In the aftermath of the shooting rampage that killed seven people near UC Santa Barbara last Friday, it was reported that Elliot Rodger, the 22- year-old suspect in the mass killing, was a frequent poster on online “men’s rights” forums. He had also left behind a 141 page manifesto detailing his feelings of bitterness, loneliness, and hatred for women, as well as his fantasy of interning all women in concentration camps and slowly starving them to death.
“You girls have never been attracted to me,” he said in the final video on his YouTube channel. “I don’t know why you’ve never been attracted to me, but I’ll punish you all for it. It’s an injustice—a crime. I’m the perfect guy, yet you throw yourself at all these obnoxious men instead of me, a supreme gentleman… If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you.”
While some men on the Internet expressed sympathy for Rodger, or attempted to deflect the conversation surrounding the shooting by blaming his actions on the lack of adequate health care resources or lax gun control laws, many women on Twitter saw the shooting as symptomatic of the larger cultural problem of violence against women, and the way society teaches men like Rodger to feel entitled to women’s bodies. The conversation spawned #YesAllWomen, a twist on the male-led #NotAllMen hashtag that circulated last year in response to feminist complaints of sexism:
Because they harass you, then lie about you, then stalk you, then threaten you, then say: “But why won’t you talk to me? #YesAllWomen
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) May 25, 2014
Because somehow people still use the word ‘feminist’ as an insult, as if asking for equal respect is a disgusting idea. #yesallwomen
— Hannah Berry (@streakofpith) May 25, 2014
Because the same “harmless” misogynist rhetoric that fills up my inbox every day also fills a mass murderer’s manifesto. #YesAllWomen
— Lindy West (@thelindywest) May 25, 2014
#YesAllWomen because if or when we are brave enough to share traumatic experiences, we are accused of lying or attention-seeking
— AB (@bottrill) May 25, 2014
because to be safe I met a bf in a coffee shop to break up with him #yesallwomen
— Katha Pollitt (@KathaPollitt) May 25, 2014
“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” – Margaret Atwood #YesAllWomen
— Lauren V (@Lollypodxo) May 25, 2014
#YesAllWomen applies to this woman, remembering my ex with raised fist telling me how much I deserved to get punched in the face.
— rachelsklar (@rachelsklar) May 25, 2014
Because the friendzone is the fictional exile of the entitled. “Sexual partner” is not a woman’s default mode. #yesallwomen
— Harrison Mooney (@HarrisonMooney) May 25, 2014
#YesAllWomen because I once let a drunk guy walk me home because my ex was following me and I figured I had to choose the lesser threat.
— Jess Zimmerman (@j_zimms) May 25, 2014
Because every single woman I know has a story about a man feeling entitled to access to her body. Every. Single. One. #YesAllWomen
— Emily (@emilyhughes) May 24, 2014
Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, a handful of men on Twitter apparently felt their gender was under attack after #YesAllWomen started trending on Saturday. Some felt compelled to defend themselves by hijacking the hashtag, tweeting #NotAllMen in response:
I’m sure the whole point of #NotAllMen is that those of us with common sense don’t appreciate being lumped in with the rotten apples.
— S. A. Hunt (@authorsahunt) May 25, 2014
I don’t get this #NotAllMen thing. Did any reasonable person say that it *was* all men?
— Devin (@SemanticV0id) May 25, 2014
— Zero Chill Larry (@LarryTheSusLord) May 25, 2014
You don’t get to shun me for my physical disabilities and then expect me to empathise with you now ladies. #NotAllMen owe you that courtesy.
— Smuggled Budgies (@EclipseNq) May 25, 2014
— w i n t e r (@exhumes) May 25, 2014
Yet feminists on Twitter were quick to shut them down:
— DaynaR (@DaynaR) May 25, 2014
— Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) May 25, 2014
Screengrab via KRON 4/YouTube