3 Things People Didn’t Understand About #YesAllWomen

The Twitter hashtag has had some crying foul for more than a week. Here’s where many people missed the point.

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That said, street harassment and violence are even more connected than one might think. There are many examples of women being attacked, and even murdered, for refusing the advances of men who catcalled them. Saying “Hey, sexy” to a woman may seem innocent. But women who don’t respond to these “compliments” often fear that men will be angered by their silence and retaliate against them with verbal assaults or threats to their physical safety. At their core, both harassment and violence against women come from entitlement—men’s entitlement to women’s bodies.

3. Not Everyone Has to Weigh In on Every Conversation

The most powerful part of #YesAllWomen was that it allowed both women and men to speak about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. The fact that there were more than a million tweets is just the first piece of evidence that these responses were worth considering seriously rather than being brushed over by those quick to take offense.

Conversations about sexism are hard enough without the additional scrutiny of those who say that “not all men” are responsible or who jump in to redirect the conversation to their individual feelings, defenses and priorities. (Again, think about racism here—or any other area in which one group understands what it’s like to be marginalized and others, simply by virtue of their identity, do not.)

If you’re not part of the problem, great. Congratulations. You don’t have to be a part of every conversation. In fact, if you get comfortable with listening instead of constructing your response or defense, you might actually learn something.

Diamond Sharp is an editorial fellow at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.