From Tweets to the Streets: #YesAllWomen Actions Planned in Major Cities
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In the recent days after the Isla Vista shootings, women have used various social media tactics to raise public consciousness around systematic misogyny — ultimately illustrating that the violence inflicted by Elliot Rodger was not simply the act of a lone madman, but part of the societal oppression they face on a daily basis.
Created to show that while ‘not all men’ commit violent acts toward women, all women have experienced violent acts by men, #YesAllWomen has garnered the most attention with more than one million people using the hashtag to share their thoughts and experiences with gendered violence. In addition to #YesAllWomen, a new tumblr page was formed to collect stories of violence inflicted on women who reject sexual advances. Called When Women Refuse, the page shares photos and links to news stories of these women — many of whom are no longer alive to speak for themselves.
While this online activism shows no signs of slowing, some organizers believe this is a pivotal moment to let women’s voices be heard out loud in the streets. That’s why organizers in five cities — New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle — have quickly organized #YesAllWomen actions to be held Friday and Saturday.
“What's being tapped into is really a deep, profound well of fury and pain, and I think this is very important to have come out on the Internet — the hashtag #YesAllWomen has given voice to that,” said Sunsara Taylor of Stop Patriarchy, a national movement against all forms of degradation of women, and the group behind the NYC and SF events. “But it’s also extremely important that people manifest in the streets. That this feeling is not allowed to be defused. That this actually becomes the motivation for people to look at the nature of the society we live in to confront the fact that there is a war on women. And to find each other and to find our voices and find our outrage and find new community and resistance actually in the streets. So we have the feeling that it’s time to go from the social media and the tweets and into the street and make this felt.”
Taylor said that because society frequently tells women who experience violence that they put themselves in that position, women often understand what happened to them as an individual problem and remain silent. But as the recent activism has inspired women to speak out, it is illustrating that the problem is a structural one.
“A lot of women who have buried or tried to contain the trauma and the pain and the horrors that they have been through and that those who they know have been through — a lot of that is erupting and coming to the surface,” Taylor said. “And it’s absolutely important that that be given vocal, visual expression and that that be a way to challenge and wake others up that they should no longer go along either and they should join in.”
Stop Patriarchy is focused on simply getting people out to the actions to meet and engage with one another. Signs and statements are also welcomed. The crowd can then determine if they want to have a moment of silence, have a space to speak out and/or take to the streets.
While violence against women is deeply ingrained in our society, Taylor said, it is by no means permanent — and taking to the streets is one of the most important steps in organizing for change.