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Writing Blog

Why I Give A Damn About #YesAllWomen

Roderick Campbell

by Janne Robinson

The women’s movement has really just begun. In this wave, I would say—you know—from what we can see from history, movements do seem to have to last about a century before they really fully absorb by a culture, or many cultures, and we are maybe 40 years into this one, so I think for all the great social justice movements, which are all connected, of course anyway. We probably have quite a ways to go, and we might need other waves in the future, before finally people are regarded as unique individuals, rather than groups.” ~ Gloria Steinem

What is #YesAllWomen?

An outcry from the women of our world.

An outcry of repressed, unheard and denied voices speaking up about assault, rape, nonconsensual sex, harassment, sexual objectification, inequality, sexism and misogyny.

A much needed women’s movement on our planet.

“Me toos” have taken over, as the cry of anger gets stronger and louder. I can feel it vibrating from my screen, and pulsing in my veins as I scroll through the words of thousands of women and men adding their voices to the fight.

Women all over the world are empowering one another to stand in the light and take a stand after Elliot Rodger’s “War on Women” that killed six people and wounded 13 on May 23, 2014.

Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old man living in Isla Vista, California resented the women who turned him down in the past, “starved him of sex” and “kept him a virgin,” and the “men who they chose to sleep with instead of him.”

He spoke freely of his hatred for women between his disturbing 22 YouTube videos and 141 page misogynistic manifesto. He uploaded a video onto YouTube the night before his attack titled, “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution,” where he spoke of attacking the very girls who represented everything he hated in the female gender—the hottest sorority of UCSB.

He believed that, “Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with. That choice should be made for them by civilized men of intelligence.”

He also proposed concentration camps for women, with only a select few allowed to survive for reproduction.

On the night of May 23, after emailing his 107,000 word manifesto, “My Twisted World: The Story of Elliot Rodger,” and killing three men in his apartment, Rodger drove to the Alpha Phi Sorority house and opened fire on women and men.

On May 24, the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen was created as an outlet for women to share their experiences surrounding sexism and misogyny. The hashtag spread like wildfire through the social media world, reaching 1.5 million tweets and 1.2 billion impressions, and peaking at 61,500 tweets per hour on May 25.

In my first five minutes of research online I came across a tweet that read:

Jenna Glatzer (@GhostwriterJG) May 31, 2014:
#yesallwomen because a man on the train stood behind me and began pressing himself into me and everyone pretended not to see.

I clicked “expand” on the post and read comments from several men. As I read, a slow, hoarse, momma-grizz growl escaped my lips for the women of this earth.

Mick hucknell ‏(@MHucknell) May 31:
@GhostwriterJG You are aware that trains have seats so these things can’t happen right?

Andy ‏@AndyMiIIigan May 31:
@GhostwriterJG Hahahahahaha.

Matthew Adams ‏@BeefcakeAvatar May 31:
@GhostwriterJG It wasn’t my fault, it was a bumpy ride.

Fatoush Hakbarah ‏@hakbarah May 31:
@GhostwriterJG u look like a man

Señor Suerte ‏@NotTheBot Jun 1:
@GhostwriterJG I would have watched the whole thing and probably touched myself later.

 ~

I am a woman.

I don’t identify as being a feminist.

I do identify as being an activist, and an advocate for human rights.

I have walked down a public street in broad day light with a friend of mine in a dress and had a man grab her crotch.

I have crowd surfed and had men touch my breasts and legs.

I do get my keys out of my purse and ready when I must walk to my car in the dark. I walk quickly, and I look behind me.

I once had a male friend, who I trusted, grab my boob and laugh when I angrily reacted in a public place, and none of the men surrounding spoke up for me.

I have had men in Indonesia surround me, leering, photographing and video taping me, despite my verbal objections and physical attempts to lose them on a ferry. I have had those very same men physically grab me and try and put me in a “taxi” that was a van.

I wear long pants and sleeves while leaving an airport so as to not call attention to myself, my body and the fact that I travel alone as a woman.

I have gone through phases of my life where my closet is full of men’s clothing and I have denied my divine femininity, because I wished to dodge unwanted sexual objectification of my body.

I once had a man follow me walking on a beach in Greece, jacking off in broad daylight as he watched me. When I went looking for support, I was met by three groups of people—male and female—who after hearing me explain furiously, my cheeks wet from tears, shrugged, laughed and told me, “so?”

