#YesAllWomen: Women’s Voices Telling Women’s Stories

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“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

– Margaret Atwood.

 

This weekend, seven people were killed and seven injured because they were shot by a man who thought he was better than them. Because he thought he was entitled to what they had. To who they were. Because he believed he deserved things women chose not to share with him. Because he believed he had a right to their bodies and to their lives.

Victim of Acid Throwing

 

News media was quick to identify the shooter as mentally ill and that his actions could be explained and justified, however tragically; this is a perfectly delusional trap that excuses the social fact that being a woman is actually dangerous to a matter of one man’s psychosis. The embarrassing reality is that while one man was responsible for pulling the trigger, we all share in the responsibility for ending the lives of not just these seven, but millions of men and mostly women.

In a 140 page manifesto and a 7 minute YouTube video, Elliot Rodger gave us a frightening look at what a culture of rape and misogyny apologetics allows. Elliot Rodger was a 22 year old virgin who lamented the agony of never finding a girl who wanted to “give their affection and sex and love” to him. He believed that when he got to college, he’d access the right to have sex with women, and that he had gone two years without cashing in was, in fact, “torturous.” It was not “fair.” It was an “injustice.” It was a “crime.” Yes, he fervently believed the fact that women would not sleep with him was criminal.

Female Genital Mutilation

A few years ago, I dated a man who crossed many physical and emotional boundaries because he felt entitled to me and I was afraid to deny him. He found out where I lived and forced himself in my house after I asked him to leave. I lived alone and he was physically stronger than me; I was afraid of the consequences of not letting him in, so I did. When he was in my house, he expected certain things to happen and was violently angry when I said no. He frequently showed up where I worked and spent hours waiting until I was ready to leave, and then kept me there until everyone else was gone. He texted me every hour for weeks wanting to know where I was and who I was with and when he would see me again. I feared answering my phone and often left it home. I just didn’t want to deal with it. I tried to end things, but he had plans of marrying me. I moved, and he found where I lived. I changed my number, and he tracked it down. I started a new job, and he followed me there, too. One time, he pinned me against my car when I tried to leave him.

#YesAllWomen know this trick. This trick to not get raped.

I was afraid of this man, and I was afraid of asking for help. He hadn’t raped me, so I believed that there was nothing anyone could do for me, and that asking for help might provoke him to seek revenge. Ultimately, I believed that because he had never raped me, my fears were not yet justified. I am terrified that there is a reality in which a woman feels like she had to be raped in order to feel justified in asking for help, and even then might not be taken seriously. It is terrifying that there is a reality in which man will slaughter woman because she turned him down.

Letter Given to BYU Student While Walking to Class

 

Soon after we learned the name of the man who shot and killed women because they were women, social media responded with the contemporary tool around which my generation is best able to discuss global issues: hashtags.

One man posted on Facebook about #allwomen:

“I feel really bad for him, rejection is agony. I’m glad he did what he did. Women are destroying society. Women NEED to be woken up to the fact that their actions cause men to go crazy. Women attack people psychologically as they cannot use physicality. The only way a man can fight back is physically. I applaud what this guy did and encourage more young men to take women’s lives, it’s the only way we can fight feminism. Women have declared war on us guys, we have to fight back. Well done Rodger, what you did was the right things to do. More women have to die.”

Because “friendzone” could get you killed

And then, a conversation emerged and illuminated the fact that this is not the product of one or two mentally ill men, but a consequence of a world that says men are entitled to the sex and to the lives of women. I have never told anyone my story because I’ve known women for whom this experience was much more devastating and ended very differently. I thought it was not worth telling my story because it wasn’t as bad as others endured.

We allow a culture in which women should be grateful, if not blamed, for their rape.

I share it now because it is important that we recognize that what I experienced, and what many women experience, happened because we permit men to treat women as if they have a right to her body. It’s because we are still teaching women to not be raped, and that if she is, it was ultimately her fault. We teach women to act and dress and speak a certain way to not only protect themselves, but also to protect men. Why? Because boys will be boys and boys cannot help themselves. I am so beyond over the slut-shaming victim-blaming that excuses men to rape women.

#YesAllWomen ignites the storytelling of women’s shared experiences: the assaults we are afraid of, the stories we don’t tell, and the realities that make us nod because we are women.I forgot how long I was afraid of what that man might do to me until I scrolled through thousands of these tweets. I remember that fear of being the last person to leave work and needing to walk to my car in a dark parking lot. I remember that one of my best friends was kidnapped and raped and there was nothing she could have, or should have, done to prevent it.

Elizabeth Smart, Survivor

Elliot Rodger, an entitled asshole, said about women, “All I ever wanted was to love you, and to be loved by you. I’ve wanted a girlfriend, I’ve wanted sex, and I’ve wanted love, affection, adoration. You think I’m unworthy of it. That’s a crime that can never be forgiven. If I can’t have you, I will destroy you.”

It is horrifying that we live in a world where women ultimately have two options when a man wants to have sex and she isn’t interested: she must choose between rape and death. The terrifying words and deadly actions of one 22-year old man tells us that this is true.

Steubenville, where the lives of these men were valued and protected over the woman they raped.

