Initially created in response Elliot Rodgers brutal rampage #YesAllWomen has taken on a life of its own. Rodgers made it very clear clear in his 141 page essay and in his youtube video that his actions were not his fault. Women were to blame because they refused to accept his sexual advantages.’ How dare they say no.
It’s almost comical that from misogynistic hatred of one very troubled young man a movement has sprung that has the potential to do so much good for women’s rights.
Some people might think that #YesAllWomen is just another twitter trend on a par with #selfie or #KeepingItReal. But It’s so much more than just a trend.
Statistically 80% of a rapes or sexually assaults on women go unreported. Of those that are, very few lead to conviction.Because women are made to feel guilty. That their rape is their own fault, because of what they were wearing or because they had a glass of wine. But in participating in #YesAllWomen, in sharing just one instance of when you felt threatened and uncomfortable by unwanted sexual advances, women are slowly gaining confidence that will change these statistics. In standing up on a Global Internet platform and saying no. No, I didn’t want it. No that wasn’t okay for you to do that, or say that, or touch me like that. In highlighting all those little episodes that occur far to often, that make you feel uncomfortable, that you shrug off as something that as a woman you just have to deal with is paving the way to so much more.
#YesAllWomen is Change. In highlighting those little things for the first time those things can not be dismissed out of hand, Not when there are thousands upon thousands of women who are saying the same thing.
No we are not overreacting, nor are we imagining things and it is most certainly not a compliment.
Countless times I’ve been harassed in the street. Had abuse hurled at me by strange men. Been followed, been grabbed and bruised by strangers who will not accept that I’m not interested. I’ve been pushed into the corner of a club, pinned there by someone twice my size to be told ‘you know you want it’ as they try put a hand down my top or up my skirt, terrified, because as much as you push, as much as you struggle in those few moments you are very very aware that you can do nothing. Because it’s a well known fact that a short skirt is open invitation, and if you can see a hint of cleavage the girl may as well be saying ‘Come at me Baby’.
Nope. Pull the other one next time, It has bells on.
I’ve been lucky. Someone has always noticed, friends or strangers, someone has intervened but that isn’t the case for everyone.
In giving voice to the experience, beyond the momentary half muttered ‘creep’, that experience is not dismissed and forgotten. The more people talk about something, the more it is acceptable for that thing to talked about. And if we can talk about those little things, we can talk about the big ones.
Women can go to the police, they can report an assault without shame, confident in the knowledge that because of #YesAllWomen they know it was not something they did, it was something that was done to them. That is why #YesAllWomen is so much more than just a hashtag.