#YesAllWomen became a worldwideTwitter hashtag sensation after it gained momentum on several popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Tumblr. The hashtag became turned into of the biggest online discussions to erupt on the internet, causing many online feminists to defend and argue why the tag was symbolic for many women around the world. #YesAllWomen drew attention to the very touchy subject of sexualized violence towards all women through different levels of misogyny and sexualized violence, such as rape and abuse. The hashtag was created by a young woman by the name of ‘Kaye’ after the Isla Vista, Calif. killing spree played out by Elliot Rodger on May 23rd that killed six people and injured 13. Rodger put up a video on YouTube the night before the attack explaining his plans and why he was going to do what he did:
“College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I’ve had to rot in loneliness. It’s not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It’s an injustice, a crime, because… I don’t know what you don’t see in me. I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.”
Rodger’s comment towards the female victims being punished for rejecting him, stoked the embers of a long awaiting online discussion on violence against women. Whether or not the actions of Rodgers was rooted in misogyny, it started the ongoing Twitter conversation that had thousands of women around the world agreeing and men responding with the hashtag #NotAllMen. Not all men kill women over being rejected, but it lead to the point that yes, all women have experienced discrimination and different forms of harassment at some point in their lives and live in fear of the men who do, which is why over half a million people on twitter tweeted back Kaya with the hashtag #YesAllWomen.
Some popular #YesAllWomen tweets were:
“Girls grow up learning it’s safer to give a fake number than to turn a guy down.#YesAllWomen” @katekilla
“Because this society teaches girls how to not get raped instead of teaching our boys not to rape. #YesAllWomen” @mollyhannahm
“#YesAllWomen because when a girl is harassed or even groped by a stranger in public, we’re told to ‘take it as a compliment’” @bottrill
Every woman in the world can relate to a time where she hasn’t felt safe. How can you feel safe in a world where you’ve been raised to not walk in the dark, to ignore the leers and catcalls from the men in the streets, to carry your keys in your hand as a weapon when walking anywhere, to wear concealing clothes in order not to provoke those men?
All of these things have been normalized and brushed aside in media and popular culture making it ok for everyone to promote these “safety rules” for women. This normalization has also made it ok for these type of men to continue doing what they do because it is expected of them. The killing spree in Isla Vista opened up an avenue to continue talking online about the different injustices that have plagued women for centuries. Although it may not connect completely with the misogyny that the hashtag #YesAllWomen has been associated with, it raises a flag that brings awareness to the fact that women should not have to live in fear.
#YesAllWomen has become an symbolic American movement that has connected all women around the world together for the same reason. Although the world has changed, and continues changing, the struggle against and for feminism is still alive and will continue to be something that will be fought against for awhile with the same goal to make everyone realize that a woman should not have to live in fear of being a woman, no matter the circumstance.
– by Carolina Campero ’14