Tag Archives: sexism

Using twitter to research sexism

Just stumbled across an interesting use of twitter – I’m not sure exactly what time it started but sometime today (the first tweets originate from 8 Hrs ago, so it must have started circa 12.00 GMT) @EverydaySexism (website here) facilitated a TWITTER CHAT on Street Harassment on the #ShoutingBack encouraging users to tweet their experiences of harassment.
This post lists some of the responses and then discusses methods
A selection of tweets on #shoutingback
Most responses relayed experiences on the street and in bars. Some of the most shocking/ retweeted include – (NB – These are in no particular order, my twitter analysis skills aren’t up to that!)

Abi OAbi O@ashke50at 15, with friends on train, group of boys blocking our path and asking if they “made us wet”.

EverydaySexismRT TheAfricanHippy Walking home in the afternoon.Drunk guy says: If I knew where you lived, I’d follow you home and rape you

Emma AmatoEmma Amato ‏@emmatronic – A van that blocks you while cycling so the driver can tell you he wants to be your saddle

Rachel BichenerRachel Bichener ‏@rachelwaxinglyr – chased by a bin lorry full of jeering men for a mile while on my bike, aged 18. Never rode again until 32.

chillerchiller ‏@chiller – If I wrote down all the assaults & verbal harassment experienced since age 12 I’d be here for a month.

ylhlhrylhlhr ‏@stopgrinning – complaining about street harassment or harassment in general, being told by others you should feel ‘flattered’.

Dancing MisanthropeDancing Misanthrope ‏@DaMisanthrope – People shocked by India rape reports as if it’s a foreign problem, check your own backyard

Roxanna BennettRoxanna Bennett@roxannabennett – Male friends told me it was disgusting I was breast feeding and that’s not what tits are for

Natasha ViannaNatasha Vianna ‏@NatashaVianna – Clubs are the worst! How many times have I felt stiff penis on my back while dancing? Too many.

Ellie ThomasEllie Thomas ‏@EleanorMThomas – Friend and I trying to take down tent at festival without bending over, due to shouts of “legs” and “boobs”

Tarah STarah S ‏@tarahfied –  going out to a club. guys decide to dance&touch w/o asking, get offended when you push them away or say no.


I also quite liked this response…

Hollaback Girl ‏@hollabackgrrrl – Man in bar repeatedly groped me, used homophobic/sexist slurs. I yelled at him the first 3 times. The fourth I broke his nose.

So what are the strengths and limitations of this as a method for finding out about street harassment? 


  • Firstly on a practical note  it’s very easy to set up, free, and accessible
  • Secondly, it’s hopefully empowering for the women using it – I like to think of women reading thinking ‘I’m not the only one’ – quite a few tweets with ‘solidarity’
  • Thirdly, on the concept of validity – it’s giving users the freedom to define sexual harrassment, useful for facilitating debate around the issue.
  • Fourthly, it’s giving us an idea of the range of experiences of sexual harassment – could be a useful basis for operationalising a questionnaire with a more representative sampling frame.
Now to the limitations
  • Firstly and most obviously, the sample will be biased in the extreme – limited to twitter users, and to users who follow @Everydaysexism and happen to be on twitter at the opportune moment, so this research is useless as a quantitative study.
  • Secondly, we always have to question the validity of what’s being said and it is very difficult to validate the truth of what these women are saying. I am not saying these women are lying, just that it is practically impossible to verify what they are saying.  Having said this, I personally wouldn’t have thought there is that much motivation to lie on twitter about such experiences given that ‘coming out with them’ is probably accompanied by negative emotions.
Find out More 

If you want to find out more about the extent of street harassment – then check out the collective action for safe spaces blog (U.S based)

This Guardian Article suggests 40% of women have experienced sexual harassment – based on a yougov poll

Hollaback – a depressing but useful site in which women in Birmingham share their experiences of harassment, has the potential to expand into more areas!


Match the sinister minister to the sexist comment game

Match the sexist comment to the conservative cabinet minister -all comments below made in the last month! Answers below, or in the links if you click them.
DC - prime minister
DC - prime minister
Ken Clarke - Lord Chancellor
Ken Clarke - Lord Chancellor
David Willets - University Minister - and kinda funny looking bloke
David Willets - University Minister - and kinda funny looking bloke

Very interesting double page spread in The Guardian this Saturday outlining how the coalition government has a poor track record on gender equality. Some of the key points include

  • Ken Clarke’s proposal that the CJS should  offer anonymity to alleged rapists and Ken Clarke implying that only violent rapes are serious
  • Women will be hit harder by the public sector job cuts compared to men – the number of unemployed women rose for the 10th consecutive month to 474000 last month – the highest figure in 15 years – although still half that of men.
  • The pay gap stands at 20% in the private sector and 12% in the public sector
  • Cuts to child care and social care benefits will cost women £30m, compared with just under £12m for men – given that they are more involved with these roles
  • Finally, there is evidence of a culture of sexism in Westminster – even though there are a record number of women in parliament – 143, only 4 out of the 23 cabinet members are women. The following made the comments mentioned above
  • Ken Clarke – implied only violent rapes were serious
  • David Willets – blamed Feminism for the lack of jobs for men
  • David Cameron told Angela Eagle to ‘Calm Down’

Ageism and sexism at the BBC

Michelle Moist - soon to be grinding farm machinery on Country File

The BBC swatted aside further accusations of ageism and sexism recently after 24 year-old ‘Michelle Moist’ star of adult channel Babestation,  was chosen to replace 53 year-old Countryfile presenter Miriam O’ Reilly.

BBC managers have insisted Moist was approached ‘purely for her deep appreciation of issues affecting the rural community’, and she is now to present the weekly  show in her own inimitable style, by rubbing her pelvic bone against a selected item of farm machinery each week while mouthing in detail the best way to take advantage of the Common Agricultural Policy.

But serisoulsy, two years after Miriam O’Reilly, now 53, was sacked from countryfile, she’s won an ageism case against the BBC.

Jan Moir in the Daily Mail suggests this ageism isn’t much of a problem, pointing out that it’s only in the sphere of presenting that women are discriminated against, while behind the scenes there are pleanty of older women working in senior positions in the BBC.  Moir’s point of view can, however be dismissed – a quick review of her articles reveal that she writes opinionated pieces based on unrepresentative samples.

Alan Yentob in The Guardian makes a similar point, but his opinion can be discounted because he is creative director for the BBC.

Personally I think both these people miss the point – the real problem with the BBC dismissing O’Reilly  is the sexism – not the Ageism  – given that there are plenty of older men working as presenters – and all her dismissal can do is to reinforce the idea that women should judge themselves by their youth and their looks, while for men this isn’t as important.