#YesAllWomen but #NotAllMen

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert ’15

This past May, near the University of Santa Barbara in California, a shooting/stabbing rampage occurred, killing six students. The young man who killed these people will not be named here, for I believe that the name of the perpetrator is one that should not live on, in infamy or otherwise. The perpetrator had a vendetta for the “hottest sorority house” on the UCSB campus, which was filled with members who, allegedly, rejected his sexual advances. He, therefore, brought a gun and knife to the surrounding area of the school, which he did not attend, in order to “slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up blond slut,” of this particular sorority. The perpetrator ended up taking the lives of six people, four men and two women, before he took his own life.[1] Political discussions then filled news networks about gun control and gender-based violence. The familiar dialogue about misogyny was once again reignited, and a “hash tag” was developed for tweets about men who were, really, not bad men. #NotAllMen was trending on Twitter in defense of the good men who are respectful of women. A new hash tag, #YesAllWomen, was then developed to express that all women do experience sexism, the effects of misogyny, or harassment at some point in their lives. So, who is right? Is it true that not all men are really bad? Or do all women really experience the effects of sexism and misogyny? Well, since I identify as a woman, I guess I’ll start with my story.

Many days on my walk to work in London, a large group of men would yell at me.

“Here is the address to my bedroom. Hosting a party there on Saturday.”

“Where you going in such a hurry? Come back here.”

Well, I was going to work. I was going to work at a domestic violence and rape crisis center where I would take calls from women who were victims of the men who reduced their personhood to objects that they could use, hurt, and abuse. The irony of it all was stunning: I would tell women on the phone that their abuse shouldn’t be tolerated. And here I was, in a foreign city, unable to say anything to the men who disrespected me, albeit never physically abusing me, for fear that I would be hurt or kidnapped or raped. I would then spend hours of my day listening to stories of men who would do evil things to the women who trusted them. So, I do think that I can confirm that most, if not all, women do experience sexual harassment at some point in their lives. The #YesAllWomen hash tag, as far as I am concerned, does in fact capture the female demographic. One day while I was in London, one of my friends asked me: “does your job make you, like, hate men?”

My honest answer: “No. I mostly love men. Most guys are good guys.”

And I still stand by that statement. Too often, too many of us women talk about how “terrible” men can be. And yeah, men can be pretty terrible. They are definitely capable of doing awful things, and women are more likely to get abused, sexually and physically, than men. Those are the facts.[i] The men who perform the unthinkable do not need praise; they deserve defamation. But, do you know the group of guys who receive too little of our attention?

The good guys: they deserve our attention too.

I have lived a very blessed life and I have to say that I have never once been abused, threatened, or even pressured to do anything sexually, with which I was not comfortable. The men in my life are mostly stellar. My dad loves my mom and I more than anything; he believes in our abilities and loves to learn things from us. My brothers admire me and love to chat about music and politics with me because they respect my opinion. My male friends are incredible as well: they not only root for me, but they appreciate my sense of humor and my talents that stretch beyond the boundaries of our friendship. And, yeah, I do meet the occasional creep at a bar, but I have ten good men in my life to make up for the not-so-good ones who make the brief appearances. Men are there to laugh with me, to cheer me on, to teach me to be a better human, just like I can help them become better. As a heterosexual woman, I firmly believe that men can help me reach my full capacities as a person. We all need each other: men, women, transgendered people, and those who choose not to identify with gender. I am better because of every person in my life, I can promise you that.

And, to the women and girls who are reading this article who have endured abuse, hurt, and heartbreak from the men in their lives: I am truly sorry. Nothing can render your experiences null. You are survivors and those men do not deserve our acclaim. You, instead, deserve my respect, admiration, and enduring praise. It is completely understandable if you are skeptical of the gender that has caused you so much pain and it is not my place to persuade you; it is only my place to support you.

But to all of the great men out there, you deserve the attention more than the anomalies of your gender that do the dishonorable. So, to all of the standup guys: I raise my cup to you. I find faith in you. I support the #NotAllMen initiative as well because you have filled my life with so much joy and, so, I can also confirm that not all men are capable of murder, misogyny, or even blatant sexism.

Hell, I make mistakes every day. So does the rest of my gender. We really are all just imperfect humans trying to move forward. But most of us girls are good. Most people are good people, men included.

So, yeah: I love guys. Most guys are good guys.

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/24/justice/california-shooting-deaths/

[i] http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/statistics/

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