The world we live in today is a scary place. If you talk to older relatives, they will tell you tales of biking into town, going to the movies with friends and running around the neighborhood until their parents called them in for dinner. The world was a different place now than it was 30, 20 and even ten years ago. Ten years ago, I was one of those kids who ran around her neighborhood until my mom said it was time to come in.
But now, walking out of my front door and into the world, I am terrified. Every time I go to the movies, I look around and make sure I know where the exits are in case a gunman starts shooting. When I walk from the mall to my car I have pepper spray in my hand in case someone tries to attack me, and I would never let my seven-year old sister and 10-year old brother run around the neighborhood unless I was two feet behind them. Unfortunately, younger generations might never know the feeling of security that older ones have felt and come to miss.
I’ve come to miss this security as well. One of my favorite past times is sitting on my beautiful campus in the sun, something I had planned to do quite often before I graduated. However, every time I walk onto campus now or am laying in the sunshine reading a book I am going to be distracted; I will be too busy scrutinizing everyone that passes by. I will be too busy thinking if the guy I didn’t accept a drink or dance from will come running onto the mall waving a gun at me because I denied him. Or what about that guy that one of my sorority sisters cursed at because he pinched her butt, is he going to come running into our sorority house blaming women for all of his problems? Women have definitely gotten the short end of the stick here -- if we say yes, we are sluts, but if we say no, we get shot? Anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?
After the shooting at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where Elliot Rodger allegedly opened fire, killing six and wounding 13, the hashtag #YesAllWomen took off on Twitter. Rodger blamed his day of retribution on the cruelness of women, claiming that they denied him pleasure. The hashtag has been tweeted more than one million times, which shows just how much women are speaking up about what we have to face on a day-to-day basis. This hashtag does more than just speak about this college shooting; it brings to light the worldwide struggle women face each day in every corner of the world.
“I think the #YesAllWomen movement was really important in showing people the true challenges and danger women face every day,” said Laura Cohen, a senior journalism and women’s and gender studies major. “We need to point out that men cannot feel entitled to women because it only leads to violence. A woman should be able to say 'yes' or 'no' to a man without fearing her safety.”
How can we live in a world where we teach our daughters how not to get raped instead of teaching our sons how not to rape? To men I ask, how would you feel raising a daughter in a world where she is told to take it as a compliment when a stranger gropes her on the street? #YesAllWomen is not simply a hashtag, it is a wake-up call for people to see that in a society where people are more comfortable with telling jokes about rape than reporting that they have been raped, something has to change.
“The only way we can fix this huge cultural issue is to change the male perspective and make everyone understand how we all need to be a part of the solution,” Cohen added.