things that they wouldn’t dare say to a woman’s face in the blaring light of the real world. Enough said.
6. Men need to stop telling women to smile. Contrary to what men have been taught to believe, women don’t “owe” men anything – not even this.
7. Men need to stop making and telling rape jokes. They are cruel, insensitive and ultimately help to perpetuate the rape culture that we men have created and that still exists in this country and the world in general.
8. Men need to stop blaming and/or shaming a woman if she is a victim of sexual assault or abuse. To do so is to victimise her twice.
9. Men need to stop calling a woman bossy, bitchy or saying she must be “PMSing” when she expresses her opinion or displays emotions. It runs counter to the indomitable truth that, like every other human being on this earth, she is entitled to do both of these things.
10. Men need to stop verbally assaulting women with catcalling and speech laced with sexual innuendos. By continuing to practice this foul and unpleasant habit, they are weaponising their words with the sheer destructive intent of demeaning and devaluing all women.
11. Men need to stop ignoring the word “No” when it comes to their amorous or sexual advances toward women. If they hear it and continue to proceed with their advances without her consent, they are committing criminal and / or legally actionable misbehaviour in the eyes of the law.
12. Men need to stop believing that they have the right to define and pass judgment upon a woman’s sexuality and/or her sexual habits. To continue to do so is to violating a woman’s autonomy to express herself sexually as she pleases – an autonomy that she possesses by simply being alive.
I would like to warmly invite all of my female readers of this piece to not only share it with the men in their lives but to also to use the comment section below to further the conversation by adding to my list all of the sexist and misogynistic things that they would like to see us men stop doing.
The battle against sexism and misogyny is; person to person, house to house, school to school, office to office, boardroom to boardroom, workplace to workplace, public space to public space, and computer to computer fight that we all need to be involved in, I would like to offer this piece as one of my small contributions to that fight.