#YesAllWomen Provide Rude Awakening and Hopeful Response

This post originally appeared on June 2, 2014 written by Aisha Springer.

The #YesAllWomen hashtag started trending worldwide after Twitter user (who wishes that her information not be shared anymore) purveyed the tweet on May 24th in response to the Isla Vista shooter who killed six people and himself and recorded a video vowing revenge on women who had rejected him.

Read more from Gina Denny about the meaning of #YesAllWomen HERE.

Women in the US and around the world reacted not with shock, but with nods of familiarity to the misogynistic language and motivations. They shared their experiences of harassment and violence inflicted by men who felt entitled to their bodies, and many men tweeted with surprise or disbelief that sexism was this widespread or deadly.

The scale and speed with which #YesAllWomen spread – 451K tweets in just the first 24 hours and over two million tweets total – highlights the reality that misogyny is alive and well and all women have experienced some form of this in their lives.

Because "I have a boyfriend" is more effective than "no", due to the fact that they respect another mans claim over us #YesAllWomen

— Dannella Muñoz (@MunozDannella) May 28, 2014

#YesAllWomen inspired thoughtful articles on platforms such as SlateThe Daily Beast, and The Guardian and has now spun off into #AllMenCan. It’s encouraging to see men proudly express enlightened views and show that men can be a part of the solution rather than ignoring and perpetuating the problem.

#AllMenCan be masculine without misogyny, chivalrous without demeaning, and feminists without fear. Equality benefits us all.

— Benjamin Curtis (@Clearcoat_Ben) May 29, 2014

This is a refreshing dialogue in a culture where it’s not unusual to be met with fervent defense of patriarchal views. These attitudes permeate daily life to such an extent that they don’t actually register as abnormal. Misogyny may pop up within a close relationship, a one-time interaction with a stranger, or a soundbite on the news.

Not too long ago, a friend told me about his uncle’s pattern of “hitting on” women at every family get-together. Using that seemingly harmless phrase, he explained how his uncle requested a one-night stand, which was apparently the tamest of the comments. He told the story with a chuckle, surely expecting a similar response that I didn’t deliver. He went on to say that the daughter of the harassed woman told his uncle to, “get, get” like he was a dog. According to him, that was disrespectful.

In one brief anecdote, this man unwittingly summed up male privilege and entitlement. Men have the privilege of not having to consider how it feels for the target of their harassment because the victim is usually a woman. Women are made to believe or simply accept that this is a normal part of male-female interactions and we have no legitimate reason to object.

When you consider this mindset, it’s no wonder that some men become offended or even violent when women deny their advances. Resistance is a challenge to their sense of entitlement. Women are called “bitchy”, “rude”, “uptight” or “angry black woman”; a desperate but sadly effective attempt to reclaim power.

The UCSB shooting is an extreme reminder that men from all walks of life and all levels of mental stability can be deeply influenced by misogynistic culture – and its consequences can be fatal. If we want to raise the standards for what it means to be a man, it’s vital that men do their part. Making excuses should be seen as a belief in a child-like inability to exercise self-control and good judgment and an insult to all men.

#AllMenCan provides hope that men can do better, but only if we stop making excuses for those who believe women owe them attention simply because of their gender.

So proud of all the men who participated in #AllMenCanhttp://t.co/gwhq3eLPAgpic.twitter.com/YJ9O9Ho3Ue

— Elizabeth Plank (@feministabulous) May 29, 2014