Thursday, May 29, 2014


#YesAllWomen as a Strong Contribution to Feminist Efforts

The #YesAllWomen hashtag has sparked a huge movement on Twitter to recognize and discuss women's experiences of misogyny, including sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. Sparked by the comments and actions of 22 year-old Elliot Rodger, the gunman who killed six people in Santa Barbara on May 23rd, the hashtag has come to represent an ongoing effort to show our patriarchal society that yes, all women experience varying degrees of harassment and sometimes domestic violence, assault, and rape. Rodger was undoubtedly a misogynist who felt he deserved the love and sex of women just for being a man. Since he did not receive such, he believed that women were lesser beings who must be destroyed. Moreover, the men they did choose to be with should be destroyed too. In his 141 page manifesto, he explains that he will “punish” all the girls who are not attracted to him, and he will “take great pleasure in slaughtering” them. He also wrote, "Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilised men of intelligence." His comments reflect his extremely misogynistic attitude. While Rodger is an extreme case, he is representative of the society we live in that denies women the right to make their own choices and continues to ignore their everyday struggles. He is one more example of a prevalent rape culture within our country that “tolerates, trivializes, excuses, or even promotes rape” (Tufts ASAP).  
    The #YesAllWomen hashtag is a way for women to speak out about their experiences and to raise awareness about the female experience. While some men were surprised by the hashtag, confused by its prevalence on Twitter, or even hateful towards people using it, it has mostly received a strong, positive reaction. A main theme throughout the tweets is that while not all men are as extreme as Rodger, all women experience the negative effects that come from a society that disempowers women. Politicians and celebrities have been using the hashtag as well as thousands of others:

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    The hashtag also necessities a discussion about race and how the experience of women of different races greatly differs. Some women of color have been using the hashtag #YesALLWhiteWomen in order to show that white women do not have the same experiences or share the same stereotypes as WOC. However, when white women use #YesALLWhiteWomen, some WOC react negatively because they see this as white women utilizing their privilege to speak for a marginalized minority. In order to effectively discuss the womens issues, it is critical to understand how white women benefit from this white privilege and how their feminist narrative may be different from WOC, who cannot and should not be represented by white voices. It is also necessary to recognize the ways in which racism has existed in the history of feminism. Intersectionality must be recognized as an extremely important part of feminism and activism:

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    While it is certain that the #YesAllWomen hashtag will continue to thrive, there must be continued, united efforts from both women and men to combat misogyny within the country and around the world. This hashtag is a great step in a long process that will hopefully make tangible change in society.

Further readings: