Hashtags have developed into an integral part of modern social life, with hashtags ranging from #weloveonedirection to #bringbackourgirls. Though a month ago a new hashtag rose up the ranks to claim the attention of the [social media] world.


And while #YesAllWomen has become the equivalent of a 70-year-old in social media years, I am writing about this for one reason – shock. How could such an important, powerful, emotionally charged hashtag receive so little media attention? While I may have read a couple or so articles, my news-feeds were in no way flooded with #YesAllWomen discussions, questions or support.

#YesAllWomen is a hashtag that picked up speed in tweets in the form of “#YesAllWomen have been verbally harassed at least once on the street” or “#YesAllWomen have been the butt of a misogynistic joke at least once in their lives.” It then developed into a hashtag that accompanies statements about women’s lives and issues that are important to a lot of them, about issues that are ignored by the media and the world instead of giving them proper attention. This then developed into “#YesAllWomen because …”, which in itself is an indicator of the responses to the hashtag. The development from a simple hashtag to tweets that attempts to explain why the hashtag is being used, is an indicator of how the world received and reacted to a simple set of letters in a virtual reality (which makes me question, what would happen if we actually took action in the real world? Scary, huh?!)

Before attempting to discuss the reactions and responses, let us first look at some of the tweets with this hashtag, let us give them the attention they deserve;

@sarReichie: “#YesAllWomen because how often does a man text his friend to say that the got home safe?
@TessaKerlin: “Because my hormones make me an ineffective leader and a man’s hormones absolve him of rape #YesAllWomen” 
@_SwavyMami” “#YesAllWomen because I am so tired of women having to learn rules for safety when men should be learning rules for behavior.
@DreamFifteen: “#YesAllWomen because I was taught to scream “fire” instead of  “rape” because it increases the chances of someone coming to help.

Other examples attempt to explain and defend the hashtag, which is sad – it’s sad that women have to explain that they don’t hate men, that they are just expressing themselves, whenever they use a simple hashtag.

@cwodtke: “If you think #YesAllWomen is about hating men, you haven’t read the stream. It’s about hating injustice. It’s about hating living in fear.
@allisonastorino: “If you think #YesAllWomen is an attack on men, you’re not listening to women. Which is kind of the problem.
@AdelaideKane: “Not ALL men harass women. But ALL women have, at some point, been harassed by men. Food for thought. #YesAllWomen” 
@HilmParisRay: “#YesAllWomen because the point of this isn’t to shame men, it’s to empower women. And yet, so many guys are still making this about them.” 

The fact that these women have been put on the defensive, whether in anticipation of responses or due to previous responses that have been already received, is a travesty. The fact that they find themselves having to reply to #NotAllMen instead of finding more men using #YesAllWomen is sad.

#YesAllWomen because instead of going on the defensive, you should try to understand. If you’re not part of the problem, if you don’t do these things, then we’re on the same side. If you do, then making you uncomfortable is the least we can do. Why is it that women either love men or hate them? Why can’t society understand that when a woman says that she is frustrated that men harass her, she would appreciate another man standing up with her, not for her, but with her, saying, “I’m frustrated that you were harassed too,” instead of claiming discomfort or feeling “victimized”.

If you, as a man, are feeling victimized by a hashtag in a virtual world, imagine how victimized a woman is feeling as she walks the streets, wondering if she’s going to get home safely. Imagine how she feels when you get paid twice as much as she does for the same job. It may not be your fault, but it sure as hell is not hers. Imagine how she feels when she has to spend her money paying for phone calls she made while she was walking down that dark alleyway, the phone calls she made to make sure someone knew where she was, to make sure someone hears her scream if she is attacked, to make sure someone saves her instead of blaming her.

If you are not her oppressor, then be her ally – attempt to understand her. The least you can do is read the hashtag, understand what she goes through. Empathize. Put yourself in her shoes and imagine what you would feel like. Stop thinking about yourself and think about her for one second. This is by no means a piece asking men to save women because “women are the weaker sex”, this is a loud statement telling people, men and women, society, to become these women’s allies, support them as they fight, don’t fight for them, but don’t fight against them.

#YesAllWomen is more than just a hashtag, and it deserves more of your time than a mere article can fulfill.

Picture Credit: We Heart It

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