Dear Random Man of the Internet. If you are feeling marginalized, targeted, oppressed, or objectified by the #YesAllWomen hashtag that has been trending on Twitter since the Isla Vista murders last week, here is a dose of reality. This is not about you. And you need to listen.
This morning I tweeted the following:
#YesAllWomen encourages empathy in a debate clouded by cognitive dissonance. Listen and learn.”
And you immediately responded:
“No it doesn’t. It indicts men. Exploits tragedy where mentally ill man who hated all humanity killed 3 men. All to advance an agenda.”
This seems a common sentiment and it is a validation of my original tweet: The cognitive dissonance felt when confronted with the reality of how our society treats women causes men to feel like victims of unjust treatment – a role reversal they immediately speak up about. Which is exactly what women are doing with the #YesAllWomen tag. You are right, Random Man from the Internet, there is an agenda here: Women want to be treated like human beings, not objects. And whether you feel you are part of the problem or part of the solution it is your obligation to check your ego and privilege at the door, hear them out, and see the world from their perspective. Your feelings on the matter are not relevant here. This is not about you.
Empathy and the Shared Experience
When a person shares their human experience with us and gives us a glimpse of what the world is like from their perspective, we are privileged to listen. Our ability as humans to share in the experience of others, to empathise, and to adjust our world-view and our behaviour accordingly is what makes us a social species. It is part of what makes us who we are.
When the experience shared is one of fear, frustration, anguish, and pain, we are obliged to listen and to give our support. #YesAllWomen is that; on a scale we have never seen before.
#YesAllWomen is the collective sharing of the human experience from the majority of the human race: Those that identify as female. It is a glimpse of what the world is like for a group that is marginalized, targeted, oppressed, objectified, and sexualized by the very society they are a part of. And when they speak up, we owe it to them to shut up and listen, take their message to heart, stand with them, and take a long hard look at ourselves.
#YesAllWomen: It’s Not About You, It’s About Us
#YesAllWomen is not about you: It’s about us. We can’t continue down a path that forces half of us to live in fear, constantly looking over their shoulders, and knowing that no matter how hard they work, they will be judged on their gender before they get judged on their merits.
#YesAllWomen is not an indictment of you as a person, nor of all men or any other group. It is an indictment of a society and societal norms that are as anachronistic as they are morally wrong. It is a demand that all voices be heard and that we put our cognitive dissonance aside. Look beyond yourself and help shine a light on systemic injustices imposed on our fellow human beings.
Listen and Learn
To all the women out there, yes, all women. Please keep talking. We are listening and we stand with you.
Take an hour out of your day to read the ever expanding #YesAllWomen tag. Take a few steps in her shoes and realize it is not about you. It is about humanity.