clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why #yesallwomen is the most important thing you'll read today

Students gather on the UC Santa Barbara campus for a candlelight vigil for those affected by the tragedy in Isla Vista on May 24, 2014 in Santa Barbara.
Students gather on the UC Santa Barbara campus for a candlelight vigil for those affected by the tragedy in Isla Vista on May 24, 2014 in Santa Barbara.
Photo by Spencer Weiner/Getty Images
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

In Santa Barbara, California, a man killed six people and injured seven more. And in the wake of the mass-murder, people have been trying to figure out why the alleged gunman, a 22-year-old named Elliot Rodger, went berserk. For some inexplicable reason, there are people who want to place the blame on the women who didn't date him.

What is #yesallwomen?

#yesallwomen is a Twitter hashtag in response to a twisted narrative that the women who didn't date were to blame for Rodger's actions. Before Rodger allegedly shot those people in Santa Barbara, he filmed videos where he expressed anger at women who didn't want to date him and that he shouldn't be a virgin at 22.

"I feel so invisible as I walk through my college. Your revealing shorts, your cascading blonde hair, your pretty faces. I want one for a girlfriend," Rodger said in one of the videos.  "I am polite. I am the ultimate gentleman. And yet, you girls never give me a chance. I don't know why," he also said.

The gist: Rodger was frustrated that women didn't want to date him, felt entitled to a woman's affections, and talked about women like objects. And now there are people, in the wake of the shooting, who want to blame these women's rejections as the reason for Rodger's mass murder. The story, to those people, isn't that Rodger was disturbed but rather: this poor guy wasn't treated nicely by women.

This narrative spurred a myriad of conversations, one of those was #yesallwomen. #yesallwomen was created on May 24 (the hashtag is an allusion to the Not All Men meme).

What are people tweeting about in #yesallwomen?

Some of the tweets reference things that Rodger spoke about — rejection, being "friend-zoned", and striking out with women.  But the conversation being had there is much more than that, and has extended to personal stories of rape, domestic violence, and others that bring to light the fears and harsh truths that women experience in everyday life:

Where did all the tweets come from?

Simon Rogers, Twitter's data editor, created a map on CartoDB, a data visualization site, pulled the geotagged #yesallwomen tweets from May 24 and 25, and displayed them on a time-lapse map. What he found was that the majority of the tweets came from the United States:


A GIF of a time-lapse map showing where the #yesallwomen tweets came from. The blue lights indicate a tweet. Courtesy: CartoDB user Srogers.

Where can I find more?

The #yesallwomen hashtag is still alive and trending and you can follow the discussion there.

Correction: This story initially said Rodger allegedly shot six people dead. Police believe that Rodger stabbed three people and shot and killed three more. I've updated the post to clarify and reflect that. I've also updated the Storify— it previously included a joke (and observation) from Louis C.K. that said that men are the number one threat to women, and passed it off as fact.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.