#YesAllWomen and #NotAllWomen and #NotAllMen

#YesAllWomen has been trending on Twitter the past few days.  Intrigued by its origin, while I was ‘working’ yesterday, I took the time to read about the hashtag and articles claiming it both asinine and powerful.  As always, I feel the truth is somewhere in the middle.

First things first: no one should ever speak on behalf of a whole group of people (by age, gender, religion, race, etc.).  Call it generalizing, stereotyping, whatever you will, but any way you slice it is wrong.  The opinions and perspectives of every person on earth are limited to their personal experiences.  I’m not discounting anything that any woman has experienced to make her feel or behave a certain way, but we cannot generalize ourselves as all fearing men.  As a victim of sexual harassment and stalking myself, I have been in situations where I truly fear individual men, yes, but I’ve been lucky to surround myself with caring, loving men in most areas of my life.  There are good and bad in every group of people on earth.  The simple phrasing of the tag, including “all” women, is an overstatement, and I’m sure there are women who do not agree with what the tag is trying to accomplish.

Second, I don’t like that this hashtag/controversy was borne of the misery of a premeditated mass murder.  The California killer clearly had deep emotional and psychological issues and despite not having read his manifesto myself, I’ve heard that quite a bit of it involved hatred of women.  While this is very unacceptable, we must remember that the shooter was mentally ill.  In no way does his written word reflect the thought of all men, and in no way should all women take his words as such.  

I appreciate what #YesAllWomen is trying to do.  As a self-proclaimed feminist, I love the idea of women taking a stand and letting their voices be heard by empowering themselves to reveal reasons why they fear men.  Plenty of times I have felt uncomfortable and fearful in the presence of men, from small catcalls on the street to a legitimate stalking case.  However, I have been fearful so many other times that had nothing to do with men… when I thought I dove too deep into my lake and wouldn’t make it back up in time, at the very top of a roller coaster when I was sure I’d fall off and die, when my dog ran into the middle of the street… there are other things in life that women fear besides men. Period.

Why don’t we focus on what we, women as an entire group, can accomplish?  Why waste our time complaining about social norms (on social media nonetheless) and instead fight to change it?  Why can’t we understand that not all men are wrong, awful, uterus-hating beasts unable to defend our equality?

Let’s harness our power, energy, and perseverance to see what we can truly achieve.

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