If the actions of the UC Santa Barbara shooter last week turned the Internet into a crime scene, then the Web is also where we turn to grieve and try to process something that is truly incomprehensible and horrifying.
Since news of the murders broke, #YesAllWomen has remained one of the top trending topics on Twitter. Originally created by Twitter user gildedspine in reaction to the Not All Men meme, #YesAllWomen has given people of both genders a forum to reflect on how misogyny impacts their lives.
#yesallwomen because I really shouldn’t have to carry my keys in between my knuckles while walking home from the bus stop.
— Nadia (@ieatdumplings) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen when a 16 year old girl was raped and assaulted by 2 boys, the media pitied the “bright young boys” and their “ruined future”
— (@nialljameshoran) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because, as a man, I have never been harassed on the street, but my female friends are harassed on a daily basis.
— Justin Dennis (@JustinDennis4) May 26, 2014
because i bet every woman reading through the #YesAllWomen tweets finds more than one that hits a little too close to home.
— maya livio (@mayalivio) May 26, 2014
In response to #YesAllWomen, other Twitter users created #YesAllPeople, which sparked a debate about whether or not the new hashtag trivializes violence against women.
— Aella (@Aella_Girl) May 26, 2014
— Valerie (@ValerieGauvain) May 26, 2014
Though I can see the appeal of #YesAllPeople, I side with the users who say that the hashtag #YesAllWomen is needed. When we live in a culture that dehumanizes one half of its population because of their gender, it diminishes us all. The stories shared through #YesAllWomen show us that misogyny is not just a problem for women, but for everyone.
One of the reasons I feel so strongly about this is because #YesAllWomen brought up several memories for me which I had tucked away in the back of my mind. At the time these things happened, I was hurt, but now I feel sad for everyone involved.
When I was a young girl, I directed my anger at the boys who bullied me and at my mother’s friend for saying something stupid. But what had these boys, who were just 8 and 14 years old, endured as they were growing up to think it was okay to call their classmate a slut or threaten her with genital mutilation? What problems were they channeling into their sexism? My mother’s friend was an intelligent and hard-working woman, but what did it say about her own sense of self-worth that she believed a pair of eyeglasses brought down my market value when I was still years away from being old enough to date?
If we don’t acknowledge the role sexism and violence against women played in Elliot Rodger’s twisted thinking—a mistake many news outlets made in their initial reporting on the crime—it means any reflection we do about the tragedy is in vain.
#YesAllWomen does not exclude men or blame them. It highlights problems that are endemic to our society, not an aberration. By sharing our stories, perhaps we can also find a solution.
Photo by Flickr user Allen Skyy used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license