More frequently than ever, newspaper headlines scream of violence on school campuses. From the massacre at Virginia Tech to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings are becoming increasingly prevalent. Parents are worried and families of victims continue to suffer. Americans begin to wonder, is anything being done?
Just last week, another massacre became headline news as the “Isla Vista Killer,” a young man named Elliot Rodger, killed six students and wounded another 13. Thanks to a heavily detailed journal left by the killer, the motive was clear; Rodger wrote that he sought retribution against “all of the popular kids and young couples for the crime of having a better life.” Committed by a social outcast of society, on the surface, the massacre appears to be a crime of jealousy. However, the journal illustrates that there was also underlying misogyny motivating the attacks: “My hatred of the female gender could grow no stronger. It was too much… I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender.” Amid the mourning and investigation, a new reaction against the crime has emerged – a campaign for revolution.
Storming Twitter and other social media outlets, angry feminists are speaking out against what they claim is a rising misogynistic culture. Elliot Rodger proved to be the final straw in a mounting wave of frustration. Now, the hashtag “#YesAllWomen” leads the campaign against sexism and discrimination. Prominent political figures and celebrities are joining the viral movement, demanding that change be instated to protect women from violent men.
One of the largest discussions arising from this campaign concerns sexual harassment and the perception of women as objects rather than human beings. Feminists argue that the saying “sex sells” is accurate evidence of society’s obsession with female sexuality. According to leaders of the movement, this increasingly sexual mentality encourages harassment, violence, and rape against women of all ages. Interestingly enough, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that the number of annual assaults on women has actually decreased by 50%. The fight against misogyny will continue, but extremists should know that there has been progress in the war.
But of course, to every revolution, there is a counterrevolution – #NotAllMen are misogynist serial rapists. In the campaign for women, harsh, blanket statements about the male sex have been made, and now the tide is turning. Soraya Chemaly, a Twitter-using feminist, cleverly used her 140 characters to rectify the two opinions: “#NotAllMen practice violence against women but #YesAllWomen live with the threat of male violence. Every. Single. Day. All over the world.”
Nearly a week after the initial massacre, the activism continues; most recently, men and women have come together as allies. A new hashtag, “#AllMenCan”, has quietly arisen to recognize the needs of both parties. Instead of focusing on what needs to be done, this trending topic has shifted the conversation towards a plan of action: how can we resolve misogyny in America? The essential message behind this new hashtag is that all men can make a difference by choosing to not tolerate sexism and gender discrimination. Michael Skolnik, an entrepreneur and activist for civil rights, tweeted, “#AllMenCan call out other men when they make sexist remarks… especially when women are not around.” But this campaign looks towards the future too – all men can educate their sons and daughters to respect women’s rights.
In truth, it is a pity that this conversation is not occurring naturally in households across the nation. But if a hashtag is needed to initiate the change feminists demand, then progress is being made. As long as proper action is taken when protests are shared, this world will see change from Twitter after all.
“Frequency of Sexual Assult.” RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. RAINN, 2009. Web. 29 May 2014.
Rodger, Elliot. “The Manifesto of Elliot Rodger.” New York Times 25 May 2014: New York Times. Web. 29 May 2014.