Last week, my Twitter timeline was flooded with the trending topic #YesAllWomen. At first, I was kind of thrown off by it because I didn’t understand the need (not saying it wasn’t true, but I didn’t see the beneficial need) to divide genders by essentially stating that all women encounter something but not all men encounter it. I’ve always felt that messages like that alienate people instead of encourage a mutual understanding. Upon further review, I saw that the real purpose of the trending topic was solidarity. That women used the hashtag message to show overwhelming support for one another and show that issues of harassment are affecting women everywhere. Still, I don’t think enough has been done.
See, while in school I spent a considerable amount of time working with the Rape Center at my college. I wanted to take a stand because I’ve always felt a certain type of way about the way adolescent and college young men act when it comes to issues of sex and violence. My stance has been and always will be we need to find ways to have meaningful, candid conversations without pointing the finger. That’s the only way to flesh out ignorance. We need to stop thinking that we’re going to teach men not to rape, that’s not going to happen. Rapists don’t go to a class to learn how not to rape women. Rapists are sex offenders who have a disease.
What we need to do is begin enabling everyone as a steward for change as it pertains to sex assault. Realistically speaking, a conversation that raises awareness about sexual assault and harassment is most likely going to be shared with someone who is probably never going to commit the assault. But what we need to do is find a way to make sure that although he or she may never do it, they feel enabled to stop someone else from doing when they witness an offense either happening or about to happen.
Read the conclusion at MadameNoire.
Did you happen to observe #YesAllWomen and #AllMenCan on Twitter last week? Did you take the time to participate? What are your thoughts on ways that women can achieve solidarity without alienating men? Does it even matter?
Campaigns inspire awareness. They tend to miss the stories and accounts from the real victims. Tthe real victims are the quietest while men are busy getting offended and women are just as busy accusing men of not taking this issue seriously enough.
I too volunteered at a rape center and I don’t recommend it. It’s a great way to
feel like a piece of crap while volunteering. I appreciate the experience and
it shapes my opinion on these campaigns that start up every now and then.
Rape is a hard conversation to be had. The rapists don’t show up to that forum. What’s left is a bunch of non-rapist (men) that can’t relate to the mind of a rapist so they hold up useless and self-serving signs like the one above. I get it. I mean, what else is there to do right? It’s not enough to simply not be a rapist. Everyone must decry it loudly.
This goes back to the old “Doing anything is better than nothing, right?” argument. Holding signs in a photo online is doing nothing but raising awareness. Which is useful up to a point. I’m one of the people who think we need not just conversation but hard change that should start now. Sometimes you have to point fingers and ask meaningful, critical questions. After you take a photo holding a sign, then what?
i saw it.
wasn’t my place to say anything.
This is a very personal issue with me. I know of at least ten women who were abused as children by grown men (SMDH). At least two of them were raped by family members. I was “hit on” by two of my teachers as a middle schooler. Had a pimp try to “turn me out” to work for him when I was 14. Two “prominent” men in my hometown had children by minors while they were married. I mean a lawyer and an elected official. I can feel my blood pressure rising just writing this post. I could go on and on, and that was over thirty years ago.
Everytime I see a man leaning out of his car window to “holler at” or “check out” some obviously underage girl I want to pull out an AK47 and spray the whole car. I simply cannot believe that these men don’t know these girls are children.
I honestly don’t know what the solution is, but at least now girls/women are speaking out, which they did not do in my day. And most of the men I know now are much more aware. But I am extremely saddened that this is still an issue in the 21st century when we all should be more enlightened.
I feel like…a lot of your viewpoint is the reason #yesallwomen exists.
The fact that so many men are oblivious to the pervasiveness and magnitude of rape culture is why it exists.
The fact that you saw that hashtag and “didn’t see a need for it” is why it exists.
The fact that you are implying that the hashtag is about pointing fingers and not about opening eyes is why it exists.
The fact that you believe that it’s impossible to teach men how not to rape is why it exists.
The idea that rapists have some kind of disease that makes them different from other men and are not just regular dudes who think they have a right to take something from a woman because of the way she looks or behaves is why the #yesallwomen hashtag exists.
The hashtag isn’t just about solidarity, it’s about opening your eyes to what is happening for women every day. Do you ever get in an elevator with another man and start to fear for your life and stare at the floor numbers and frantically will them to move faster so you can “escape” unharmed? That’s what women experience and the point of the hashtag is to make that known.
My only issue with all that you said is that there was nothing you said that I didn’t already know and your response was pointed towards me like I didn’t know it. That’s why I think the hashtag points fingers, that’s a perfect example in fact.
My opinion is that even when something has good intentions, if it falls short, then it falls short. The hashtag may have seemed to be effective but the overwhelming majority of the tweets associated with it were “these things happen to women and men don’t understand” and that’s not conducive to anything and anyone suggesting it is falling short.
The regular dudes who think they have a right to take something away from women also have a disease too. Anyone living that way has a disease and it’s not just men. The women who think they have a right to tell men what they know and what they feel and who they are are taking away our ability to be ourselves and define ourselves. That’s wrong too.
The point of my post was to say if you want the movement to work then you have to find ways to be inclusive not exclusive. If that’s not clear to women at this point then I think we need to spend more time on that than anything else.
I also said that I didn’t understand the need to divide the genders… didn’t say I didn’t understand the need for the hashtag. Not sure how that got conveyed incorrectly.
No rapists are not “regular dudes”. If you fear for your life anytime you are in the presence of a man, then you have serious issues. What percentage of men are rapists? 0.2%? 0.5%? For you to label an entire gender because of the actions of a few, is irrational, which is why people don’t take this hashtag seriously.
The feeling of being marginalized is self imposed. It certainly wasn’t the intention. We are all individuals and we will always find something that causes us to pull away or not participate, including the opinions of hurt souls. When people spew their passion/disdain please understand they are still in healing process. Until you have been disrespected in such a horrible fashion it’s very hard to understand it. I don’t take things personally, or read more into what is actually being said. I’ve sat in a room, more than once, with men bashing and being disrespectful to women. I sat and played devil’s advocate because in most instances you get what you give, but we selfishly want it to only be flaws in the other individual. Nonetheless, don’t take it personally and next time just chime in when you feel the need. Any man could have offered support.
As a victime of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault, I am not sure if i agree that men 9and women) who perpetrate these attrocities are suffering from a disease. I think that is a copout. What they are, is an EFFIN parasite that should be exterminated. Sex is the easiest thing to get in theis world. To have to resort to force is ridiculous.
The conversation needs to continue regarding the blatant disrespect that women (and men) receive. Just yesterday, I was approached by a man asking if he could be my friend. When I declined, he went on to tell me that I need one friend in life…blah…blah…blah. You see that’s disrespect and WE are tired of it.
I agree Maliyka. Sexual predators don’t have a disease. Sickle cell anemia is a disease. An individual afflicted with this has no say so about it, like most diseases. With this particular disease one is born with it. So to say a rapist has a disease is a horrible excuse.