I get more male attention for my legs than I do for my brilliant brain and red, beating heart.

I’ve had a general manager of a Joey Tomatoes in Sherwood Park tell me I needed to put some energy into my “work ethic and performance.” When I asked him how I could improve, he replied that I “needed to start wearing high heels, straightening my hair and wearing make up to work.”

I know a woman who has been forced against her will, abusively, to have non-consensual sex and told me from behind a bruised face the next day that “she asked for it.”

I was given bear mace as a gift when traveling to Thailand for the first time.

Many members of the opposite sex, including employers, have told me that my “sensitivity” is a problem. When men call other men “girls,” it is a synonym for being weak. I see my sensitivity and open heartedness as my greatest strength, and others inability to live from this place or respect it their biggest weakness.

All the women in my class were uncomfortable with the teacher of my junior high, known as “Mr. Touching,” who requested that no women wear jackets in his class, as a class rule and policy.

I took my first stand against sexism when I refused his “no jacket policy” and wound up in detention.

I want to pick up  hitchhikers every time I see a thumb on the side of the highway, but if it is a man—I don’t stop.

I need feminism because my vagina shouldn’t give me special treatment or shitty treatment, it should only give me ORGASMS.” ~ Shannon Roberts.

~

From women on #yesallwomen:

Mayhem (@DavySunshine) May 27,2014:

Because what men fear most about going to prison is what women fear most about walking down the sidewalk #YesAllWomen

~

Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) May 25, 2014:

#yesallwomen because “I have a boyfriend” is more likely to get a guy to back off than “no”, because they respect other men more than women

~

Deb Whitman (@DebAARP) May 29, 2014:

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it…without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” Maya Angelou #yesallwomen

~

 Natalie (@NatalieLeGreve) June 5, 2014:

“The reason a fetus has more rights than a woman in America is because a fetus still has the chance of being a man” #YesAllWomen

~

Lili Stenn (@lphaedraa) June 5, 2014:

#YesAllWomen because when we put up posters in school to raise awareness about rape culture, they got taken down by the administration.

~

 Janne Robinson (@EudaimoniaJanne) June 10, 2014:

We don’t want a pretty girl. We want a writer. Go home. ” @GloriaSteinem #yesallwomen

~
From men on #yesallwoman: 

Chris Speed (@TheDeadlyAngel) June 1st, 2014:

#YesAllWomen Rape should be legalized so when the rape happens it won’t be seen as a bad thing, it will save so many lives.

~

Chris Speed (@TheDeadlyAngel) June 1st, 2014:

#yesallwomen if you wear a short dress then you deserve to get raped, just my opinion

~

SLUT WHISPERER (@KirillWasHere) June 3, 2014:

#yesallwomen play hard to get and then cry sexual harassment when we play along

~

Josh Groban (@Joshgroban) June 3, 2014:

Because we all know someone who has been made to feel like it wasn’t assault when it was #yesallwomen

~

Danforth France (@danforthfrance) June 3, 2014:

Post a #yesallwomen post about my mom, get @-reply “jokes” from dudes. You’re making the ladies’ point, you dickbaskets.

~

Albert W Dubreuil (@awdubreuil) May 24, 2014:

Started reading the #yesallwomen tweets b/c I’ve got a daugter[sic], but now I see I should be reading them b/c I’ve got two sons.

Activism is my way of holding the world accountable for its wrong and hate. As an activist I hear the millions of voices who have spoken out through #yesallwomen and feel a burning fire inside my bones.

Do I think there is value in #yesallwomen? Yes.

Is it all feminist “male shaming?” No.

The first resistance to social change is to say it’s not necessary.” ~ Gloria Steinem

This week SC Johnson Companies billionaire heir, Samuel Curtis Johnson III, confessed to repeatedly sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter and has received a prison sentence of a measly four months and a whooping fine of $6,000, because the judge ruled that he is a “productive” member of society.

Does Elliot Rodger ring any déjà vu bells, maybe the Montreal Massacre? Where in 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lépine separated men and women in a classroom of École Polytechnique and opened fire, shooting all nine women and killing six. He then proceeded to walk the halls targeting women in what he claimed to be a “fight against feminism.”

The attitude of the police in many countries often discourages victims from reporting rape: one study in Turkey found that 33 percent of police officers agreed with the assertion that “some women deserve rape” and 66 percent agreed that “the physical appearance and behaviors of women tempt men to rape.”

