This weekend, I was overcome with emotion while reading through a popular twitter hashtag, #YesAllWomen. It caught my eye on Saturday afternoon and quickly drew me away from the other story fighting for worldwide trending status -- Kimye's wedding. Needless to say, I was easily redirected.
I began scrolling through the tweets, and one by one, I was more moved and affected.
Shoutout to all the women who can't participate in #YesAllWomen because they still have to deal with their abusers daily
— Sporks Pantalones (@sporks) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because we live in such a sad world that a hashtag has to be created for sexual harassment to be taken seriously.
— Jillian Clare (@jillianclare) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen because the world told my rapist that he isn't a rapist.
— Jessi Smiles (@jessismiles__) May 26, 2014
#YesAllWomen Because even if I do have a legit reason to be angry I must still be "hormonal and on my period."
— Scarletstrawb3rry (@Scarletr0seTTV) May 26, 2014
Some women are polite because they're afraid of being hurt, not because they're interested in you. #YesAllWomen
— justjules (@sandvig_julie) May 25, 2014
#yesallwomen because rapists are always innocent until proved guilty but rape victims are always guilty of lying until proved to be innocent
— Dawn Mckenna (@Subimaginati) May 26, 2014
Guys. It's not an indictment or a competition. It's women expressing themselves and the most important thing to do is listen. #YesAllWomen
— Jeff Wild (@jiffywild) May 26, 2014
Because no means no but now it also means someone might kill you for rejecting them #YesAllWomen
— Pax Paxochka (@Paxochka) May 25, 2014
Hooked, I began retweeting and favoriting like a maniac. They went on like that forever. I followed the thread to a local Los Angeles news page where I discovered a rejected, self-involved young man had initiated a UCSB shooting of random young women and the men who held their affections.
The #YesAllWomen was an outcry in response to the young man, Elliot Rodger's, entitlement, his disdain and his violent insistence that he deserved the presence, the love and the affection of women simply because he was a man.
One click led to a news article on the shooting.
Another led to the gunman's YouTube channel, where I watched as he revealed his thoughts and intentions recorded weeks earlier. He was clearly disturbed but more importantly, entitled. He ranted about how wonderful he was and how no girl in his life would give him a chance.
He went on about how he deserved love and affection, based solely on the fact that he drove a nice car, traveled the world, attended college and was handsome. Apparently no one told him Ted Bundy held the same resume.
His thoughts became increasingly derogatory and disdainful toward women as a whole... and eventually led him on a violent rampage.
Rather than looking within to see what he might be missing, or pursuing healthy means of conflict resolution (means that would have required humility to explore), he came up with a plot to dominate and punish any woman within his reach.
He picked up a gun and began to shoot.
Women took to twitter, not as victims, but as thoughtful, brave, inspiring, honest vessels carrying messages of outrage, frustration and anger at being treated as if their love and affection, or even their bodies, were things to be owned and violated by any man with an inclination. As a result, I was inspired.
I am inspired by the courage it takes for a rape victim to speak out, for a woman who has been walking afraid of speaking her truth, in its entirety, to voice it.
This tragedy resulted in an outcry involving discourse about how women are trained not to speak up, not to be honest and not to own their experiences as a result of sharing the world with men.
The #YesAllWomen trend indicates that women are people, just like men, and as such, should be heard and taken seriously.
I used to be a feminist, proudly... I stopped at some point after college, largely because I didn't want to be angry anymore. I also didn't wish for my experience to be tied to that of a man's, as a reaction to what he was or wasn't doing properly.
What the hashtag, this weekend, reminded me of is the ways women are taught, cajoled, forced, nagged and beaten into conforming every day. The voices of the women are honest and sometimes heartbreaking.
I, therefore, applaud their courage, honesty, conviction and vulnerability, even in the face of detractors who retorted with misogyny or worse.
Even today, it takes so much courage for women to speak openly about their experiences. The least we could do as a society is to listen without judgment, condemnation or defense... so I urge you, even if it is uncomfortable, for the sake of us all... #JustListen...
Follow Danai P. Maraire on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@attagirlent