We’re all familiar and, hopefully, sickened by Elliot Rodger’s killing spree last week.
I’m not necessarily going to talk about that.
He blamed his breakdown on women for not fulfilling his sexual desires and for throwing themselves at other men. Most likely men who wouldn’t stab or gun them down in a lackadaisical fashion, but I’m not necessarily going to talk about that, either.
Let’s talk about the hashtag #YesAllWomen and what happened when I used it.
#YesAllWomen is Twitter hashtag that quickly gained popularity after the shootings. The idea is that not every man acts in such a threatening manner, but yes, all women have or do feel fear based on the actions of men. Not every man, but #YesAllWomen.
Let me make myself clear. I’m not bashing men. I would never bash men. I have been extremely fortunate in growing up with a wonderful father, an awesome brother, and good male friends who have taught me the goodness, strength, and value of men. The good men I know far outnumber the bad, and by saying that I support women, I am in no way saying that I don’t support men. However, it’s sad and very true that nearly every woman I know has felt threatened at one time or another, and often by men. #YesAllWomen is a place to share that.
My tweets? Two. Two tweets.
The first: # Because I wrote a novella about an abused woman and received heart-wrenching emails from women who said I “got it right.”
The second: # Because my husband never felt he had to hide a pocket knife in his boot just in case.
That’s it. All I said. Two instances that I felt strongly about, shared on a forum created specifically so women could discuss how we feel. And there’s so much more I could say!
Because I gained 30 pounds and cut my hair off to make myself unattractive for work. Because I never walked my date to the door so he wouldn’t be molested. Because my brother never had his phone on 911 with his finger over the SEND button while walking to the car. Because my husband wasn’t offered a promotion contingent on sleeping with his boss. Because my girlfriends and I discuss creepers on a daily basis. Because when someone backed into my car, he yelled at me until my friend stepped out in his military uniform, and then he apologized. To HIM.
Because I’ve had that point where I realized that, no matter how hard you fight, sometimes you physically can’t get away.
Because I’m raising daughters in Las Vegas, and it’s difficult to teach them about respect in an environment that doesn’t practice it.
But no, I didn’t mention those. I only mentioned the two things. And what happened?
Strangers tracked me down and sent me threats. They called me a feminist pig, ridiculed my books, said that I was stomping on men’s rights and all manner of terrible things. Some alluded that I needed to learn my lesson, and there would be plenty of people willing to teach it.
Sooooooo…you didn’t like me saying I felt threatened and decided the best way to stop that was to threaten me?
Let’s cast the gender thing aside for a moment. I don’t want deal with the gender wars, the mommy wars, the homeschooling wars, or any of the other imaginary wars that we’re wasting our time on. Let’s talk person to person. Individual to individual.
You are not better than me.
I don’t care if you’re bigger, can run faster, are better at ballet, or put Einstein to shame.
You are not better than her.
I don’t care if she’s smaller, quiet, is afraid of the dark, or has a disability.
I am not better than you.
She is not better than him.
You are not better than them. We are not better than you. They are not better than us.
Get the gist? We are equal. EQUAL. Supporting a woman doesn’t mean you don’t support a man. Supporting him doesn’t mean I don’t support you. Colleagues are not competition. Love isn’t like a cup of sugar that’s all used up. And other things of that nature.
If I’m telling you that I’ve felt threatened, then don’t try to talk me out of it. If your little sister is afraid to run to the gas station at night, respect it. I’m sorry that you think that my saying, “Hey, I’d like to have my voice be heard,” somehow insults you. Guess what? We aren’t talking about you right now. We’re talking about a group who are standing together and saying that we shouldn’t have to be afraid all of the time. It’s our turn. After this, you may have your turn to say what you want to say. And chances are very good that, if you aren’t a hysterical, frothing-at-the-mouth jerk, I’ll listen and support you.
You’re damaging the good men who don’t treat women like garbage. You’re shaming and disrespecting people who are trying to make a difference in the world. You’re setting all of us back.
This goes both ways, too. Each gender abuses each gender. That is, of course, equally as shameful. Stand up for strength and goodness, period. If you’re going to track down a random stranger and threaten to harm her, you’re obviously passionate and have some time on your hands. Why not use it to be a hero? Why not try to hold back the dam of hatred?
I see the most extraordinary people stand between those they love and harm’s way. People who have rushed to help others. Sometimes it’s the little things, like sending a cheering email. Sometimes they do it by simply not being a jerk. Sometimes they literally jump in front of bullets. Choose how you’re going to do it, but do it. I believe that you can. I believe in you.
Do you know why? Because we are people. Because you are a PERSON, you have a portion of my respect. When I learn more about you and who you are, most likely you’ll earn much more of it. But threatening women who have something to say? It isn’t cool.
#YesAllWomen Because I was threatened for opening my mouth.
#YesAllWomen Because some random whackadouches just proved why this hashtag is necessary.
Mercedes M. Yardley is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, and Nameless: The Darkness comes.