74 percent of women in Mali said that a husband is justified in beating his wife if she refuses to have sex with him.

Did you read in the newspaper article about the two girls who were raped, killed and hung from a tree in India last month?

Every 22 minutes in India a woman is raped. 98 percent of the rapes are committed by men. Many happen when young women and children go to the fields behind their house to pee, as there are no toilets in their homes.

By the time the average woman reaches 60 years old she will have made $450,000 less than a man in the same exact position.” ~ Laci Green

At the end of the day, our world may have progressed, but by no means is the women’s fight for equality and basic human rights over.

I want women to have worth.

I want to exist in a world full of empowered human beings—that includes both genders. I want to exist in a world where when women speak up about rape and assault, men don’t reply defensively with, “Not all men are.”

For we know that you are not all rapists, that all of you do not grab crotches in broad daylight, make sexist jokes and pop rufies in girls’ drinks. I know that when the majority of you hear the word “No,” you understand what it means, and back off.

I also am by no means saying women are the only victims of rape and sexual assault. Many women are predators and attackers in our world, and many men fall victim to rape by the hand of other men as well.

A 1997 report by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that 99 percent of rapists are male. However, when prison rapes are included in the statistics it has been reported that, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, “more men are raped in the U.S. than women… In 2008, it was estimated 216,000 inmates were sexually assaulted while serving time…compared to 90,479 rape cases outside of prison.”

So, this next part is important.

Although most women stubbornly want to claim independence and solve sexism, and misogyny on their own—it is not just women who hold the keys to a solution.

In order to create a space for women to exist safely, and equally—we will need men.

Saying that we “need men” in this fight does not take away my power as a female for I know that the only way to instigate a change is for us collectively to work together, that means both genders. We need to humanize our roles, throw away stereotypes, stop painting our babies cribs blue and pink.

So men, instead of wasting energy asking, “What about all the good I do?” and personalizing feminism as an attack against all men, acknowledge that in order to radically shift our world, we need you to stand with us.

We need men to stand right beside us in this world, we all need to ride on the equality bus together.

Stand up. And for those of you already standing—I see you. Thank you.

We need you. We need you to call the other men out when we can’t see you—at “guys night” where testosterone is running wild.

We need you to hold each other accountable for degrading behavior. We need allies who not only stand with us when we can see them, but more importantly in the moments we cannot.

We need allies who will help build a world where women don’t need to be afraid of abuse and rape.

We need men like singer Aaron Lewis, who stopped singing halfway through a song at Rockfest when he saw a group of men groping a 15-year-old-girl who was crowd surfing.

And women—we need to let them help us.

At a topless protest march that took place in Vancouver in August, 2013, where women “bore their breasts in the name of gender equality” to support Gwen Jacob (who was arrested and charged for “indecency” for walking topless under the Canadian Criminal Code in 1991), men were requested not to march topless. A close friend of mine told me over dinner that he wanted to go march to support the cause, but was faced with resistance from women to do so.

The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.” ~ Gloria Steinem

And to those of you refusing to move with us, before you shrug off #yesallwomen as a bunch of hairy armpit man eating dykes and over reacting feminists, I’d like to ask you if you have a daughter. Or if you plan on having a child someday? Is there a chance she will be born a female?

One in four females is sexually assaulted in North America.

One in four.

Give a damn for her.

If you have a son, remind him constantly of how important the divine feminine is in our lives. Whisper to him each night to walk with tenderness, sweetness and ferocious might for the ones who exist beside him, regardless of gender. Implement strongly the worth, value and importance of females into his belief systems.

We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons…but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” ~ Gloria Steinem

And women of the world, I ask one more thing of you: speak. Speak as if your lungs require you to do so, each moment of your life. That is a vital first step in a solution. If you are sexually abused, assaulted, date raped, a victim in non consensual sex or rape—speak. Ninety-four percent of sexual assault in Canada is not reported. If you don’t report it, there will be another woman down the line in your shoes. It is our accountability to look out for each other—however uncomfortable, confrontational and challenging the process may be.

It starts now. It starts with you.

It starts with being accountable for one another—hearing these voices and cries drowning social media and reacting with compassion.

To any women who added their voices to the #yesallwomen movement—I give a damn about you. Thank you.

I will continue to use my literary teeth to tear more space in this world for you to speak freely and openly about your experiences. I am listening, and I want to hear more.

Your voices pave the way to a world I want to live in, a world I want my children to live in.