Sunday, February 18, 2018
Opinion

Column: A subject suited to a hashtag

Twitter's #YesAllWomen is worth reading.

I know, I know. Not another hashtag. Didn't we just leave this party? Have we fixed the other thing that we were hashtagging about the last time? Indignation, and so forth! (There is, of course, another conversation to be had about hashtivism.)

But #YesAllWomen trended last weekend and kept trending, all through the fireworks and barbecues. After the killings in California, it's an answer to the "Not All Men" objection raised whenever a woman complains about something that happened to her. I'd recommend reading it — especially if your first response was something approaching an eye-roll.

Obviously hashtags have their limits. But this is a subject well-suited to one. #YesAllWomen has turned into a forum for sharing stories, which, strung together one after another, form a vivid picture. It's worth a look — especially for the people on the other side of the "Not All Men" party to whom this kind of thing never happens.

It matters because every woman has a story like this. Every one. That nervous feeling when you're the only one on the subway car and a man gets on. That evening you were jogging and someone shouted "How much?" and your first thought was "Oh no, I didn't think this outfit was particularly suggestive!" instead of "Seriously?"

A Margaret Atwood quote about people's worst fear echoes through the thread: "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."

The sheer number of 140-character accounts also makes them powerful and unsettling, shared story after shared story. The resounding yes-that-happened-to-me, yes-I-know-that-feeling is comforting and empowering online, but when you consider its implications for what women face every day in the world, it's chilling.

#YesAllWomen have a story like this. If you don't believe it, read them.

© Washington Post 2014

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