#YesAllWomen – Not Just Hashtag Activism

In the wake of Elliot Rodger’s killing spree on May 23rd in Isla Vista, a twitter hashtag has emerged and continues to grow days later. The hashtag is #YesAllWomen, and a clear response to Rodger’s sense of sexual entitlement to women in the YouTube video he made a day before his planned “retribution”, and commitment to “annihilating every single girl in the sorority house”.

It took me a while to catch up when I saw this hashtag floating by in my twitter stream Sunday evening. I didn’t connect it immediately to the case, which has so many issues at play.  Since this horrific tragedy, there has been discussion of the availability of firearms, clear sociopathic tendencies, the state of mental health care, and the societal fostering of misogynistic beliefs.

The latter is the one that still hasn’t fizzled out. Why?  My guess is because it’s the one that resonates the strongest with the majority of our country’s population – women.  #YesAllWomen quickly became a megaphone for women to voice their experiences of violence, of fear of how men will react if they turn them down, of their distaste of being punished for putting someone in the “friendzone”, and for living day to day “trying not get raped”.  Though Elliot Rodger is an extreme case, the entitlement he expresses mirrors a large societal ill, and has spurred women by the hundreds of thousands to speak up about how it affects them and yes, all women.

It has taken on a life of it’s own.






  Men showed their support as well:

Since starting on May 24th, the hashtag #YesAllWomen has been attached to over 1.2 million tweets (hashtags.org). Of course when something big happens that has the power to create change, there are those who want to squelch it. There was even a rebirth of the old hashtag #NotAllMen, because some people feel the need to defend themselves more than defend others. While I poured through the rush of tweets Sunday evening, I was tossed about by so many emotions.  I felt scared for us all, I felt triggered, I felt sad, I felt empowered, and I felt overwhelmed by an ultimately unjust commonality that women share. Then I jumped in:  

  And many of my friends did too:

I’ve always had mixed emotions about what’s been coined as “hashtag activism”, and that term has definitely been thrown at this hashtag over the past few days.  I’ve openly pondered before how much good social media hashtags to “raise awareness” actually does, and how slapping a hashtag on something is more often a quick way to pat oneself on the back for being moral than it is a true way to take action…

But #YesAllWomen is truly beyond awareness and hashtag activism…

because oppression and inequality thrive in silence…

because women everywhere are told not to speak up…

and because so many women feel the need to smash the silence and still preserve their self.

A hashtag can be safer than standing on the street corner with a bullhorn…

because in this non-third-world country that we live in, many women still fear for their lives.

The women who tweet with #YesAllWomen are not saying “help this or that cause”.

The women who tweet with #YesAllWomen are saying “help me“.

Help me live in a world where I am equal.

Help me walk down the street without being afraid.

Help raise sons who know they’re not entitled to someone else’s body.

Help change it.

#YesAllWomen is not hashtag activism.

#YesAllWomen is a battle cry…

and the troops continue to gather.


jenni chiu sig




15 responses to “#YesAllWomen – Not Just Hashtag Activism”

  1. Aliza says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Sound the battle cry and hold the flag high. Beautifully written, Jenni.

  2. Well said. When I first stumbled into the hashtag I was so immediately struck by how very personal and real the conversation was. Hashtag activism seems ridiculous to some, but I have seen it effect change on a smaller scale. I recently read a post about hashtag activism and I loved that the author said it’s the modern day sit-in. We don’t have the voice to talk about this in everyday life and this is the outlet that was needed for this conversation to begin.

  3. Heidi says:

    Amen… I am also very weary of Hashtag activism (the effectiveness of it anyway), and you perfectly described why this is so important. Thank you – will definitely be sharing.

  4. Sili says:

    I hit this hashtag first thing on Sunday and was astounded by some of the comments. I shouldn’t be, but I was. So many thoughts and emotions on this topic. Having a girlchild makes it doubly hard when one considers that so little has changed when reading the negativity in the hashtag stream.

  5. Debi says:


    This #YesAllWomen hashtag has triggered something in me. something that I thought I had put away in a little box and tried so hard to move on with my life. As I wrote my piece, I realized that we are assaulted every day in 100 small minute ways. Catcalls, personal space invasions, dirty names, heads pushed, asses groped, disgust, disdain, threatening looks. it goes on and on and those are not even the obvious ways. I remember being in 7th grade and my art teacher , every class, coming over to me while I was drawing an drubbing my shoulders, always, ever so slightly grazing my budding breasts. It made me feel dirty and disgusting and it made me hate art class and eventually something that I loved to do, art. When i said something, I was imagining it. he was merely being kind. This is what I was told. No he was touching me, when I did not want him to. I was his victim and no one cared so I learned to protect myself and not count on anyone else.I hate that. I am sure these are not isolated cases.

  6. Amanda says:

    Thank you, Jenni. It is hard to know when to jump in, my hope is that this time we are living inside of “in,” you know? This isn’t a wave that will crest anytime soon. We are righting a ship that has been sailing aimlessly toward a horizon of hate and oppression.

  7. alexandra says:

    Well said, Jenni.

  8. Jess says:

    Thank you. Thank you in all the words that could ever tell you thank you for writing this, hear them. I’m inspired to write my own. It’s phenomenal and tragic that we’re all needing to talk about this.

  9. Yes! Well said and thank you for saying it.

  10. I think your readers may learn – and meet like minds – from a hashtag scan I made: https://ritetag.com/best-hashtags-for/YesAllWomen/275303

    It is public, so anyone can see tweet density per hashtag related to #yesallwomen, relative popularity, and then, so those who register free or log in, real-time tweets, a context tab, and influencers. Hint: the Tweets tab if you click on #notallmen is quite revealing.

  11. I’ll admit that, as someone who has legitimately, despite being flirtatious as all getup (both online and in real life), never had expectations from a partner, the #YesAllWomen hashtag has thrown me for a loop. Yeah, I know some guys can be callous & immature & evil — but, well, I don’t think I ever really comprehended just what most women do, naturally, to avoid such pricks. It makes me sad – both for the human race, as a whole, and for my own sex.

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