7 Nov 2014
Laura Bates, recipient of an “OII Internet and Society Award”, discusses the origins of the Everyday Sexism project, its intended audience, and the early difficulties she faced when talking about the problem of the normalisation of sexism and getting people to acknowledge its existence. She discusses the irony that the Internet can be used both as a medium to enable people to join together to promote positive social change, but also to intimidate women (eg through trolling). She discusses what we can do to control trolling and sexual harassment, such as social media companies putting the safety of the user at the centre of their policies; government making sure that people are prosecuted for illegal behaviours such as making death threats (even when it ‘only’ takes place online); what we can do individually to speak out against unacceptable behaviour; and the important role of education in schools at a young age to combat the normalisation of sexism and violence against women. She finishes by discussing the future of the everyday sexism project; whether the tide is turning (she notes a massive increase in men writing in to say they didn’t realise the scale of the problem, and women writing to say they didn’t realise they could speak out..), or whether there will be as great a need for the project in ten years’ time as now.