Last Friday twenty-two year old Elliot Rodgers took to the streets of Isla Vista, California on a killing spree in order to ‘punish’ humanity for the ‘injustices’ he suffered. 6 people were killed and further 12 seriously injured. His first three victims were the three women he stabbed to death in his flat before taking to the streets. A mentally unstable, deeply misogynistic and inexplicably hateful young man, Rodgers posted his final video on Youtube the night before as well as writing a 140-page misogynist manifesto. His motives came from a deeply rooted hatred towards young women caused by his failure in sexual endeavors and he states in the video “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 quite disturbing to watch, especially because of Rodgers calm and complacent attitude during filming. As well as international media outcry against America’s gun laws (he had a proven history of violence and mental health issues and was still able to legally purchase the three guns used) there has been a viral Twitter movement acting out against the sense of entitlement that some men perpetuate.
#YesAllWomen was created with the intention of women sharing their stories of harassment, male entitlement and intimidating behavior generated towards them because of their gender. Women across the world shared their stories of being sexually assaulted, groped and generally treated like crap by men who expect them to just stand there and accept it. It is something that all women of all ages, races and sexual orientations have to deal with. Some have had it worse than others but we all feel a sense of weariness around men or when walking home at night because of these experiences. There was a real acknowledgement of rape culture and victim blaming too, which is really important in any discussion of this nature. A movement like this gets people who wouldn’t normally pay attention to feminism to get involved and put their hand up and say yes you’re right I have been a victim of everyday sexism. It is in no way claiming that all men are sexual predators.
The tag is not about men, it is about women and how they are treated by society but as you can expect, they received a huge backlash from angry men. It wasn’t long before a counter tag appeared on the trending list; #NotAllMen. Understandably, not all men are perpetrators of misogyny, but in a way they have completely missed the point. The tag was about women taking a stand together against a patriarchal society, against a society of men and women who perpetuate a number of damaging ideas about women. I had a reply to this tweet claiming that the hashtag is oppressive and offensive to men. I don’t see how a group of women speaking out against their abusers and society as a whole could possibly oppress a group that have never been oppressed before. I’ll also mention that he was a cis, white man. I was then informed that another hashtag #KillAllMen had come about, although I couldn’t see it anywhere in the trend list. This hashtag had clearly formed from a few jokes, extremist comments and a backlash towards it containing the tag.
What does it all mean?
What really drew my attention to this particular twitter movement was how nasty the backlash got and how quickly. It didn’t take long to find tweets mentioning the tag that were responded to with misogyny, only further proving the point being made by the tag. Rape threats are often made towards women on twitter and it wasn’t too long ago that two youths were jailed for it, but along with these were a lot of more subtle digs at feminism and women as a whole (because calling a feminist a ‘bitch’ is really going to make you seem like you’re in the right). But like the Everyday Sexism tag, I love seeing people get involved and discussing these issues in a public space that attracts media attention. I’m interested to see how and if much is reported about this online, and if there are any further consequences of the last few days.