Fear, #YesAllWomen, and Threats

We’re all familiar and, hopefully, sickened by Elliot Rodger’s killing spree last week.

I’m not necessarily going to talk about that.

He blamed his breakdown on women for not fulfilling his sexual desires and for throwing themselves at other men. Most likely men who wouldn’t stab or gun them down in a lackadaisical fashion, but I’m not necessarily going to talk about that, either.

Let’s talk about the hashtag #YesAllWomen and what happened when I used it.

#YesAllWomen is Twitter hashtag that quickly gained popularity after the shootings. The idea is that not every man acts in such a threatening manner, but yes, all women have or do feel fear based on the actions of men. Not every man, but #YesAllWomen.

Let me make myself clear. I’m not bashing men. I would never bash men. I have been extremely fortunate in growing up with a wonderful father, an awesome brother, and good male friends who have taught me the goodness, strength, and value of men. The good men I know far outnumber the bad, and by saying that I support women, I am in no way saying that I don’t support men. However, it’s sad and very true that nearly every woman I know has felt threatened at one time or another, and often by men. #YesAllWomen is a place to share that.

My tweets? Two. Two tweets.

The first:  #YesAllWomen Because I wrote a novella about an abused woman and received heart-wrenching emails from women who said I “got it right.”

The second: #YesAllWomen Because my husband never felt he had to hide a pocket knife in his boot just in case.

That’s it. All I said. Two instances that I felt strongly about, shared on a forum created specifically so women could discuss how we feel.  And there’s so much more I could say!

Because I gained 30 pounds and cut my hair off  to make myself unattractive for work. Because I never walked my date to the door so he wouldn’t be molested. Because my brother never had his phone on 911 with his finger over the SEND button while walking to the car. Because my husband wasn’t offered a promotion contingent on sleeping with his boss. Because my girlfriends and I discuss creepers on a daily basis. Because when someone backed into my car, he yelled at me until my friend stepped out in his military uniform, and then he apologized. To HIM.

Because I’ve had that point where I realized that, no matter how hard you fight, sometimes you physically can’t get away.

Because I’m raising daughters in Las Vegas, and it’s difficult to teach them about respect in an environment that doesn’t practice it.

But no, I didn’t mention those. I only mentioned the two things. And what happened?

Strangers tracked me down and sent me threats. They called me a feminist pig, ridiculed my books, said that I was stomping on men’s rights and all manner of terrible things. Some alluded that I needed to learn my lesson, and there would be plenty of people willing to teach it.

Sooooooo…you didn’t like me saying I felt threatened and decided the best way to stop that was to threaten me?

Let’s cast the gender thing aside for a moment. I don’t want deal with the gender wars, the mommy wars, the homeschooling wars, or any of the other imaginary wars that we’re wasting our time on. Let’s talk person to person. Individual to individual.

You are not better than me.

I don’t care if you’re bigger, can run faster, are better at ballet, or put Einstein to shame.

You are not better than her.

I don’t care if she’s smaller, quiet, is afraid of the dark, or has a disability.

I am not better than you.

She is not better than him.

You are not better than them. We are not better than you. They are not better than us.

Get the gist? We are equal. EQUAL. Supporting a woman doesn’t mean you don’t support a man. Supporting him doesn’t mean I don’t support you. Colleagues are not competition. Love isn’t like a cup of sugar that’s all used up. And other things of that nature.

If I’m telling you that I’ve felt threatened, then don’t try to talk me out of it. If your little sister is afraid to run to the gas station at night, respect it. I’m sorry that you think that my saying, “Hey, I’d like to have my voice be heard,”  somehow insults you. Guess what? We aren’t talking about you right now. We’re talking about a group who are standing together and saying that we shouldn’t have to be afraid all of the time. It’s our turn. After this, you may have your turn to say what you want to say. And chances are very good that, if you aren’t a hysterical, frothing-at-the-mouth jerk, I’ll listen and support you.

You’re damaging the good men who don’t treat women like garbage. You’re shaming and disrespecting people who are trying to make a difference in the world. You’re setting all of us back.

