Why #YesAllPeople misses the boat

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In light of the Santa Barbara shootings and #YesAllWomen hashtag that’s been trending for days on Twitter, I wanted to write something short on the recent hubbub. I know I’m not the only one out here writing about this, and if you don’t want to read it, that’s fine too. I’m not really going to talk about the shootings and the whole social issues surrounding them, because everyone else can do that. I want to talk about my own views which resulted from my upbringing and personal experiences.

And a *disclaimer* — if you read the whole post beginning to end and disagree, that’s great. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

We live in a conflicted society; women have more opportunity than ever, and I don’t really want to complain. I don’t think complainers have ever changed history, and Twitter itself and my blog are not going to reverse the course of any social issues on its own. But I think it’s important for people to understand that despite women’s power and status in Western culture today, we still have an intense fear every time we walk down a dark street at night, because women are still taken advantage of.

Many people within the orthodox Jewish circles think our culture is immune to this. Yeah, bad stuff comes out every now and then, but the percentage of crime is lower in our circles.

Wrong.

It’s just not discussed.

I have a friend who dated someone within the orthodox circles who was physically abusive. Don’t assume the worst, but what he did wasn’t okay, and she asked him repeatedly to stop. Which he didn’t.

I have friends who were harassed by a sick man who followed them off a bus and down the street, making moves that made them scared for their lives.

I had a personal experience with an older man on an empty bus in Israel, which I know was no accident on his part. The bus was empty besides the two of us and the driver. I never told anyone because I didn’t want to talk about it. I’m talking now.

Further, in the orthodox circles, many girls are taught they should dress modestly to conceal what’s inside, much like precious jewelry is kept in a nice box. And there are more legitimate reasons, but that’s not the point. Some have also been taught that we should dress so men don’t lose all human decency and suddenly start lusting after us. Obviously the onus is on us to be respectful of their base urges, because naturally that would be the first thing to spark if we weren’t dressed appropriately.

I HATE that concept.

Firstly, it’s degrading to men. It objectifies them as much as it objectifies women, and reduces them to animalistic beings that can’t control instincts. Secondly, it’s a stupid idea. If, in fact, that is the case, seriously? Tendencies and instincts are controllable. And you DON’T impose rules on other groups of people to simply convenience yourselves. Because for those women who are stupid enough and sheep enough to subscribe to that ideology, who are you doing it for anyway? Who told you to do it in the first place? Yeah, men.

I was taught to think feminism is a dirty word. I used to say, “yeah, I think women should have equal rights and stuff, but I’m not a feminist.” Well, now I am.

My point in all this is that for those who responded with the #YesAllPeople backlash, I agree. Everyone deserves the right to equality and certainly to not be abused. And I get it, men are sometimes abused too. I understand. But the vast majority of those people who are marginalized and mistreated are women. And therein lies the problem.

Social causes are not based on small, noncohesive elements of marginalized societies; they stem from fairly large cohesive units who share common denominators and who desperately seek change. And that’s what this hashtag is about. Because if you’re a guy reading this and you can tell me you and all your guy friends have been harassed or abused, then you can intervene. You can criticize me and the women posting with #YesAllWomen. But if the answer is no, then just settle down, and for once, just listen.

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