I'm fascinated by the #yesallwomen movement that is happening on social media. Sadly it had to come about as the result of a tragedy, but I guess it's often that positive change is powered by negative events. I was chatting with a friend this morning about how many women we know who have experienced threats or violence of a sexual nature. In fact, we found ourselves hard-pressed to think of more than a few friends who don't have a first hand story or stories to share. That's not okay.
I had an unwelcome sexual encounter at eighteen, and for more than ten years I "accepted" that I had put myself in that situation and that I should have known better. Let me say that again. It was more than ten years that I blamed myself. It was only recently, in my thirties, that I was able to say to a friend, "This thing happened to me. It was wrong. And it wasn't my fault."
Yes, all women have the right to be safe and respected. Yes, all women should know they are blameless when someone attacks us with words or actions. Yes, all women should be able to walk to their cars without holding their keys as weapons, or in my case home from the subway with my police-issue steel pen in my hand, ready for use. Yes, all women should be able to get dressed in the morning in whatever makes her feel beautiful without fear of inviting violence. Yes, all women. YES, ALL WOMEN.
There are two things I want you to do today.
1. Read the amazing posts that have moved me so profoundly this morning. Here are some highlights, or keep up with the live hashtag feed.
Because women are taught to hate themselves if men reject them, and men are taught to hate women if women reject them. #YesAllWomen— Kendall (@KendallMcK) May 25, 2014
For every single time a guy put me down for being smart/funny/loud and called me "intimidating" instead of "awesome." #YesAllWomen— Cassy (@cassyhough) May 27, 2014
#YesAllWomen because there's never been a debate over whether or not a man means No when he says it.— Casey (@pari_passu) May 27, 2014
Because if you want to hurt me, you'll just tell me I'm fat or a "4," since being fat & ugly are the worse things girls can be. #YesAllWomen— Julie Klausner (@julieklausner) May 25, 2014
#yesallwomen because we so often preface "i'm not interested..." with "i'm sorry" we apologize for not being interested WE APOLOGIZE— priya (@thewordy) May 25, 2014
2. Until this movement inspires actual change, we have to do what we can to protect ourselves. Kitestring is a "safety app," or more accurately a service, that will alert your in-case-of-emergency person if you don't tell it that you're ok at a designated time. For instance, if I am heading home from hanging with friends at 11:15 and I know the subway ride and walk home should take 45 minutes, I can pre-set Kitestring to check on me via text in 45 minutes. If I don't respond to the text with an "ok," it will alert whoever I've told it to (parents, roommate, bestie, etc.). What's great about it is that I wouldn't have to hit "help" or make a call. It requires no action at all. Yes, all women: Get. This. Now.
Yes, all women know that not all men are those men. Guy readers, check out the #notallmen conversation to join in this movement.