This goes both ways, too. Each gender abuses each gender. That is, of course, equally as shameful. Stand up for strength and goodness, period. If you’re going to track down a random stranger and threaten to harm her, you’re obviously passionate and have some time on your hands. Why not use it to be a hero? Why not try to hold back the dam of hatred?

I see the most extraordinary people stand between those they love and harm’s way. People who have rushed to help others. Sometimes it’s the little things, like sending a cheering email. Sometimes they do it by simply not being a jerk. Sometimes they literally jump in front of bullets. Choose how you’re going to do it, but do it. I believe that you can. I believe in you.

Do you know why? Because we are people. Because you are a PERSON, you have a portion of my respect. When I learn more about you and who you are, most likely you’ll earn much more of it. But threatening women who have something to say?  It isn’t cool.

#YesAllWomen Because I was threatened for opening my mouth.

#YesAllWomen Because some random whackadouches just proved why this hashtag is necessary.

 

Mercedes M. Yardley

Mercedes M. Yardley is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love, and Nameless: The Darkness comes.

26 thoughts on “Fear, #YesAllWomen, and Threats

  1. I can’t even believe that someone would track you down and say threatening things :( Once again, using intimidation so that you’re afraid. But I’m glad you posted this and shared. That takes caojones and a lot of heart. Thank you!

  2. I sometimes think that for some people love is like that cup of sugar. And for fewer still there never was any sugar in there in the first place. Those last are the really dangerous ones.

  3. Mercedes, I’m so sorry this happened to you–and to everyone posting on the hashtag.

    The good guys really have NO idea how bad things are, and it’s hard to have that conversation. It’s hard to emphasize that defensiveness or arguing doesn’t help–it’s about listening. The good guys want to fix it, and if there’s nothing they can do to fix it, they’re not as enthused about listening.

    The good guys say they’d stop it if they saw it, but if they don’t even know all the ways it happens, they won’t see it. But maybe if they listened and were more aware, they’d see it and recognize it more often when it happened.

    *hugs* my friend.

  4. Mercedes, I am sorry that you had this experience after your two rather benign tweets. Lots of men just don’t “get it.” I guess it is because they haven’t had to live it. The good men who are wonderful in our lives can’t fathom the threats and threatening behavior we can endure anytime we are out in public or even post online. The other men, the ones who abuse their power and privilege don’t even want to understand. What they want is “power and control” over every woman they come into contact with. The good men just cannot grasp this. It is not in their faces and sometimes it is so subtle that they miss it all together because that is not their mindset. You are brave Mercedes. I salute you. Hugs, Ardee-ann #YesAllWomen

  5. That was a powerful read, Mercedes. Thank you for your perspective in the matter. It truly saddens me that a bunch of cowards on the Internet had such an ill effect on you.

    Regarding your words, I think the most poignant tweet I’ve seen regarding #YesAllWomen was akin to “Don’t support #YesAllWomen because she’s your sister/mother/daughter, support it because she’s a fucking person.” This seems echoed in your piece and truly gets at the heart of the matter, that a person is a person, that the problem is prevalent even on such a basic level.

  6. Chances are these are young kids who have not been educated on what it means to respect others. These same kids who put up FB fan pages to Eliot Rodgers and other demented murderers because somehow they are disenfranchised enough to believe that somehow killing people is cool.
    They sit behind their keyboards and feel brave because their identity is concealed with a name and an avatar, throwing out threats to strangers. And then sadly one must ask how long until those threats become a reality?
    I’ve read a few people who have been threatened for using this hashtag and speaking up. I say don’t let it stop you. Keep on keeping on, otherwise the haters will always win.

  7. #YesAllWomen Because the guys who get it are starting to say they can’t listen to our stories any more, it’s too depressing. My response: imagine what it’s like to live them, every day, your whole life long, and NOT have the luxury of turning them off or tuning them out.

