So I wrote an article over at Luna Luna about why I think that we should try, where possible, to shift from the #yesallwomen/#notallmen hashtag flame war into a more inclusive conversation. I think we should use #yesallpeople to talk about the universally destructive effects of misogyny on our culture.
I’ve been getting some blowback about this. The #yesallpeople hashtag has already been in use for a little while (as you can see in the comments section, the woman who started it had her reasons), and it’s been pretty largely condemned as yet another way of silencing women or people of color in favor of letting the existing power structure take part in the conversation. Or something like that.
And part of me gets it. I understand why it’s so vitally important for women and especially women of color to have a voice for once. It’s beyond essential for their stories to be heard, at long last. So many of us have been living with the ramifications of everyday sexism for so long we don’t even realize that we’re part of it, and that absolutely has to change. The paradigm in which we exist, which makes misogyny so pervasive we don’t even recognize it much of the time, must shift. And in order for change to be made, the problem must be called out. Again and again and again.
And more than that, the people who have been victimized by it must speak out. Those who have been silenced for centuries must be allowed to speak, and everybody must be expected to listen. I do not want to silence anybody. I want the conversation about the experiences of women to flourish and thrive. And it’s petty and small-minded of anybody to try to silence them or stick their fingers in their ears and sing “la la la” to make them go away. It’s destructive and further indicative of the negging, gas-lighting culture in which we live to try to argue with the voices of the oppressed. It’s misogyny going even deeper to try to shut them up.
But I am an optimist and an idealist of the most persistent kind. And I believe that misogyny really, actually, does affect everyone. I different ways, of course. I’d venture to say that men on the whole are probably less likely to experience harassment and sexual violence on the same scale as women. And that isn’t to be taken lightly. Really. I mean that. I don’t mean to silence anybody. I have been sexually molested, raped, groped, harassed, and silenced. I know this culture. I’m part of it. But it’s important to point out that the molestation, harassment, and silencing I’ve experienced happened at the hands of women, and I believe that the other abuse I’ve gone through, perpetuated by men, didn’t happen in a vacuum. I think it happened because men also exist in the system of misogyny that tells them they have to or are entitled to be a certain way toward women. I know many men, non-gendered individuals, trans* folks, and others who have also been victimized, and who for reasons that go right back to the sexist, misogynist, gender binary have been silenced in their own ways. This isn’t ok. And we could take this opportunity to be in this boat together, trying to get to a safe shore of love and support instead of poking more holes in our lifeboat when we fling insults at each other.
The point is that the issue of living under the rule of sexism is universal. We are all part of it. Some of us are more victim than aggressor, and some are more aggressor than victim. But we are all living in it. And because we are all living in it, I think it’s important for everybody to listen to everybody else. To take a step back when we can to listen to what people of all kinds are saying. Speak our truths and let others do the same. This isn’t a conversation that will be over quickly. It won’t change things overnight. It’s a conversation that has to be extended to include as many humans as possible, to reach as many eyes and ears as there are on this planet, and in order for that to happen, we can’t afford to silence anybody else. This is about unity against a common foe, not about shouting each other down. #yesallpeople deserve a seat at the table. Some need to listen and others need to talk. But everybody gets a seat.
Anyway, go read the article. Let me know what you think.