Twitter hashtag spurs national discussion

Posted at: 05/27/2014 10:23 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A local sexual assault victim advocate says a trend on social media can help to start an important conversation in New Mexico.

The Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen started as the social media response to the seemingly misogynistic motives behind 22-year-old Elliot Rodger's deadly rampage at UC Santa Barbara and quickly turned into a world-wide trend on the site.

The message?

Yes, all women have experienced objectification and intimidation because of their gender.

In Santa Fe, sexual assault victim advocate Jessica Montoya says men and women alike can learn a lot by what people are saying.

"The power of social media is it breaks down all invisible man made barriers and borders," said Montoya.

The hashtag #YesAllWomen blew up to well over 1.5 million Tweets after new broke of the 22-year-old UC Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger's YouTube manifestos blaming his actions on women who'd turned him down.

"You girls have never been attracted to me," Rodger said in a video posted online. "I don't know why you aren't attracted to me but I will punish you for it."

Soon after those videos became public, folks took to Twitter with #YesAllWomen.

"#YesAllWomen, because every time I become emotional or passionate about something I'm 'on my period.'" Montoya read from a long list of Tweets on Tuesday.

Montoya watched as that hashtag filled the social media site with millions of tweets about the objectification and abuse women endure for simply being women.

"I have a boyfriend is the easiest way to get a man to leave you alone because he respects another man more than you," she read.

She said that is a conversation New Mexicans should be having.

"The strong faith that is rooted here in Santa Fe specifically, for our mother -- the divine woman," she said.

Montoya said New Mexico should lead this conversation.

Our state's early culture, she points out, was built on elevating women -- something she's watched get lost over time.

In her work with victims of sexual abuse she says one in three New Mexican women, and women around the globe will experience sexual abuse.   

"That's something that our whole society needs to take responsibility for, not just men. We can all help uplift each other to break out of the gender norms," she said.