i had watched the hashtag #YesAllWomen take a life of its own on Twitter, and was fascinated that while it didn’t trend in the Philippines, the tweets from elsewhere in the world (mostly the US it seems) resonated with this Pinay so removed from that context.
i’m the last to imagine universality to be a valid enterprise, imagining as i do that we are always more complex than just being / standing for / standing against one thing. yet it is feminism still — no matter how it is not named such, no matter that it denies this label — that i realize i fall back on, if not go back to.
because in times like these, where a girlfriend like Reeva can die in the hands of the man she’s in a relationship with, or a whole school for girls in Nigeria can be kidnapped by extremists premised on the belief that girls don’t deserve an education; or when one Maya Angelou dies and her life’s work spent speaking honestly about her life and her self is reconfigured through hagiography, or is judged for being a “sex worker” which she did not call herself (seems we missed the point of her writing altogether, didn’t we).
all over the world women are speaking up and telling stories of everyday sexual harassment, the kind that informs our everyday fears, what we are warned about not wearing, or not saying, or not being, to make sure that we don’t ask for it.
but misogyny exists not because we do something; it exists because we exist. and we exist in a world where men can decide that we are nothing but objects, nothing but bodies to conquer and own.
that was the thing with the #YesAllWomen hashtag, i realized. it was so well thought of, so succinct, so precise about what it wanted to say, that it allowed all women, from all generations and across geographies, to talk about such personal experiences of sexual harassment and abuse, only to find that it has happened to so many others, too.
of course the men had to respond and say #NotAllMen harass women, but that was the men missing the point entirely. this was about women speaking up about having been sexually harassed and abused at one point in their lives by men. not all men. but by men.
it is ironic of course that the defensive response of #NotAllMen reveals precisely why #YesAllWomen was powerful and important. and relevant.
that this did not trend in the Philippines — the self-proclaimed and purported social media capital of Asia — is a measure of the online Pinay (and Pinoy). what are we doing here exactly, and what issues are important to us?
more importantly, why was #YesAllWomen just not important enough?