Gender Brokenness Trending

mgyPdjWIncreasingly, most of the important cultural conversations are happening 140 characters at a time.

Indeed, trending on twitter has in many ways become the cultural arbiter of what’s being talked about. According to the twitter company fact sheet, 500 million tweets are sent every single day. And many of those tweets are hash-tagged into  conversations. To borrow an idea from writer Andy Crouch, that’s a whole lot of “culture making.”

Over the last several days, the hashtag #YesAllWomen has been trending, as a response to the horrific shootings in Santa Barbara, where a student who felt spurned by women he wished to date went on a shooting rampage, eventually killing 6 in Isla Vista.

According to this Salon.com article, “the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen, which began trending yesterday, has already begun this important conversation. It reminds us that sexism and misogyny exist — in angry, threatening emails, in the workplace, on twitter, in the kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian girls.”

To be sure, reading through #YesAllWomen is a heart-breaking experience. But it’s also instructive. Because in a way, #YesAllWomen represents the adverse effects of a culture gripped my male privilege. Here are some of the many tweets that have grabbed me:

Because when I was sexually harassed in 7th grade they told me “boys will be boys” and that I’m just “naïve”

Someone at a gas station shoved me against my car, stuck their hand up my dress and the cops asked me what i was wearing

Because I am so tired of women having to learn rules for safety when men should be learning rules for behaviour.

Because I just got a comment from a guy saying the shooting spree was God’s just judgment on sinful women.

Because I apologize whenever someone sees me without makeup. and I didn’t realize how stupid that is until just now.

Because my 15 yo daughter hears filthy things yelled at her if she happens to walk past 2 or more men

Because when I want to call out somebody for making a sexist joke or comment online, I worry I’ll burn professional bridges.

And there are more. Thousands and thousands more.

As you read these tweets, what’s your response? Anger? Sadness? Empathy? All of the above?

Personally, I’m reminded of (and consoled by) the words of Psalm 12:

Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing!
    The faithful have vanished from the earth!
Neighbors lie to each other,
    speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts.
May the Lord cut off their flattering lips
    and silence their boastful tongues.
They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content.
    Our lips are our own—who can stop us?”

The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless,
    and I have heard the groans of the poor.
Now I will rise up to rescue them,
    as they have longed for me to do.”
The Lord’s promises are pure,
    like silver refined in a furnace,
    purified seven times over.
Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed,
    preserving them forever from this lying generation,
even though the wicked strut about,
    and evil is praised throughout the land.

Join me in crying out the Lord for intervention!

Commenting on the hashtag, writer Neil Gaiman tweeted, “The #yesallwomen hashtag is filled with hard, true, sad and angry things. I can empathise & try to understand & know I never entirely will.”

Amen. That’s true. As a man, I’ll never fully understand.

Today, I’m just thankful that twitter gives me a chance to understand 140 characters at a time.

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