May 27 8:40 PM

When Women Refuse: Misogynistic rant inspires chilling website

UCSB vigil
David McNew/Getty Images

A new Tumblr called When Women Refuse chronicles the horrifying real-life consequences that have befallen women when they’ve refused sexual advances.

Days after college student Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured over a dozen before shooting himself in Isla Vista, California, his rant-filled YouTube video and written manifesto denigrating women who rejected him sparked an online furor about the prevalence of violent and sexist behavior against women.

The site’s creator Deanna Zandt, who co-founded the digital strategy group Lux Digital, told the website ThinkProgress that the men in her social network assumed Rodger was an outlier, some one easily dismissed. But she wanted people to know that the violence and misogyny expressed by Rodger are deeply embedded in our culture.

“We still don’t view gender based violence as a large cultural issue — we tend to think of these as isolated incidences,” Zandt told ThinkProgress. “We still don’t view it as a larger problem within rape culture.”

When Women Refuse has curated a chilling collection of examples of such violence against women: A New Jersey man allegedly drowned his child in a creek after the baby’s mother broke off their engagement. A South Carolina man reportedly threw a bowling ball at a woman when she turned down his offer to buy her drinks. And just hours after Rodger’s shooting near the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara, a man allegedly fired shots at three women who refused to have sex with him and his friends.

The Tumblr also includes an entry on Yeardly Love, the 22-year-old senior University of Virginia student whose ex-boyfriend beat her to death in an alcohol-fueled rage.

The Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen, which has been used to share the posts on Zandt's site, started trending in the hours after Rodger’s vitriolic manifesto emerged. In that document, Rodgers fumed at women for rejecting his sexual advances, apparently believing the women owed him sex.

Women began tweeting about the sexism they encountered in their daily lives, and has since been used in nearly 1.7 million tweets since March 24, according to social media analytics site Topsy.

Twitter user Maggie Pettit said, “A man was fired after forcing himself on me at work & my co-workers stopped talking to me in case I ‘got’ them fired too #YessAllWomen.” And user FeelTheShaft tweeted, “Because we tell women to watch their drink at the bar instead of telling guys not to drug them #YessAllWomen.”

While some men on social media predictably fired back against #YesAllWomen, a few men chimed in with support, such as NicholasFerroni, who wrote, “A real man will fight for a woman's rights and not just her honor. #YessAllWomen.”

Zandt told ThinkProgess that her site is beginning to show people how common violent acts by spurned men are against women. "There’s been a really positive reaction from both men and women I think it’s been really eye opening for many people," Zandt told ThinkProgress. "The most common response has been — ‘oh my god, I had no idea.’”

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