Yes, all women

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<em>It was a nightclub in Mississauga I had never been to before. The strange passerby stuck his hand right up my dress and tried to feel around a bit. The guy I was with was shocked and livid. He would have killed the stranger if he could. My girlfriends offered up little fanfare other than &quot;ugh, I hate when that happens.&quot; And I thought that was normal.</em>


When I write my column, I always have to be concerned about timing. If I write it up on Monday, will it still be relevant by Friday? What about the week or two the paper sits on newsstands?


This time around, I&rsquo;m not worried. The #YesAllWomen phenomenon seems like it has some serious staying power.


I have spent hours upon hours immersed in #YesAllWomen on Twitter, where women are sharing their experiences with sexual assault, misogyny, male privilege, and gender inequality, and where good men are offering their support. Reading through #YesAllWomen had me going from sad to scared to mad to proud and back again like a never-ending carousel ride of emotion.


The hashtag&rsquo;s goal is not to say all men are dangerous or scary, or to blame them for the recent shootings motivated by hatred towards women, as many criticizers have claimed. Nor is it to group all women together and say, &ldquo;We&rsquo;re all the same, we&rsquo;ve all had the same experiences,&rdquo; as a number of angry women have expressed.


#YesAllWomen is about bringing attention to the fact that we are living in a society where male aggression and power is rewarded, where movies and TV shows glamorize traditional gender roles (even when they&rsquo;re trying not to), and where rape culture is the norm.


What is rape culture? It&rsquo;s girls being sent home from school for violating dress codes that are in place because &ldquo;boys can&rsquo;t help themselves when a girl&rsquo;s skin is showing.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s the normalcy of women planning their entire day to avoid having to walk alone late at night. It&rsquo;s the questions asked after females report rape, including &ldquo;what was she wearing?&rdquo; and &ldquo;was she asking for it?&rdquo;


There were six deaths last weekend after a 22-year-old man opened fire in a Santa Barbara neighbourhood: four men and two women. Some online detractors of #YesAllWomen use that math to indicate that the crime wasn&rsquo;t related to misogyny or male privilege but the killer himself told us that men were his target because they &ldquo;had&rdquo; the women he could never get. That disturbed young man thought sex was his right and that women were placed on this Earth to give it to him.


Yes, mental illness was surely one of the basic ingredients of this crime, but misogyny was the catalyst. The Youtube videos and 137-page manifesto the murderer left behind demonstrate the ramblings of a madman, but a madman motivated by real-world values such as how success is achieved with power and riches, that beautiful women are prizes for men to attain, and that male dominance is unwavering.


This is exactly why #YesAllWomen is important. The recent shooting shouldn&rsquo;t be swept under the rug as yet another crime motivated solely by mental illness and poor gun control, but rather by attitudes that are commonly and innocently held by your friends, neighbours, and family.
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