This week the world looked on in horror as the details of Elliot Rodger’s rampage unfolded, ending with him killing seven people. Before long, a multitude of digital sources unveiled a frightening glimpse at the motives behind the killings.
From videos he uploaded to YouTube to a 141-page, Rodger made it clear that the treatment he received from women who were unwilling to accept his sexual advances were the root cause of his mass slaughtering.
Whilst the digital sphere will undoubtedly be criticised for giving Rodger both a platform for, and potentially fueling, his women hating theories (it later emerged Rodger was active on men’s rights forums discussing his desire to punish women) the reaction to his actions on social media has reignited a conversation about sexual permission and misogyny.
The hashtag #YesAllWomen (originally created as a reaction to #NotAllMen) was given new life. The social conversation, causing the hashtag to trend globally, not only highlights the basic notion that all women have the right to choose when and with whom they have sex but also disputes the ‘not all men are like that’ theory behind #NotAllMen.
Lena Dunham waded into the conversation, joining the hashtag with her own experience from high school, she said:
In high school a very disturbed boy told me if I didn't choose to love him he would make me, followed by a series of graphic threats...— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) May 26, 2014
After she was criticised for tweeting Rodger's name she hit back in true Lena style with:
Publicity isn't the problem. The abject terror this instilled in women is. RT @Levertis_Minter: way to tweet his name to 1.5 million people— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) May 27, 2014
Obviously, nothing can take away the pain and anger caused by Rodger’s actions. But just maybe the social conversation is becoming harder to ignore… and with enough voices can bring about real change.