#YesAllWomen

Women on Twitter finally seem to have snapped. It happened about 24 hours ago, after a spoiled, deranged, entitled college student in Santa Barbara decided to go on a shooting spree because he couldn’t find a woman willing to have sex with him. He killed six people.

In the wake of the shootings, I expected there to be yet another battle between gun fanatics and those who favor gun control. I did not except to find a Facebook page titled “Help Elliot Rodger’s ghost get laid.” Nor did I expect to see tweets claiming, “I blame girls, not guns” and others blaming women for the fact that a rich, privileged man went on a shooting rampage in which he specifically targeted women.

If this sounds like an overly simplistic version of what happened, these are some of his direct quotes from videos and manifestos he produced in the days and weeks leading up to the shootings:

“I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male. Yes, after I have annihilated every single girl in the sorority house I’ll take to the streets of Isla Vista and slay every single person I see there.”

“Life is so unfair because girls don’t want me.”

“This world is so twisted. It’s so cruel. And you girls make it cruel. And you girls have starved me of sex, and enjoyment and pleasure for my entire youth. You’ve taken eight years away from my life. Eight years I will never get back. Do you know how much misery you’ve caused me?”

So let’s talk privilege. Male privilege, specifically. Besides the fact that this is a kid who has likely never held a job in his entire life driving around Santa Barbara in a BMW like he owns the entire city, why does he think women owe him anything–and especially their bodies?

You can argue that he’s just mentally ill, pure and simple, but how does that explain the men who have come out in his defense since the massacre, the men who have blamed women for the fact that a man killed women?

Novelist Margaret Atwood wrote, “Men are afraid that men will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” A writer buddy of mine first told me that quote at a bar a couple days ago–a handful of days before the shooting. That quote is now trending on Twitter under the YesAllWomen hashtag that fed up women are using to air their fury, their terror, their rage.

They’re being called bitches, sluts, feminazis, and dykes for their outpouring of indignation and grief. But that’s not terribly different from the way we’re treated on a daily basis, so they’re not letting that stop them.

In case you somehow didn’t know what it’s like to be a woman in this so-called liberated, free and equal society, this is a taste of what they have to say (almost all of which I have witnessed and/or experienced myself on multiple occasions):

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This is a pretty small sampling of the hundreds of thousands of Tweets that now exist under this hashtag. Some are angry. Some are just plain heartbreaking. Of course, there are a few men using the hashtag to try to bait women, talking about large breasts and women making them sandwiches. It doesn’t seem to be having much of an impact because most of us live our lives navigating comments about our breasts and jokes about getting in the kitchen and making someone a sandwich on a near daily basis.

And it’s exhausting.

It is exhausting rolling my eyes every time we get a “Dear Sirs” email at work–which happens on a weekly basis–because a woman couldn’t possibly be in a position of importance in a newsroom.

It is exhausting calculating how much more money a man in the same field will make over the course of his lifetime simply because he was born with different hardware.

It is exhausting clutching my keys tightly in my fist when I’m alone walking through a parking lot, and wondering if I’ll actually be able to stab someone with those keys if they decide to attack me.

It is exhausting knowing that if I go out dancing with my friends, men will feel it is their right to start grinding against me without talking to me or asking my permission. It is exhausting that when I tell them to go away, they’ll act sullen and angry and demand to know why I went dancing in the first place if I didn’t want some stranger grinding against me.

It was exhausting being called a dyke in high school because I chose to join the football team.

It is exhausting thinking about how many of my friends have been physically and sexually assaulted.

It is exhausting knowing that every single one of them was judged by a society that demanded to know what she was wearing, whether she had been drinking, and whether she had been, in some fashion, “asking for it.”

It is exhausting having to correct the men (who don’t even know me) who call me “sweetheart” or “honey,” some of them over the phone after calling the paper where I work.

It is exhausting being called selfish and unnatural because I am a woman who does not happen to want to have kids.

It is exhausting watching young girls get told to cover up because young men “can’t control themselves.” Restricting what women wear has long been a tool of oppression and control and it needs to stop, including in schools.

It is exhausting that people respond to any kind of conversation about the way we as a society treat women by rolling their eyes, insisting you are hysterical and that it’s somehow all in your head.

It is exhausting knowing that I am only 30 years old and have a long way to go in this messed up society of ours.

But it’s also liberating to know that there are other women out there who feel and experience the same humiliation, the same fear, the same victim blaming. So before you decide that the #YesAllWomen is nothing but white noise, go on Twitter and read what they have to say and think about it. Really think about.

 

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Comments

  1. That hashtag is amazing. It’s heartening to see all the male allies as well, along with the men that still don’t get it complaining. I added my own too: “Because so many women I know personally have been raped I had to pause for an exact figure (6)” #YesAllWomen

  2. I would simply say that ‘we shouldn’t want equality or dignity or protest when we are subjected to objectification by men because men find that undesirable in a woman’ ; I call that bulls**t. We are all equal and deserve everything that we want. Our dreams and desires are and shouldn’t be subjected to what men want.

  3. Reblogged this on O Pie-oneers! and commented:
    Ashley articulates this much better than I would.

  4. It is SO exhausting! It’s a setup, a struggle of visibility. Society demands that women be seen in its context, until it wants them invisible again…

  5. #YesAllWomen must vote! And find a person (of any gender) who doesn’t typically vote… and get that person registered and bring that person with you on Election Day. You know: so you can #VoteTwice! Gotta change this world. And so many of us men are with you!!

  6. Kaylin O'Gorman says:

    I think fundamentalist religions of all types are to blame for the majority of these issues.

    • I agree. I think religion has done a lot to subjugate women all across the globe, and it’s still an issue pretty much everywhere, including the United States. That’s actually the primary reason I stopped being a Christian in high school; I strongly disagreed with what religion had to say concerning women. It’s just a difficult conversation to have because as much as people get defensive about guns, they’re even more protective of their religion.

  7. Kevin O'Gorman says:

    It would be lovely to live in a rational world, but that is not what evolution has bequeathed us. I don’t mean to excuse anything, just to understand it. It will take a long time to change our species, but we all can work to change our laws, our leadership and our culture and have results much faster in those arenas. So absolutely #YesAllWomen must vote! And us men too.

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