Sexualized violence is a problem for women and they are expressing their experiences using the hashtag #YesAllWomen on Twitter and other platforms. Some of the expressions are truly troubling. Some of them express insights into the truly pervasive and casual nature of the sexual stereotypes and stigmas that women are affected by each and every day. And some of them are drawing the fire from men who feel the need to defend themselves against what they perceive is an assault.
It’s being missed by many though that the bringing up subjects and pointing out times that sexual injustice have occurred aren’t enough. The men this is being expressed to need to listen, and listen well. Having someone tell you that they have experienced harassment is not the same as being told that you have harassed someone. It does mean that you may be able to help combat that harassment though.
A lot of talk has been going on surrounding the case of Elliot Rodger. Rodger was a troubled and violent young man who harbored deeply disturbed sentiments. It has been reported elsewhere that Rodger was a member of a few online message boards and discussion forums. He was not the most prolific poster nor was the content of what he posted the most inflammatory or sensational. From what I have seen though, Rodger’s posts went largely without contradiction and in some cases received support from the troubled community.
This is a problem. This is something that listening to #YesAllWomen can help work to change.
The men need to be doing a better job of talking to and teaching other men that sexist behavior is not okay. The fraternal association and of men against women in some areas will not be affected by apathy and the expression of other men turning their backs and saying, “Not all men are like those.”
The men that listen to women saying that they have, for example, experienced sexual assault just to have a police officer ask them, “Well, what were you wearing?” and respond by saying, “Well, that’s not me,” need to do more than simply not contribute to the problem. They need to talk to their friends. They need to educate their sons.
That’s why it’s important that men listen to what these women are saying about their experience. It’s important that we learn from it so that we can be better and help our brothers and sons to live by a better standard than our predecessors.