Not long after the Friday night shooting near UC Santa Barbara—which resulted in six murders and seven injuries—we learned that the suspect, 22-year old Elliot Rodger, often used the internet as an outlet for his misogynistic thoughts. And now, the internet is responding with #YesAllWomen, a hashtag which invites women to share their stories about the female experience.
In videos uploaded to his YouTube page, Rodger vented his frustrations with women. Rodgers called women “sluts” and expressed his belief that “you girls have something against me—I don't know what it is.”
“A lot of very good guys just don't know what it's like to walk around in a female body.”
In a video posted the day of the shooting, Rogers lamented, “Whenever I drive through this college town called Isla Vista, which is right next to UCSB, I see so many hot, beautiful blonde girls walking with absolute stupid, obnoxious looking douchebags. And I just can't help but think how wrong that is. Those beautiful blonde girls should be walking with me.”
The internet responded almost immediately to Rodger's comments—which indicated that he believed he was entitled to sex with women, and that being denied it was some kind of injustice—with #YesAllWomen (named in response to the Not All Men meme).
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.”
Writer Elon Green responded to my tweet asking what people thought about the hashtag by saying, “pretty much every #YesAllWomen tweet I've seen has been, on some level, revelatory. … At their best, hashtags of this sort allow people to admit things that they might otherwise be too uncomfortable to divulge.”
Not everyone is so impressed, however. In an email to the The Daily Beast, Dan Abels wrote, “I don't quite understand the reasoning or logic behind it…I don't really think you can tie one crazy jealous loser who goes on a killing spree and then turn that into some broader story about ‘rape culture.’”
“Feel free to use me as an example of an out-of-touch evil man,” he added.