Yes, all women have been harassed.
Yes, all women have been judged by our looks, not our merit.
Yes, all women have been around men who have discounted, denied and demeaned us.
Yes, all women are outraged by the misogynistic ravings of Elliot Rodger, the narcissistic 22-year-old who went on a killing spree in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Friday night because women didn’t respond to him the way he believed he was entitled to have them respond.
Rodger vowed to slaughter the magazine-beautiful blondes who didn’t want to have sex with him. He posted rants in online forums where — surprise, surprise — that kind of misogynistic bile was unremarkable and other men ratified his hatred.
Women heard Elliot Rodger. And they began flooding Twitter by the hundreds of thousands with their responses, using the hashtag #YesAllWomen.
“I’ve spent 19 yrs teaching my daughter how not to be raped,” one mother tweeted. “How long have you spent teaching your son not to rape? #YesAllWomen”
“Because I wasn’t ‘asking for it’ when he hit me,” another tweeted, “and I shouldn’t have to defend myself a decade later. #YesAllWomen”
“#YesAllWomen b/c we are called fat, ugly, and slutty/threatened w/rape all the time online, & we are told to ‘just ignore the trolls.’”
The #YesAllWomen Twitter campaign is powerful. And necessary. It tells the stories we keep to ourselves, and it takes back a Twitterverse that is so often used as a space to intimidate, harass and threaten women.
It’s true that #NotAllMen are like Elliot Rodger. But there are millions who share the same twisted view of women that he did, and we encounter them every day on our streets and campuses and military bases, in our offices and boardrooms and gyms and bars. Sometimes we encounter them in our own families.
Elliot Rodger has exposed the sick world of the Men’s Rights Activist movement, self-described “alphas” who fume about any and all the times they don’t call the shots with women, specifically the air-brushed, inflated and photo-shopped creatures they assume are there for them.
Mostly, it’s about sex. Or the lack thereof.
A group of them call themselves Pickup Artists. And some sell their wisdom — tips that include stale bar tricks, ways to insult and ignore women as part of their seduction — as online courses, apps or seminars. They call this ability to get women to sleep with them “Game.”
When desperate men who shell out cash thinking it will buy them Game fail, they lash out online. Not at the men who try to sell them Game, but at the women who didn’t buy the act.
Rodger, the son of a film director who drove a BMW and never had to work a summer job, was one of the Pickup Artist haters. On websites for like-minded men, he posted racist and misogynistic rants so bad, they were flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And in his manifesto, he said the killings wouldn’t have happened if just one beautiful woman had paid attention to him.
He may have been mentally ill, but he was also the product of a culture that objectifies, demeans and sexualizes women. Nearly one in five American women report being raped at some time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The raging sexual assault epidemic in our military and on our college campuses is a reflection of the entitlement too many men feel they have to women’s bodies.
Every day we hear of another military man — powerful, disciplined, bulging with Game — who sexually assaulted a woman in uniform. This month, investigations began at 55 colleges and universities over the way their officials have handled sexual assault. These are our nation’s thought leaders — privileged, educated, bursting with tweedy Game — who have rebranded rape as “non-consensual sex” so they won’t have to deal with the misogyny on display on their campuses.
Think it’s not real? Consider the texts and emails allegedly exchanged between members of a banished frat at American University. The young men — who also were identified as scholars, interns at prestigious nonprofits and senators’ offices — show a shuddering hatred and objectification of their female classmates.
In the five years I’ve been a columnist, I’ve been called a whore, a slut and worse when I’ve written about work-life balance, breast-feeding or child care. I’ve been told that I need to have poison poured into my “whiney-woman mouth.”
The unfiltered misogyny of Elliot Rodger is extreme, but it’s an indicator of the hatred that remains a stubborn part of our society’s fabric. No, #NotAllMen are like Elliot Rodger. But #YesAllWomen reveal the little pieces of him we encounter every single day.