There is a project called Everyday Sexism. It was started by a journalist on twitter. It describes itself as
Documenting experiences of sexism,harassment and assault to show how bad the problem is & create solidarity.
I know of it through twitter (there account is @everydaysexism and the hashtag is #EverydaySexism) but they also have a website. It’s had quite a lot of attention online and in the media and a lot of people are participating in it. The tweets on the hashtag are an interesting mix between the harrowing, the role your eyes and nod your head in frustrated recognition and a nice smattering of friendly support and community in a way that only twitter can do. In short it feels like a brilliant project. It’s not one I’ve participated in. I have, as a woman, obviously experienced some sexism in my life. But it feels to me as though ableism is a much bigger problem for me. Because the comments I get about “needing someone to take care of me” don’t relate to my gender but to my wheels. Apparently my wheels are a more of a target for abuse and hate than the fact I own a pair of boobs.
Just in the last week I was asked by someone who knows me and my Dad where my dad was and when I said “he didn’t give me a lift this week” they demanded to know who was looking after me. Now they could have said “how come he didn’t bring you this week?” because he often does give me a lift or “oh so how did you get here?” but know I, obviously, needed to have someone looking after me and they had to know who it was. I’ve got both boobs and wheels I’m clearly helpless. Actually screw it as a wheelie the fact I’ve got boobs is probably irrelevant. I replied “I’m looking after myself. If you meant who gave me a lift then so and so did but she’s gone off to something else” They didn’t seem to know how to respond.
A couple of weeks ago I was in a book shop and I spotted that there is now an Everyday Sexism book. And that’s amazing. The project deserves to be shared and a book like that can only help impact and bring change and share the project even further. That needs to be celebrated. And although I’ve not read the book, it’s one I’m very keen to.
There are several spin offs from the everyday sexism project. One I’m following is Everyday Ableism (@everydayableism and #everydayableism). Again a good project and good discussions. But not so much support from the press and hype about it. Or at least not that I’ve heard.
I’m glad that my “ism” if you will – ableism – is getting more attention and talked about more. I’m glad that it’s being thought and that things are improving. But as I sat in Foyles looking at Everyday Sexism the book I couldn’t help but get a little sad. Because no one’s going to take Everyday Ableism that seriously. It’s not as important or as equal.
But it’s just as bloody painful.