Why #YesAllWomen matters

One of my brilliant, amazing, talented friends wrote a moving post about the intersection of #YesAllWomen, bullying and boundaries. (Trigger warning: Does contain references to sexual assault and rape.)

I’m not going to rehash it here; just go read it: #YesAllWomen, and it starts young.

The hashtag sprang up in response to a young man’s decision — fueled by misogyny and rage and the mistaken belief that he had a right to others’ bodies — to kill six people in Santa Barbara, California, and wound 13 others.

Reading through the millions of responses — and sifting out the predictable whining of dudebros getting their sensitive feelings hurt and conservative blowhards who honestly can’t see the connection between the murder of six people and the stories shared through the hashtag — is heartbreaking and upsetting and makes me so very angry.

What it’s not, however, is surprisingly.

I felt a flash of recognition in so many of these stories: a woman running into a Starbucks to avoid a man who’d been following her; the thrill of fear in being approached and then harassed on a subway while reading a book (and, of course, not smiling); being judged for wearing something too short or not short enough. And, of course, there are stories of sexual assault and rape, stories of bystanders who did nothing or, worse, who just laughed and let it happen.

Every woman has a story they could tag. Every woman you know — your mum, sister, best friend, the girl at the coffee shot who makes your latte — had experienced some form of sexual violence, even if it’s just keeping a key clenched between her fingers as she walks to her car at night.

It’s outrageous that this is a problem, that there are those who believe misogyny isn’t read, or it it is, that it hurts no one. The shooting last week disproves it. My friend’s post — of a 6-year-old girl getting attacked by a 7-year-old boy — illustrates that.

And it starts even younger than that. I’ve personally heard and seen cases of girls as young as 3 years old being assaulted.

This needs to stop. Misogyny hurts everyone.