It was summer in rural Bangladesh when she dropped out of high school because sex traffickers were targeting her region and kidnappings became rampant. As a UNICEF agent, not much older than her, I never forgot that choice between education and safety. In the United States, the pornification of women permeates popular culture and media. It threatens the safety and socialization of young girls and women. This over sexualized objectification is an inner violence against the securities and dignities of females. Across the globe in India, brothers wait vigilantly to ensure their sisters are safe after work because rape is at an all time high. Meanwhile in Europe, a woman frets over her appearance in the workplace. She doesn’t have the luxury of solely being judged on performance, unlike her male colleagues. They have not endured the psychological bullying about weight and beauty that she grew up with.
There are as many shades of fallen female equality and belittled physical, economic and social dignities as there are women on this planet. These stories are raindrops in the ocean of reasons why the rent for occupying a space called female is higher than that of male counterparts with the same cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Every woman has experiences to color the picture of gender based bias and violence.
The equality, security and dignity of women is a concern for both sexes. It affects the economic, political and social progress of our global community. Parallel to racism, it is also not only an issue for the victimized, but a reflection of our tolerance and maturity as a civilization.
On May 24 2014, a man killed at least 6 people and injured 13 more in Isla Vista, California. Before his murderous rampage, in written and YouTube tirades he blamed his misery on the indifference women had shown him. What became eerie in these confessions was not just the insight into the mind of a killer, but a faint outline of mainstream culture was beginning to illuminate. Thereafter, the public looked to their experiences to further color that faint line until it was opaque. That coloring was #YesAllWoman. In a sweeping response, social media began a discourse on women’s rights. In two days, 1.2 million Tweets had been recorded. #YesAllWomen is another seminal example of digital activism and social media’s potential to serve humanity. Mobilizing grassroots movements at mass scales can now happen in a flash. Advocacy and awareness spread more quickly, thus influencing culture and political change faster than ever.
The conversation is relentless. Women are eager to share. The boiling pot exploded. Here are some Tweets that provide color to this complex global issue.
“When a man says no in this culture, it’s the end if the discussion. When a woman says no, it’s the beginning of a negotiation” #YesAllWomen
— Zoe 又 (@PowerViolince) May 28, 2014
#YesAllWomen because I was taught to scream “fire” instead of “rape” because it increases the chances of someone coming to help.
— Dream Fifteen (@DreamFifteen) May 28, 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
The cops who asked me “Well, what were you wearing?” when I reported an attack and attempted rape. #YesAllWomen
— Aimee Mann (@aimeemann) May 25, 2014
Because I now wear shorts under dresses in crowded bars after being groped and even penetrated by unseen hands. #YesAllWomen
— Laura (@LauraLikesWine) May 25, 2014
Because men don’t text eachother that they got home safe. #YesAllWomen
— Addie Wagenknecht (@wheresaddie) May 26, 2014
Because 1 in 5 women going to college will be sexually assaulted #YesAllWomen
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) May 27, 2014
Why does the suggestion that half the human race be treated with respect by the other half arouse such fury in the latter half?#YesAllWomen
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) May 27, 2014
Because a lot of you are reading these and thinking “ugh yeah, we get it. Calm down.” #YesAllWomen
— Christine Nangle (@nanglish) May 25, 2014
Photograph courtesy of SheKnows