IT is difficult to pin down the most shocking aspect of the Everyday Sexism project: the sheer number of stories recorded, the serious nature of many incidents which amount to sexual assault, or the fact many women feel harassment and discrimination is just something they have to put up with, whether in a public place, at work or at university.
One of the motives that prompted founder Laura Bates to set up the blog was that when she tried to discuss incidents of sexism, she found some people – men and women – refused to acknowledge it could still exist in today's apparently enlightened society. But with more than 25,000 examples collected in just one year and the project now rapidly spreading to other countries, it's hard to deny there is still a problem.
One of the most disturbing themes of these stories is that when it comes to tackling sexual harassment, many people are inclined to look the other way. In one example, a pupil recounted a classroom debate on whether women should be allowed on the front line in war, many boys used the argument that women were "just inferior to men". It was an ideal opportunity to stamp out that view in the next generation – but was passed unchallenged by the male teacher.
Great strides have been made in equality, with a raft of legislation aimed at preventing gender discrimination. But trying to tackle the "hidden" problem of 21st century sexism is not easy. The initiative by NUS Scotland and Scottish Women's Aid, training students to challenge such attitudes among their peers, has to be applauded. It is not up to women to become "less sensitive" or "lighten up" when they are abused in the street or groped in a bar. Instead, we need men need to speak out against sexism.
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