  8. #YesAllWomen because I have sisters, nieces, sisters-in-law, a mom, a daughter-in-law, a granddaughter, and a wife. I have friends. I empathize with women I don’t even know, but encounter both in life and on-line. I wish they could all feel loved and protected all the time. But, the reality is that there are men out there who have been taught a perverted view of themselves and their place in the world. Thank you for stating the problem in such a clear and unambiguous way. May we all learn to respect the personhood of those we encounter in life.

  9. It seems to me that you’ve presented a great viewpoint on the subject. I’m sorry you got lumped into the pile with the women who were much more vociferous and extreme. Now, that said, let me tell you what I heard. I read the “10% of the M&M’s analogy” and quickly determined exactly what she meant…you can trust a single man…they’re all in the same bowl and you can’t tell them apart, so…they’re all bad! Okay, that wouldn’t have been too bad if she was the only one saying that. When many of my female friends re-tweeted it, it was clear that the bowl of poisoned M&M’s is a commonly held belief. However, under the terms of #YesAllWomen, a man cannot claim he’s a good guy, or even offer anything. He is, according to the written instructions, supposed to shut up and listen. If you want to have a conversation, a dialogue, a constructive discussion you don’t start by accusing the very people you allegedly want to participate. Listen? Absolutely. Contribute ideas? Yup. Join the cause? Sure. But not now. Those of us who have never done anything remotely threatening will be to busy trying to get off the tar to join you. You likely wouldn’t respond to my request for dialogue if I started with “you’re just another slut.” Don’t be surprised when good men struggle with a conversation that begins “You’re just another rapist and enabler.”

    • Craig – the M&M analogy does NOT mean all men are bad or that all M&Ms are bad – it means that you can’t tell by looking and you need to develop a strategy to protect yourself in the first instance until you can determine by further testing whether the M&M or man is a good one.
      The conversation isn’t started with “You’re just another rapist and enabler,” it begins with , “You might be another rapist and enabler – and until I can be sure you aren’t I am going to guard myself.”
      What on earth is wrong with that?

    • Craig, no offense mate, but come off it. Men aren’t being persecuted in the way you describe; there’s no buckets of tar and feathers waiting with your name on it. And frankly, this whole woe-is-me approach is rather appalling and distracts from authentic problem that Mercedes is addressing. Tom Hawking from Flavorwire said it best:

      “[C]learly no one beyond the most radical vanguard of feminism is really suggesting that within every man lurks a rabid misogynist killer, just waiting to get out. [This kind of argument is] a way of derailing conversations about the role of men in female oppression, because it immediately swings the spotlight back onto you: hey, I’m not like that, thus your entire argument is invalid, see?

      But no, actually, it’s the “not all men” argument that’s invalid — or, at least, disingenuous. Maybe it’s not all men — but it is men and only men, and it’s that’s something that we as men need to accept.”

  10. Thank you guys so much for discussing this, reblogging, and for your post, Rob. I was hesitant to write this at all because I hate confrontation, but I appreciate your civility.

    Craig, I see what you’re saying about the M&M bowl. I’m often lumped into other groups because of external things, as well. It certainly doesn’t mean that all men are awful, and I don’t think that’s the case being stated here. What I was specifically addressing was that I said something on a forum created for the very purpose of women sharing how we feel intimidated, and I was threatened for that.

    I’m sharing it in the hopes that more people will become aware. I certainly don’t mean to fling mud onto men who are true gentlemen. As I said, I’ve been graced to know several real men who have helped form my opinion of men. But then, I’m also one of the lucky ones. Not everybody is surrounded by such caring individuals.

  11. Strong emotions and convictions lead to eloquent writing. Mercedes, that is some of the most eloquent writing I have seen.

    And you are, of course, right about all of it. As a man, I feel shame that other men have sent you these threats for saying what should be perfectly clear to all of us. It is a shame that, because you have spoken up, you (and others) are automatically labeled as a misandrist.

    I admit, as a man, I cannot truly know what women go through, though I can imagine. All I can do is try to treat everyone with decency and respect, as I would want others to treat me. And I suppose that, in the end, is what it’s all about.

    Take care, my friend.

  12. Pingback: #YesAllWomen, Because | Carrie Cuinn

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