National Edition

How a killing spree has turned the nation to a conversation about violence against women

Published: Friday, May 30 2014 4:45 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, May 30 2014 6:39 a.m. MDT

Rinda Sutrarhada, 20, writes the name of one of the victims from Fridays' shootings on a remembrance wall across the street from the IV Deli Mart, where part of the mass killings took place, on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 in the Isla Vista area near Goleta, Calif. Sheriff's officials said Elliot Rodger, 22, went on a rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbing three people to death at his apartment before shooting and killing three more in a crime spree through a nearby neighborhood.

Chris Carlson, Associated Press

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Since Elliott Rodger's killing of six people in Santa Barbara over the weekend, media outlets have focused on the killer's 137-page manifesto, in which he narrates his outrage at women, whom he primarily blamed because they didn't want to date him.

Thousands on Twitter have responded with #yesallwomen, a hashtag campaign addressing the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault against women, Vox reported.

#Yesallwomen is an allusion to "not all men," a common rebuttal in gender discussion used (most often by men) to remind people who not all men are perpetrators of typical behavior, especially in aggression or sexism toward women. Since the shooting, women on the Internet have been tweeting about harassment, sexual assault, rape, feminism and women's rights, using the hashtag #Yesallwomen. The hashtag has served as an outlet for women to "express their solidarity in response to Rodger's hate-filled rants," CNN reported.

In other words, the hashtag is what many women are using to say that while not all men are sexist or misogynistic, all women have experienced sexual assault and harassment, or the fear of it, because of their gender. Here are a few examples of how women have used the hashtag:

"#Yesallwomen because I am already seriously thinking about putting my daughter in self-defense classes. She's 4," one tweeter wrote.

"Because when we say 'no,' we have to consider the repercussions of that. In every context," another tweet said.

"'I have a boyfriend' is the easiest way to get a man to leave you alone. Because he respects another man more than you. ," said one tweet.

#Yesallwomen "has produced over a million tweets, and they are by turns moving, enraging, astute, sorrowful, and terrifying. Even though most of the tweets do not directly mourn the people Rodger killed, the tweets accumulate into a kind of memorial, a stern demand for a more just society," a blogger for The New Yorker wrote.

Misplaced ideals of masculinity can also be harmful to men's image of themselves, according to The Mask You Live In, a project dedicated to denouncing harmful messages of masculinity in the media. There is an "equation of manhood with desirability and sexual prowess," writes The Atlantic's Noah Berlatsky. "Being a virgin wasn't painful because of the lack of sex or the lack of companionship. It was frustrating because of the sense that I was doing it wrong; that if I didn't have a girlfriend, I was, like that old Marvel character, Man-Thing, a misshapen mockery of a man."

Berlatsky noted: "Misogyny shaped Rodger's view of women. But it also shaped his self-loathing view of himself and his masculinity, or lack thereof. The stigma against male virgins is something that men like Rodger...internalize, and is, in itself, a form of misogyny...As long as masculinity is based in hatred of and fear of femininity, it will be expressed in violence — against men, against gay people, and against the marginalized. And most of all, it will continue to motivate violence against women."

amcdonald@deseretnews

@amymcdonald89

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