I’m afraid and I’m angry. I’m afraid of walking to my car alone, of living in a first floor apartment, that saying no to a man could get me killed. I’m angry, infuriatingly and agonizingly angry, that we still have to talk about this shit. I’m pissed that men and boys can record themselves raping a girl or woman, share it on social media, and still be found innocent. How many women have to be raped and beaten and killed before we are ready to have a conversation that we are responsible for this toxic and deadly global community?

#YesAllWomen: Listen to these stories, trust their words and experiences, and be angry with them. Know that just because you’ve never seen it, done it, or experienced it, it doesn’t mean it’s not real. Be pissed when people make rape jokes; tell people how backwards it is when we tell girls to cover up because it might distract boys; fight for the women who have survived the words you are reading. Don’t tolerate a world in which Elliot Rodger is free to be Elliot Rodger.

My life depends on it.

#YesAllWomen

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11 responses »

  1. Thank you for this post. This story is so disturbing and I was not aware of some of these responses because I am not on twitter. I agree that we can’t just use mental illness as an excuse though I know it was a factor. This is definitely a cultural problem.

  2. This is SO well written, and the pictures add an extra layer of “WTF” to it. Reading through #YesAllWomen on Twitter, I find it frustrating and ironic that so many of the responses on there illustrate clearly the points being made by #YesAllWomen. The number of men trying to make it about men (BUT NOT ALL MEN DO THIS!!!! Well you shouldn’t show skin if you don’t expect/want attention!!!) is – while not remotely shocking – aggravating and frustrating.
    And yet, there’s this amazing solidarity and strength from the voices of women joining together to say ‘This isn’t ok, what we deal with is unacceptable”, and the support from good men is… well… good.
    TL:DR – thanks for a great post, I hope people stop being jerks soon. *goes back to Twitter*

  3. Great post, however; the Steubenville perpetraters were found guilty, sent to juivenille detention and put on the sex offender list. Why say they were found innocent?

  4. I stand corrected. I was referring to the cases in which college-aged men have been found innocent: Maryville, Duke, Florida State, among many.

  5. I’m shocked this post hasn’t gone viral (yet…) What an important post. Thank you so much.

  6. Part of the problem with the Steubenville case is that while the perpetrators were found guilty, the media attention was all on how THEIR lives were now ruined. No mention was made in the media about how their victim’s life was forever altered. How her reputation was and self worth will forever be sullied. It was all about how their promising sports careers will now be cut short. How their dreams of college and later possibly professional ball are no longer an option. The media attention was all along that track. Not a peep about how their victim would go on. We need to stop the victim blaming and teach our men from a very young age that they don’t own the rights to anyone’s body but their own.

  7. Pingback: #yesallwomen | Hey, Judy

  8. I’m sitting here at 2 am reading this when I probably should be sleeping, but now I can’t. I haven’t even been able to go on Facebook these past couple of days because people I know are posting things about the “men-hating feminists” the “radicals using tragedies to push their agendas”. It just makes me sad. And that picture…that note given to a girl walking around BYU campus. It reminded me. I’ve dated Mormon boys. And I just had flashbacks of times when we’d be alone, having a moment when a Mormon boy I was dating would suddenly become very uncomfortable. One time in particular, he stopped me and asked me to pull up my shirt. Keep in mind, I was raised Mormon. I always did what I was told. I never wore shorts, even on the hottest days of the summer because I had been taught that I needed to be modest. I felt uncomfortable showing skin. I WAS MODEST. I mean sure, I guess I could’ve walked around swaddled in a snuggie to go that extra mile. But this boy tells me that he needs me to pull up my shirt. My tank top would slip down sometimes. Not a lot. But just enough to get him hot and bothered. I was 15. And my face just lit up bright red, I was so ashamed. I felt terrible for making him feel that way. And now…now it just makes me angry. So SO SO SO AngrY. Why should I feel ashamed? I literally went above and beyond to be that perfect girl. To make it so this boy could do what he was supposed to. Well listen. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t control his damn thoughts. I slipped, my tank top slipped. FOR ONE SECOND. I let my guard down for just one second. And it was enough to make him uncomfortable. So of course, rather than controlling himself, he makes ME feel ashamed, he makes ME think that I’ve done wrong. He was a good boy. I was a good girl. And you know what? I don’t think its his fault. I don’t hate him and I never could. I have SO MUCH respect for him. But I’m angry. It’s not just within Mormon culture. In Mormon culture its less violent, more about simple good and right, boys just wanting to have good clean thoughts. But it is taught so wrong. In Mormon culture, and in all societies. I do not hate men. I feel sorrow for them. and sympathy. It is not that boy’s fault that he was raised in a society that teaches boys wrong. What I hate…is… This society? It includes men and women. I helped perpetuate it by feeling ashamed myself, by believing. So no. These aren’t just radical men-hating feminists pushing their agenda. These are girls. Women. Men. Boys. These are people who see the truth. I’m just an 18 year old girl. I’m hardly politically active. I’m not pushing anything. I’m just feeling sad.

  9. Abby, I hear you. I was on a date once with a man who told me that my dress was simply not modest enough for him. My garment-covering, designed-by-an-LDS-woman dress was not modest enough for him. I stood up and left. If how I choose to dress makes a guy uncomfortable, how can I trust him with bigger issues like human rights? Or my integrity?

    I challenge you to engage that conversation with him the way you have us. Let HIM know how YOU feel.

    I’m glad you came to visit here. Please feel free to email me if you want to talk about anything! (morinmezzadri@gmail.com)

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