You have probably seen the hashtag #YesAllWomen pop up in one or all of your social media feeds recently? Perhaps you have even participated?
A quick take for those that haven’t – The hashtag stemmed from the murders in Santa Barbara earlier this week by a 22 year old man, allegedly with mental health issues, and openly motivated by sexual hatred. 6 people died and 13 were injured. In a self-recorded video prior to the killings he communicated why his plan was necessary. His day of retribution was to blame women for the failures in his own life. It has been reported as an act of violent hate fuelled by mental instability.
Apart from providing a forum for people to share their sadness and confusion over the incident, the hashtag organically gained momentum and provided a space for women (and men) to share their voice, their experience, and their outrage on the issue of misogyny.
Experiences of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sexual fear have been shared across the world for days.
It has come in many forms and at varying degrees of pain, but the important fact to note is that it was in its millions.
There has (of course) been a counterattack that the hashtag is not relevant to the killings. People are suggesting it’s completely off-kilter given the man’s mental health state. Further backlash gained momentum identifying that it’s somehow promoting the suggestion that all men are potentially dangerous. Along with the usual suspects – a stream of posts suggesting the hashtag has been crafted by feminists to yet again stir the pot of man vs woman…. Because feminists don’t have anything better to do with their time than not shave their armpits and be angry.
But I ask – Does it really matter where the hashtag has been born from or why?
No. I don’t think it does.
I think any opportunity for people to share their pain – regardless of the catalyst is a good thing. To reach out, to feel less alone is a really good thing. And to generate some greater awareness too is bloody awesome.
As writer and social commentator Jane Caro said today: ”Silence protects perpetrators & shames victims”. And that is why opportunities like these are really important to grab and utilise as a way to talk about what’s really happening, ask questions, and move towards a better place of living.
At the end of the day, what matters is that #YesAllWomen has sparked something – an idea, empathy, a community of voices with a similar experience or feeling about the sad reality of how we currently exist in society. And that it sucks.
How is the movement going to change anything? Well, unfortunately it’s unlikely going to stop an increase in attacks on women in the future (There’s been two more attacks on female joggers in just this past week alone – and you can read about my own experience here).
So, the hashtag might be yesterdays news (even by the time I click publish on this post), but it might be a step closer to some sort of freedom that women seek and deserve?
And if anything, it does seem to be helping many women realise they are not alone in feeling that they hate living like this.
And that’s got to be worth something right?
What do you think?