There’s a new hashtag in town.
Followed by a yawn right? Cos who cares about hashtags? Aren’t they just like ‘groups’ on Facebook?
What is a group on Facebook? Someone starts a group based on some topic they feel passionate about such as interesting shapes of clouds, bonsai tree gardening or stuffed animals – you get an invite, you join the group and… NOTHING ELSE EVER HAPPENS. I dunno, maybe you’re in better groups than me, but for the most part they are a way of identifying that you have a particular interest, but not much else. However, the two groups that actually ever did anything, became incredible community spaces because people really got invested and engaged and those were great!
Same with hashtags on Twitter, for the most part. Occasionally you find something fun or interesting and are able to follow it to get more info or greater laughs.
#MeteorShower from Friday night was a classic example of that – huge exciting natural phenomenon of epic proportions prophecied by the people of science, but for the most part the experience of Meteor Shower Watching was a huge anticlimax and led to some classics such as:
— ❥kenZ (@Kenzliee) May 24, 2014
i even got into the act making some Hollywood adapted references to Meteor flavoured movies such as:
— Brett FISH Anderson (@BrettFishA) May 24, 2014
and my most popular:
Thus, in certain situations, hashtags have definitely had their uses, but not many of them as significant as #YesAllWomen which has hit the ground running and been gathering speed over the last 24 hours.
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
Apparently the hashtag was created as a response to the tragic story of the shooting in Santa Barbara on Friday which took the lives of 6 people, as the shooter apparently had a lot of videos on You Tube where he vented his frustrations against women. You can read the article that speaks about the connection over here.
But #YesAllWomen is also part of a longer conversation that involves the rights and freedoms of women and includes topics like the much-misunderstood concept of ‘rape culture’ [the idea that the woman who experiences a rape is made to feel like a victim all over again by how she is treated/judged/looked at afterwards]. This feels like it has been gaining momentum in the last few years and #YesAllWomen is finally an opportunity for it to be brought to a wider audience.
I happened to stumble upon it by accident by following a link [ah so that’s what the hashtag is for] to #YesAllWomen from a tweet someone had retweeted which appeared on my wall. When i started reading, i was deeply moved by some of the messages that i read, such as these:
#YesAllWomen because women are taught how to defend themselves instead of men being taught not to hurt women
— J U N I O R S (@The2015Seniors) May 26, 2014
It was really great seeing some celebs come on board as clearly they have the kind of audience that will help get a message like this moving quicker. Here is one from Patton Oswalt, who hosted the recent Webby awards that celebrated all things internet:
I also found a link to a blog post by Gina Denny which helped explain the hashtag a little more clearly as many people were clearly misunderstanding it and a lot of them [typically men, nice one us!] were getting angry and seeing it as something that was being used against all men. Read this post! This excerpt from the blog piece sums it up well
Writer and comedian Sara Benincasa told The Daily Beast, “#YesAllWomen is important because a lot of very good guys just don’t know what it’s like to walk around in a female body. They don’t know what it’s like to live with the constant nagging threat of sexual violence every time we walk to our cars alone in a parking garage, or walk down the street at night to pick up food for our kids. They don’t know what it’s like to get grabbed, poked, and prodded in public by strangers who are bigger and stronger than we are. Being a woman can be really scary, and if more guys realized it, they might modify their own behavior or call their friends out on bad behavior.”
The hashtag, Benincasa said, has united women to share their stories online. “Seeing one woman share her story can give another woman the idea that it is safe to do so.”
COME ON MEN, WE CAN DO BETTER
Wow, so i thought it would be a good idea to check out the #YesAllMen tag before posting this and so literally just went on there now and am so completely bummed [and sadly not surprised at all] to see the typical response which has, for the most part, been a combination of parody or anger directed towards those taking part in the #YesAllWomen conversation.
At the same time, I have to cheer all the men [and there have been a lot] who have climbed on board, like Patton Oswalt and others, in terms of adding their voices to this tag which was created for women to be able to share their stories. One of the most powerful responses for me [which proved to me how valid and valuable this is] is women who commented that reading through the hashtag messages resonated with so much of what was said which combated the feelings many of them had of being alone. As with many of the Taboo Topics i share stories from on my blog [dealing with issues/experiences such as losing a child, abortion, infertility, even singleness] the power in them comes when a person who is struggling through something alone, finds that there is a larger community they are a part of, of people who at least in some way understand.
But reading through #YesAllMen [which i don’t even want to give a second of attention to by posting examples here or giving a link – some of the commentary there was pure filth] just backs up how important this conversation is and hopefully finding ways that we can make progress in that area, which is clearly the source of a lot of pain for many women.
CAN WE PLEASE STAY FOCUSED ON THE THING
And then there is also #YesAllPeople which i imagine may have been started by some well meaning person who thought that we should all be focusing on these issues together. Or very likely not – there seems to be a mix of comments on there ranging from sarcastic and well-meaning to aggressive and eye-rolling and more. But what it does is it takes the focus of a very real issue that has been raised and in some part says that it is not important or worth really listening to. This tweet sums it up so well:
So yes, there is probably a need for the idea of #YesAllPeople for a range of topics and issues and areas that need some focus and discussion. But this is not one of them. There is a need for men everywhere to be LISTENING and REALLY TRYING TO HEAR AND EMPATHISE AND UNDERSTAND what is being said. We will probably never ‘get it’ until the wolf whistles start happening to us and we can’t walk down a street with a woman following us and be in absolute fear or when we get judged by our clothing and treated in many ways like second rate citizens.
We won’t fully get it, but we can try to understand and we HAVE TO LISTEN!
I am a man. And i support #YesAllWomen. As the graphic at the top says, it should not have to be because she is someone’s sister or mother or daughter… but it should be enough that she is someone. And deserves our care and respect. Hopefully a day is coming when we don’t need to wear things like this:
[To read the three part series i wrote last year shortly after my wife, tbV, was harrassed on the street in Oakland, titled ‘On why rape [and violence to women in general] needs to be taken seriously, click here]