You know what I hate?
No, but seriously. You know what I hate? That “YesAllWomen” hashtag.
It’s for a good cause, I’ll give it that. It brought attention to the very important issue of a woman’s right not to get molested simply trying to walk to and from work. Or her right to take the subway somewhere without being called Sugartits. In fact, the cause itself was so righteous that I almost let it slip by without bitching about it.
But something still rubbed me the wrong way, and that something was the “All” part of #yesallwomen. Why? Well, I happen to be a woman. I have indeed experienced sexism. I have experienced inequal treatment. I have experienced verbal and physical altercations.
But do I experience these things every single day, as some proponents of the hashtag claim ALL women do?
In fact, I made it all day today without a single jibe about my gender. No one catcalled me today. No one denied me something I wanted because I was female. No one told me I couldn’t do something because I am a woman. (And just to be clear, yes, I left the house today. I realize this is not a given.)
I do not intend to disavow the experience of women who DO experience these things on the daily. I am sure it sucks absolute ass. No one should have to go through that.
But I push back against anything that seeks to speak for All Women. This may come as a shock, but not all woman have the same lives. Our experience vary wildly between economic classes, races, countries of origin, age, etc. And even within those demographics, not every woman goes through the same thing.
The #NotAllMen hashtag, while misguided, was ultimately more accurate, because at least it focused on the disparities in its referenced population. Whereas #YesAllWomen sought to speak for an entire population that I am part of, while making statements that did not apply to me, thereby making me feel like I do not count.
It’s not like saying “The African elephant eats 450 kg of vegetation a day.” You can’t throw out some fact like “The female human is sexually assaulted before she graduates from college.” It’s just another way to group our entire gender into one category. It erases our individuality, silences our subjectivity, and negates our personhood.
It is fine to make generalizations, sometimes even useful – as long as we acknowledge that they are, in fact, generalizations. There must be other ways to shed light on the issues surrounding women’s rights, ways that don’t wildly oversimplify those issues.
How about something like…