by Rachel Long
assistant opinions editor
If you were on Twitter at all this summer, you probably noticed #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen were trending hashtags. So, just when you thought all that drama was over, I’m bringing it up again. My Twitter account fell into disuse about a week after I signed up, but I still couldn’t avoid getting caught up in this new war of the sexes.
For those unfamiliar, #NotAllMen was established in 2011 as a response to feminist arguments. #YesAllWomen—which mainly focuses on claims of misogyny that are viewed as universal problems by ‘all women’ (as the hashtag implies)—began as both a response to #NotAllMen and as a response to Elliot Roger’s killing spree in May of this year. Many of Roger’s video diaries leading up to the killings included a plethora of reasons why women were to be blamed for his unhealthy mental state. As such, it is understandable why women would be totally freaked out that there are people out there who believe they ‘deserve’ either love or sex from women. Thus, the dawn of #YesAllWomen, I believe, can be seen as an attempt to draw attention to the fact thatthere are psychos out there who see rejection by women as grounds for homicide.
The enormous response to #YesAllWomen (1.2 million tweets in the first four days) was viewed by some as less of an expression of the daily struggles faced by women and more of an attack on men. This led to an overwhelming number of men using #NotAllMen to respond to claims of sexism.
This, I think, is where things got serious. #YesAllWomen first became popular as a tool to express the fear that women felt after a killing spree—a tragedy that was supposedly their fault for not sleeping with Elliot Roger. It also worked to further express the inequality many women face on a daily basis. #YesAllWomen was used as an avenue to express positive and encouraging views of female body images and self-worth. As with any form of social media, some people used the hashtag for negativity, but overall the responses conveyed messages of positivity and support.
The use of #NotAllMen as a defense against the claims of sexism in #YesAllWomen belittles both of these campaigns. #YesAllWomen is NOT #YesAllMen; it is not attacking the male gender simply for existing. It is, however, attacking underlying social injustices that have only been superficially addressed by society. It is certain, however, that all women face some type of gender injustice in their lifetime, whether it is abuse, subjugation, fear of a man, or something else. And guess what? No one believes that all men are rapists or killers, or even bad people. But women have been taught to be afraid when a man steps around a corner at night, and many women live in fear that a man could potentially harm her physically or emotionally.
Of course, I could be biased because I’m a woman. Or, maybe I’m just more realistic because of it.