Students march on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara during a candlelight vigil held to honor the victims of Friday night's mass shooting on Saturday, May 24, 2014, in Isla Vista, Calif.
In the wake of the Elliot Rodger shooting rampage, many women have turned to Twitter to share their experiences of harassment, fear and sexual assault under the hashtag#YesAllWomen.
Rodger's premeditated killing spree in Isla Vista, California, claimed the lives of seven people — including his own — with several more injured. He killed two women outside a sorority house, but according to Rodger himself he had planned to "slaughter" several more. Rodger's YouTube videos and 147-page "manifesto" create a portrait of a lonely misogynist who felt entitled to the attentions of women for no other reason than his own perceived intelligence and status.
"You girls have never been attracted to me," Rodger said in his final video. "I don’t know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman."
Although Rodger is obviously an extreme case, his sense of male sexual entitlement resonated widely with women. The hashtag #YesAllWomen was born and became the label under which women shared their experiences with male entitlement. According to Hashtags.org, #YesAllWomen — which didn't exist before May 24 — has been attached to 1.2 million tweets, peaking at 61,500 tweets on May 25. (Topsy pegs the number of tweets at just over 1 million.)
The tag originated on May 24 in a Twitter conversation involving writer Annie Cardi (@anniecardi) and another woman who has since changed her account to private to protect her identity, Cardi told Mashable.
@gildedspine @Ceilidhann Sounds like something that needs to get shared right now. #YesAllWomen
— annie cardi (@anniecardi) May 24, 2014
Twitter created an animated heatmap of the #YesAllWomen hashtag, showing how it progressed since its genesis on May 24 and spread throughout the weekend. The hashtag had worldwide reach, with most of the tweets concentrated in the U.S. and U.K., but saw activity in many other countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia and Qatar.
Through the hashtag, women have shared everything from stories of inappropriate workplace behavior to reports of rape.
#yesallwomen because "I have a boyfriend" is more likely to get a guy to back off than "no", because they respect other men more than women
— ZAmmi (@ZAmmi) May 26, 2014
Because in about 30 states, rapists whose victims choose to keep the baby can get parental rights, like weekend visitation. WTF #YesAllWomen
— WonderWoman (@AlsoWonderWoman) May 26, 2014
#yesallwomen because apparently the clothes I wear is a more valid form of consent than the words I say
— Witch Bitch (@ghirah1m) May 26, 2014
a "cool story babe, now make me a sandwich" shirt doesn't break the school dress code. a girl's bra strap does. #yesallwomen
— Yes All Women (@yesaIIwomen) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because I'm not being "too sensitive" when rape jokes make me uncomfortable
— dj gemini (@incredibabe) May 26, 2014
When a woman makes a video, most comments are about tearing apart her looks. Or if they'd "do" her. With a man, almost none. #YesAllWomen
— Felicia Day (@feliciaday) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because even a taped confession admitting to raping me wasn't enough to put him in jail.
— Jessi Smiles (@jessismiles__) May 26, 2014
The cops who asked me "Well, what were you wearing?" when I reported an attack and attempted rape. #YesAllWomen
— Aimee Mann (@aimeemann) May 25, 2014
"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them." - Margaret Atwood #yesallwomen
— Jen Kirkman (@JenKirkman) May 25, 2014
If I’m losing followers because I retweeted some #YesAllWomen posts, then good riddance.
— Veronica Belmont (@Veronica) May 25, 2014
Because women are taught to carry our keys like a weapon in case we're attacked in a parking lot. #YesAllWomen
— annie cardi (@anniecardi) May 24, 2014
Many men joined in, tweeting with the hashtag in support of women and condemning their experiences of sexual inequality.
Dear men: women don't owe you a goddamn thing. That's right, not even a smile. #YesAllWomen
— Dean Garlick (@dean_garlick) May 26, 2014
Twitter ruined my life but it has really justified its existence in the last 36 hours with #YesAllWomen.
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) May 25, 2014
The #yesallwomen hashtag is filled with hard, true, sad and angry things. I can empathise & try to understand & know I never entirely will.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) May 25, 2014
Some men responded to #YesAllWomen with another hashtag, #NotAllMen. The tag has existed for a while, and it's usually used in counterpoints to feminist arguments. However, in the wake of the shooting, tweets with #NotAllMen are more likely to be in support of #YesAllWomen than arguing against feminism.
#YesAllWomen know it's #NotAllMen but when you don't speak up about sexism and violence against women your silence condones it.
— Julie (@julieklippnich) May 26, 2014
RT: #YesAllWomen Because so many men say "#NotAllMen do that" but almost NEVER say, "Hey, man, don't do that!"
— Jean Johnson (@JeanJAuthor) May 26, 2014
#Notallmen understand that it’s not all about them.
"What men have to really understand is what we are doing is connecting the dots — the acceptance of everyday misogyny," Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), told Mashable. "This young man was able to express all of this misogyny, and people sort of rolled their eyes and shrugged it off. The point of the hashtag is that ... it doesn't take much for a sense of entitlement translate into violence. We see that directly in rape."