#YesAllWomen: A Much-Needed Dialogue

By Dane Laborn

At the University Of California, Santa Barbara, on Friday, May 23, a 22-year-old young man named Elliot Rodger opened fire on innocents, killing six and wounding thirteen. Before he did this, he sent a manifesto to his parents, having also outlined his plans in several YouTube videos, where he is quick to assign blame to women. They never kissed him, never slept with him, always went for the “assholes” instead of him (referring to himself as a nice, polite guy) and how he would have his “retribution,” that he would “make all women pay.” Watching the video, hearing the cold collectedness of his words, it chills you to the bone. Rodger decided that if anyone “deserves it the most,” it was the campus’ hottest sorority, and it was there he let loose his madness, killing and injuring both men and women in the process. People have said that the fact he killed men, more men actually than women, defeats his misogynistic manifesto, but it doesn’t. It shows misogyny can hurt you regardless of your gender.

Shockingly though, out of all this darkness, something good may actually come.

Hashtags are an unfortunate part of our reality now. However, sometimes they can be useful, used for a purpose beyond the continued decline of the English language. When they are used for a cause, hashtags have a way of taking over everything, and the Sunday after all the shootings and misogyny, one popped up that did just that. #YesAllWomen is currently (as of Memorial Day) trending on Twitter and Facebook, allowing people from all over the world to open a dialogue on the state of equality in our nation and our world. Made as something of a response to the #NotAllMen page on twitter, where men go to get angry at feminism. Choice tweets such as “#NotAllMen are rapists” may be true, but #YesAllWomen have been taught to watch their drinks, be wary of guys, never walk home alone, and so on and so forth and on and on.

As a man, going through and reading the #YesAllWomen twitter page raises the feels in a big way, just not the ones I’m used to. I have never in my life felt such a profound and complete sense of shame of my gender. Ashamed of the way a lot of us act, ashamed of those of us who aren’t that way are perceived, ashamed that there is even a need for a movement such as this in the year 2014. I was raised by a single mother, who had her own traumas and tragedies, about which she was always open and honest with me. She ensured that I personally would never turn out in any way misogynist, but not everyone had that. The stories these women, though it is by no means only women who are using the hashtag, are profoundly troubling, and very open. For the first time in memory, millions of women are telling their stories, and the similarities are as shocking as they are sad. Below are a few of the tweets that stood out to me. I’ve removed the usernames, but the content is the same.

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them – Magaret Atwood #yesallwomen

Because my Mom was raped, repeatedly, and treated like an object of personal gratification from the ages of 8-12, and when she told someone she was told to shut her filthy mouth. #YesAllWomen

I can run at night. I can explore cities in any country. I can get drunk and take a cab. I dress however I want. #YesAllWomen can’t.

Because I shouldn’t have to feel “lucky” that I haven’t been assaulted. #YesAllWomen

#yesallwomen because what we wear or how much we drink should never make sexual assault excusable

Fellow men: when reading these tweets, don’t take them personally. This is an amazing chance to learn about everyday sexism. #YesAllWomen

#YesAllWomen because every time I try to say that I want gender equality I have to explain that I don’t hate men.

Because we still don’t have equal pay in the workplaces, because women have to guard their drinks, because night time equals danger, because of a myriad of reasons, each one more awful than the last, because of that ALL, #YesAllWomen.

As with all hashtags, #YesAllWomen is online, facebook and Twitter both have it trending, as well as news sites collecting some of the demonstrative tweets into one article. This movement needed to happen, and it needed to happen sooner. Something’s got a change, and for once, we actually have the power to instigate it. We just can’t quit.

Rodger killed these people, and blamed it on women because he felt he was owed in his life. Never been kissed, never had sex, girls wouldn’t look at him or treat him with respect, all of which he felt like he was owed. There’s a myriad of things aside from crazy that could make him feel this way, men everywhere somehow feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to the women in their lives, be they mothers, wives or girlfriends. We’ve invented the phrase “friend zone” to trivialize a woman’s right to not have feelings for a guy; something that’s become a running joke is in it’s essence a dehumanizing thing. After all, that’s what we all are. Black, white, Asian, red, brown, male, female, gay, straight, Christian, Islamic or Jewish, inside, we are all bone and meat, and it’s beyond time we started treating each other with that all encompassing level of equality.

Because #YesAllWomen.

Categories: Commentary