The U.K-based Everyday Sexism project asked their twitter followers to come up with their personal accounts of facing sexual harassment and violence they faced under the hashtag #When I was. The twitter page of this project says that the documenting is done to highlight the widespread cases of sexism occurring and the impact of the problem. The magnitude of this seemingly hushed up problem is substantial enough to make other people aware of it and unite on one platform as a single voice against such incidents.
Everyday Sexism was founded by Laura Bates in 2012, a feminist writer who wanted to create a platform where people feel safe enough and confident enough to come forward and share their ordeal with others.
The reason behind using the #when I was hashtag was to make people aware of how early in their life women may start to face sexism, sexual abuse bordering on physical and mental trauma and discrimination.
The twitter followers responded greatly and there were shocking incidents where the individual reporting these incidents of sexism and harassment were as young as eight years old at the time of the incident. People of different backgrounds and ethnicities, from all ages and different professions shared their experiences.
Some shared of incidents like being cat called at as young an age as 9 years old and ten years old. Others told about hearing sexual comment from family friends at a young age about their dress code.
These incidents really make one wonder if there is any way to control this problem. Although in this manner the problem is atleast being highlighted to others. This would give the victims a sense of being united and prevent them from feeling that they are alone in this. There is a certain healing in the fact that there are others who are also voicing their ordeals openly and clearly.
Bates explained that even the smallest incident of sexism should not be ignored and must be shared as much as possible. She said that this silence is what makes the perpetrators of this crime brave enough to take even bolder steps. If these issues are highlighted at earlier age and there is awareness made common in the people might create a conducive environment to check such behavior. Considering these incidents as insignificant and brushing them under the rug will only make the problem to aggravate into something more sinister.
It is important to bring such issues to media attention instead of labeling them as taboo and hushing the victim up. Such incidents have a domino effect and the perpetrators who are only cat calling today might be brave enough to take more extreme steps in the future.
Scrolling through these hashtags one thing is certain: women of every age have faced sexism and sexual harassment in one form or another at some point in their life. What is even more disturbing is that most of these incidents happened to women at a very young age.