Embarrassing sexism out of existence

It’s time for another feminism post. It seems that since my last stab at solving equality, basically NO ONE LISTENED, so I’m going in for another pop. Fingers crossed this time, I’m getting kind of tired of having to keep bringing this up.

Sexism exists. I know, I know. I’d literally rather sick up a chip than have to repeat that sentence, but there we have it. It’s like a really pungent fart on a train. No one wants to point out that they’re suffocating from it, we’re much too polite for that, and the fella that’s done it can’t even smell it- and even if he could, he’d be more outraged that you dared to call it out than accept any fault.

So, maybe it’s because I’ve been reading lots of Caitlin Moran lately, or maybe it’s because my best friend was told to “ask your dad” when questioning a cowboy plumber’s work, or perhaps it’s because there’s so much in the news right now on gang rape, rape apologists and victim blaming. Whatever the bubbling inspiration for this is, I’ve decided I want women to start calling out sexism. Routinely. Every time it happens. If you can’t beat them, beat it out of them (not literally, please.)

Calling out sexism is actually quite good fun. You feel a rush of self-respect, and are kind of satisfied that you’ve managed to embarrass someone for being a douche. Par example:

A few nights ago, I joined some friends on a night out. Wearing thick black tights and a leather skirt was apparently enough of a come on for a complete stranger, who decided he’d have a quick feel of my arse as I tried to get past him.

I genuinely cannot understand why people do that. Are you checking it if it’s ripe, or something? We’re not in the fruit aisle of Tesco, bro, you don’t get to have a feel a la Try Before You Buy. Anyway. Whatever his motivations were, I’m not particularly game for a good round of casual sexual assault in a nightclub, so I politely asked him if there was anything in particular he thought he stood to gain by groping a passing woman.

He was mortified. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me, his friend looked awkward and turned away, and he certainly didn’t give me a satisfactory answer. Hmm? Was there something you wanted to say, treacle? You’ve got my undivided attention. I don’t know if he’ll do it again, but I’m willing to bet if he was confronted that way every time he copped a feel, he’d get the message.

There’s an amazing ongoing campaign called the Everyday Sexism Project. (Their website & their twitter are well worth a read). In practice, it’s this huge database of women’s experiences of sexism. If every single one of those instances, some of them casual, some of them harrowing, and most of them relatable, were called out, then we might be half way to putting sexism to bed.

I’m not in anyway suggesting sexism is in any way women’s responsibility, or that men are naturally, stupidly sexist and we need to carefully train them out of it. It’d just be brilliant if we could sit around, having cocktails or sleepovers or whatever girls do, and laugh about the time we called out sexism, rather than sharing embarrassing and often uncomfortable anecdotes of it.

So, next time you see sexism happening, or are at the brunt of it, tell that person to piss off. Next time someone asks how you think you’ll bring up children and have a career, or when they suggest you’ll be too busy buying shoes to care about important stuff, or when they grope you in a club, call them out. We can embarrass it so much that the ground really does open up and swallow it whole.

Farrah Kelly


  1. you criticise victim blaming and rape apologism but in the same paragraph you mention caitlin moran as an inspiration for this blog, who is a horrendous example of ‘feminist’ victim blaming and rape apologist: http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2012/12/how_to_be_a_vic
    calling out sexism is a great idea, but caitlin moran is not someone to turn to when looking for tips on how to be a good feminist.

    • I almost didn’t mention Moran because I knew it’d result in a debate about how to be a “good feminist”. I’m not interested in who’s more feminist than who, I’m interested in calling out sexism, and in How To Be A Woman, one of the first things she talks about is calling out sexism. So that’s an apt enough inspiration for me.

      I could write a whole stream of blogs on feminism in-fighting, and this is a pretty prime example. Sorry that you feel like this, I know there are a lot of mixed opinions on Moran’s ‘brand’ of feminism, but I personally find her pretty inspiring. Hope you enjoy my other posts anyway x

  2. Love this! I was out in glorious Huddersfield the other night and several of my friends kept getting groped by the same guy. He was clearly quite drunk but we weren’t there to ruin anyone’s night by getting them kicked out so instead my friends asked the DJ to make a shout out telling him to behave basically. The DJ responded that ‘it wasn’t his vibe’

    So next time he smacked my arse and took claim to my private parts I kicked him in his. We didn’t see him for the rest of the night…

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