By Emma McGowan
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to Twitter since the Elliot Rodger's shooting rampage at UC Santa Barbara on Friday to share stories about every day misogyny and gender-based violence; cultural values that contributed to the shooter’s belief that the women who refused him sexually deserved to die. Under the hashtag #YesAllWomen, you’ll find stories of harassment, rape, and discrimination, stories that are horrifying in their magnitude and depressingly familiar.
The #YesAllWomen hashtag mirrors #NotAllMen, which became popular in some circles as a sort of counterpoint to feminists speaking out against misogyny and the patriarchy. Usually used as a defense, #NotAllMen is seen by one side as a reminder that “not all men are like that” (i.e. misogynists/rapists/harassers) and by the other as yet another example of men displaying their privilege by interrupting and redirecting the conversation about women’s rights. You can probably guess what side I come down on.
While reports of exactly where the #YesAllWomen hashtag originated are unclear (Mashable says it was writer Anne Cardi while other blogs list other originators), it is now undeniably linked with the UCSB tragedy. After Rodger's videos and misogynist, hate-filled 147-page “manifesto” went public on Saturday and his self-declared motivations became clear, the hashtag grew from a few mentions to over 61,500 tweets on May 25, according to Topsy.
While there are obviously still detractors shouting “BUT NOT ALL MEN ARE LIKE THAT!” and thereby proving that they are, in fact, just like that, one of the greatest things about the #YesAllWomen hashtag is how much both men and women are clearly paying attention to it. The blogosphere has exploded over the past couple of days with post after post about misogyny and gender violence and the hashtag even jumped into print journalism when the NY Daily News featured it on its cover.
Ultimately, scrolling through tweet after tweet of women’s personal horror stories makes it hard to deny that while, sure, #NotAllMen are like that, #YesAllWomen have to deal with emotional, physical, or psychological violence every day. It’s beyond unfortunate that it took the horrific actions of a sick young man to swing the national conversation toward this serious cultural affliction – but now that we’re here? Let’s talk.
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