Last Friday night, while most of us were settling in for the Memorial Day long weekend, a young man in California stabbed three young men to death in his apartment, before driving through the streets of Santa Barbara and shooting another three people to death before taking his own life. Another 13 people were injured in the shooting. It later emerged that the alleged killer, Elliot Rodger, had a long history of posting misogynistic rants online, and that he had fantasized about enacting revenge on the women he believed had scorned him his whole life. In a manifesto that emerged online after the killings, Rodger detailed the loneliness he felt from being unable to attract women, and the hatred he felt towards women and the men who were able to obtain sex from them.
This story took the Internet by storm, with many commentators weighing in on the issues of misogyny, violence against women, and how the two are so closely interconnected. This prompted a resurgence of the Not All Men argument that has become a common rebuttal to feminist discussions. What this is meant to capture is that Not All Men are misogynistic monsters hell bent on violence. True. This argument surfaced in a Twitter conversation between writer, Annie Cardi, and another woman who has since made her settings private, with Cardi making the point that while Not All Men are misogynists, all women are victims of misogyny. It was here that the hashtag #YesAllWomen was born.
As of this morning, #YesAllWomen has been used over 1.5 million times on Twitter, and it has been a trending topic for several days now. As of this writing, tweets are still pouring in from women who are sharing their experiences and frustrations with the deeply ingrained misogyny that exists in every culture in the world, and it is heartbreaking to read their stories and know that we still have so far to go before we achieve true gender equality. While feminist activism on Twitter is nothing new, #YesAllWomen has gone mainstream, and more importantly, has drawn men into the conversation in positive and constructive ways. This is important because simply put, the Not All Men argument needs to go. Of course not all men are violent people, and of course the majority of men are wonderful human beings to whom the idea of violently attacking another person is a repulsive thought. We all know this because we all know wonderful men like this, and therefore the constant reminders can stop. We get it. The fact of the matter is that not all men commit violence against women, but some men do. Enough men do that one in three women will be victims of violence in their lifetime, and that’s enough to make EVERY women live in fear of violence EVERY day. So let’s keep #YesAllWomen going, let’s keep talking about this issue, and let’s all strive for the day that #YesAllWomen and #YesAllMen can say they don’t live in fear.
Guest post by Laura Moore