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May, 2014

#YesAllWomen - Just Read A Few

I’m not the type to jump on social media bandwagons, especially not “hashtag activism” but, I felt this one was worthy of my attention and time. The #YesAllWomen hashtag that popped up after the Elliot Rodger murders and suicide in Isla Vista/Santa Barbara has taken on a life of its own and I would imagine the woman who scrolls through this Twitter hashtag feed and doesn’t read several things that resonate with her, is rare indeed. Perhaps non-existent. This feed is compelling. thought provoking, upsetting, disturbing and truthful.

We live in a world where women and girls live in fear of men. Unfortunately, this is fact. For all of the maniacs (especially women) who are going to freak out at this statement and say “I don’t live in fear of men!!” Calm down. Don’t get your undies in a bundle. I don’t mean every second of every day or every man in the world. I know not every man is a murderer or rapist and not every man is violent or abusive. But there are several different levels of fear and our society and culture feeds this malignancy.

Why did it take such a tragic event for people to start talking? Is social media helping or harming? I generally hate the political side of social media and stay away from it, but I’m glad to see these thoughts being put out there. Wherever “there” is. What is happening online is not a real dialogue. Few things online are real.  But hopefully this feed sparks some real dialogues. Helps people put down their smartphones a little bit and discuss a real issue.

I am 41 yrs old and I have experienced NUMEROUS assaults, threats and abuses from men and boys throughout my life. From early childhood until fairly recently. Physical, sexual, verbal. Some were men I knew, some were strangers. Unfortunately, I’m not special. I’m not a survivor or a victim. I’m a regular person. We need to stop being so clandestine about how common this is and, perhaps, #YesAllWomen is a small step forward.

We hold fast to the stereotype of the woman who is a victim of abuse. She’s weak, she’s unintelligent, she’s desperate for attention, she has low self-esteem, she dresses inappropriately, she’s a flirt, she’s a bitch. I don’t think anyone who knows me would describe me in any of these ways and the bottom line is that these stereotypes are irrelevant.

When I was pregnant with Aubrey and when she was an androgynous looking infant people constantly asked me, “Boy or girl?” When I told them “girl”, here are the standard responses I got:

– Good luck, girls are hard
– They’re cute when they’re little, but they are horrible as teenagers
– I have both and boys are so much easier
– I’d take a boy over a girl any day
– Girls are so emotional. Wait until the tween years.
– I’m so glad I have/had boys
– Girls are so cute, but boys are easier to raise

…and on and on and on. I still hear these types of remarks today and she’s almost 7 yrs old.

Why is it that we treat girls’ natural emotional and expressive personalities as “difficult” “bitchy” “scary” but assume boys’ sullen, withdrawn, quiet personalities as “easy to raise” when a hell-fire storm of unfathomable proportions could be brewing just below the surface? Maybe we think boys are so easy to raise because we aren’t actually raising them.

What Elliot Rodger did was horrifying. It was extreme and it wasn’t typical. But his attitude towards women falls within a very common misogynistic norm in our society that is mostly ignored and, at times, even celebrated.

Please read the #YesAllWomen hashtag feed on Twitter and if you don’t have a Twitter account or you’re like my parents and have no idea what Twitter is, here is a link that will give you a sampling:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alanwhite/twitter-responds-to-santa-barbara-shootings-with-yesallwomen

If you’ve been under a rock, and don’t know about the Elliot Rodger murders that happened on May 23, 2014 in the Santa Barbara, CA area, here is the Google search result.

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