Laura Bates is the woman behind the Everyday Sexism project – a website which started as a repository of experiences of sexism and now has hundreds of thousands of posts. Her new book, Girl Up, builds on the campaigning Bates' did based for Everyday Sexism, including going into schools and talking to young people about these issues. Her findings, covered in the book, include that girls as young 7 have gender-stereotyped ideas of future careers, that teenagers of both sexes have a warped view of sex based on internet porn and that the 'guidance' kids are given is woefully inadequate.
Girl Up was intended to be an antidote to this vacuum of appropriate advice. It contains empowering ideas – such as what to do if someone texts you an unwanted sexual image ('I think I just had a boregasm!'). In person, Bates was impressively articulate and well-informed – she must be a world expert on the persistent, but often hidden, sexism that still exists in our society.
I was also struck by how brave she must need to be to take on the sexist haters – one audience member asked her how she coped when she felt isolated by her stance against sexism. She confessed that without the support of the feminist network online, she wouldn't have been able to deal with a lot of what she's been through. An interesting insight into our modern world – very often the worst problems and the finest solutions are to be found in the same place – in this case, communities online.