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Gender Block: Yes All Women

Hillary Di Menna

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 11.56.59 AMSince the Elliot Rodger story broke two weekends ago, many took to Twitter and other social media platforms using #YesAllWomen. With this hash tag, women posted circumstances regarding all kinds of abuse and discrimination. For many, this kind of sharing can be a way for a victim to have their voice heard, a forum for women to connect, and a chance for everyone to see these issues are very real. It also serves as a response to the “Not all men” argument, like this HLNtv article explains: “While not all men may be guilty of XYZ, yes, all women have to deal with certain issues and here they are.”

Of course, violence against women becoming the focus of conversation got some people angry. Coincidentally, this ManKind Initiative video went viral* at the same time as #YesAllWomen, with many video-sharers writing about how this proves violence against women is always taken seriously, and therefore isn’t the real problem. Other gems included: Let’s just forget about it and move on; violence is violence, why segregate it into just violence against women; and, let’s all forget about feminism and be humanists instead. Blah blah blah. How very noble.

Instead of seeing the very real struggles and violence women are faced with every day, many saw the discussion as man-bashing. Because, what about the men? Not all men are like that!

As a friend of mine says, “If it bothers someone that gendered violence against women is a *focus* of conversation, that person should probably look internally to figure out why that is, rather than throwing a bunch of misogynistic and derailing temper tantrum on the interwebz.”

Fantasy author Jim C. Hines also wrote a response to this attitude on his Facebook page:

“Countless women are speaking out about their own experiences of being threatened, harassed, stalked, intimidated, and assaulted by men for the ‘crime’ of saying no. And you as a guy want to make the conversation about your hurt feelings?”

It is often the case that everything feminist gets derailed in order to make it seem less important. This strategy is clearly successful as the patriarchy is still very strong—if it weren’t, this pesky Yes All Women nonsense wouldn’t exist. I agree that some people truly believe sexism doesn’t exist, or that feminism prevents all sides from being heard. But as Feministing contributor Juliana Britto writes in her article An open letter to privileged people who play devil’s advocate, “These discussions may feel like ‘playing’ to you, but to many people in the room, it’s their lives you are ‘playing’ with. The reason it feels like a game to you is because these are issues that probably do not directly affect you.”

Others don’t want anything to change, or they simply don’t care; they dismiss feminism to justify their lack of empathy and action. Thankfully, as the Yes All Women movement grows, these people are controlling the conversation less and less.

* Violence against men isn’t funny, despite the amount of male rape jokes telling us otherwise. Dismantling the societal expectation that males must be tough guys and not “pussies” will help everyone a great deal. However, the existence of violence against men  does not make the predominant sexism against women disappear. It is a shame this video took the comparison route to showcase a real problem.




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