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The Globe and Mail

#YesAllWomen: How California’s shooting sparked soul-searching on misogyny

This image from video posted on YouTube shows Elliot Rodger. Sheriff's officials say Rodger was the gunman who went on a shooting rampage near the University of California at Santa Barbara on May 23, 2014.


A simple hashtag gave social-media users food for thought over the weekend, after Elliot Rodger's deadly rampage in California – and the manifesto and YouTube video announcing it – fuelled soul-searching about the misogynist message he espoused.

In his online messages, including a video entitled Elliot Rodger's Retribution, Mr. Rodger identified himself as a 22-year-old virgin and vowed revenge against women. "You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me. But I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime," he said in the YouTube video, which has since been taken down.

Using the hashtag #YesAllWomen, Twitter users shared their stories of sexual abuse, street harassment and social expectations that men are entitled to women's affection. Here is a selection of writers who addressed #YesAllWomen this weekend.

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The phrase #YesAllWomen came in response to another meme – #NotAllMen – alluding to reactions that not every man is guilty of sexual violence. This is a too-common tactic used to dismiss problems of misogyny, #YesAllWomen users argued.

Commenters also voiced concern over Mr. Rodger's alleged affinity for the "men's rights activist," or MRA, movement, and his involvement with PUAhate, a site for men who feel cheated by the seduction tactics advertised by so-called pickup artists.


Much is still unknown about the state of Mr. Rodger's mental health. His psychiatrist prescribed him the antipsychotic drug Risperidone, but according to his manifesto, he refused to take it. Early reports that he had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome were later called into question. A common theme of #YesAllWomen responses was to challenge whether his state of mind was a relevant issue at all, and to ask why men with mental-health issues might be vulnerable to misogynist rhetoric.


In response to #YesAllWomen, the alternative hashtags #YesAllPeople and #YesAllMen emerged. Several #YesAllWomen users complained that these were being abused by trolls or were deflecting blame for sexual violence.

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With a report from the Associated Press

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