As we continue to process the events of last Friday, in which 22-year-old Elliot Rodgers went on an anti-woman shooting spree he deemed "the Day of Retribution" in order to punish those women who rebuffed him, one hashtag has been proliferating immensely on Twitter. With "#YesAllWomen," many Twitter have been sharing their experiences as women in a culture where they do not feel safe. Some have shared personal experiences while others have pointed to broader social patterns and behaviors. But they all address head-on the dangers of being a woman in our culture—the type of dangers that just became more tangible with the actions of Elliot Rodger. The tweets are just as sobering as they are empowering:
#YesAllWomen because when we're offended at something we are told we are 'too sensitive' & 'it was a joke' rather than given an apology
— baeth (@postirl) May 25, 2014
Because every single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body. Every. Single. One. #YesAllWomen
— Emily (@emilyhughes) May 24, 2014
Girls grow up knowing that it's safer to give a fake phone number than to turn a guy down. #yesallwomen
— Kate Tuttle (@katekilla) May 24, 2014
#yesallwomen because when someone writes threats about us online, Twitter says it is 'not abuse', not a warning sign, not even unusual
— Leigh Alexander (@leighalexander) May 25, 2014
In college, a police officer told us to scream FIRE if we were in danger of being assaulted otherwise people won't get involved #YesAllWomen
— Carrie K. (@OneBookishMom) May 24, 2014
#YesAllWomen Because Robin Thicke is applauded while Miley Cyrus is censored and ridiculed.
— Felice Fawn (@felicefawn) May 25, 2014
Because when I receive sexual harassment and even death threats online, I'm told it's my fault. #YesAllWomen
— Meg Turney (@megturney) May 25, 2014
When senseless tragedies like this happen, we try to look for something bigger, a pattern or a profile to which we can attach such devastation. And the trail of evidence and motivation left in Rodger's wake, the Youtube videos, the online posts, and the 141-page manifesto give us some semblance of that. Rodger's manifesto reveals that he resented men for having sex and falling in love with women just as much as he resented women for rebuffing him. But the focus of his rage and blame always remained on women, which apparently made his indignation reasonable.
While the ramblings of a disturbed young man intent on purifying the world, ridding it of sex and love by eradicating women and putting them into concentration camps is clearly beyond delusional, his rhetoric and general view of entitlement to women is engendered by the same anti-women notions that houses the men's rights movement. We are told not to give attention to the ideology of a deranged killer, but what are we supposed to do when that ideology is as widespread as misogyny?
The power of misogyny that fuels MRAs partially lies in its 'subtlety,' the fact that there hasn't been such a high-profile attack that is categorically rooted in an anti-woman sentiment since maybe the École Polytechnique Massacre in Montreal in 1989, in which a 25-year-old man killed 14 women in a crusade against feminism and the feminists he felt were ruining his life. And even, the extremity of these attacks have permitted 'everyday misogyny' to continue—after all, it's not like an 'everyday misogynist' killed or even hurt anyone, only the mentally ill or criminal ones. Being able to distance a movement from the actions of a mentally disturbed person still allows for the space for ideas like "retribution" to fester.
But now with trends like the #YesAllWomen hashtag, we are uprooting everyday sexism, the ideas that perpetuate systematic marginalization, outright violence towards women, rape culture, and demonization of women who deign to stand up for themselves, forcing it out and showing just how pervasive and destructive it is.
Image via Getty.