Not long after a 22-year-old man with a grudge against women went on a killing spree on a California college campus, women took to social media to share their personal stories of grief and objectification with the hashtag #YesAllWomen. Days later, there are now hundreds of thousands of sobering tweets, many of which highlight the sexual assault, harassment or verbal abuse that women have experienced in their lives.
It's illuminating to see how far this hashtag thread has gone. The most poignant statements may be from women revealing stories of rape or unwanted advances, but a discussion has also emerged about the biases and sexist stereotypes that women face every day when they try to be assertive at work, balance their career and family, or simply lead others without being called "demanding."
The hashtag seemingly began as an effort to show that while not all men are sexist criminals, all women have been judged by their looks, treated like objects and forced to navigate a world where fears and vulnerabilities are very real. Where the conversation has gone, however, reminds us that the stereotypes yielding double standards for women at work are connected to the demeaning treatment they receive elsewhere, and that changing one will help to change the other.
Here, a few tweets from the thread:
#YesAllWomen because my emotions and intuition don't affect my ability to lead
— Sharon Ogwang (@ShazzeO) May 27, 2014
We don't need to teach brilliant women how to lead men. We need to call out the immaturity of men who refuse to follow women. #YesAllWomen
— Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) May 27, 2014
#YesAllWomen because little girls who know what they want and lead by example are addressed as "BOSSY."
— Maegan Montoto (@mseaaa) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because society has taught men to lead and women to follow without uttering the word no.
— ealperin (@ealperin) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because if you know what you want, you're "demanding" and if you know how to lead, you're "bossy".
— Vicky Kavanagh (@VickyWrites) May 25, 2014
Remember when my teacher told me that I was bossy and then told the boy next to me that he had leadership skills? #YesAllWomen
— Maggie Knight (@LanieDoe) May 27, 2014
#YesAllWomen Because the root of much cultural violence against women is misogyny in churches and lack of women's ordained leadership.
— Jeri Gray-Reneberg (@norcalpastor) May 26, 2014
Taking leadership positions and being doubted simply because "having a family may get in the way of doing a proper job." #YesAllWomen
— KENDALL Fitzgerald (@fitztobetied) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because characteristics like leadership and strength are still deemed masculine
— Jihane Bergaoui (@jbergaoui) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because Leadership characteristics such as intelligence, creativity and enthusiasm are not attributes brought about by hormones
— Maegen Wallaker (@MaegenWallaker) May 25, 2014