The “When Women Refuse” Tumblr Is A Reminder Of The Risks Women Run By Saying “No”

“We wanted to make it very clear that violence against women happens every single day.”

1. When Elliot Rodger went on a rampage in Santa Barbara, Calif., last week, it sparked a firestorm of conversation surrounding sexism, women’s bodies, and entitlement.

Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times / MCT

The hashtag #YesAllWomen exploded in the wake of the tragedy, providing a space for women to share their stories of harassment and speak freely about what happens when women dare to govern their own bodies.

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2. From that online event came the Tumblr When Women Refuse.

The title of the Tumblr is fairly self-explanatory: It is a compilation of stories of what sometimes happens when women refuse the advancements and wants of men who feel entitled to women.

The blog was founded by Deanna Zandt, who manages the site along with Lainna Fader, Kate Tull, Kathryn Peters, and Shauna Gordon-McKeon.

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3. “The goal of the Tumblr is to illustrate that Elliot Rodger’s killing spree isn’t an isolated incident,” Fader told BuzzFeed.

Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times / MCT

“There are so many documented accounts of violence against women who refuse sexual advances from men, and countless stories from women who didn’t report them to the police or the media,” she continued. “We wanted to make it very clear that violence against women happens every single day.”

“We kept seeing responses over the weekend that were sort of ‘othering’ Rodger; it’s that guy over there, not one of us,” added Zandt. “Rodger is one of many, and our intent is to create some tapestry showing the connection and volume of these incidents. We still don’t recognize gender-based violence as a deep cultural problem that we all share; largely, we view incidents as individual. They are not.”

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4. The stories are all reader submissions and span from intimate partner violence to street harassment. Some are personal tributes to murdered and abused women.

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6. Others are local stories of men who assaulted women in public when their advances were refused.

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8. Scrolling through the Tumblr is heartbreaking, and the most devastating realization is that with the alarming frequency with which women are punished and penalized for taking ownership of their bodies, it will only keep growing.

Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times / MCT

“I’ve had to walk away from it a few times and take a break,” said Fader of her time spent maintaining the blog. “These are such horrifying, tragic stories, and I’ve found it really difficult to read them in long stretches. I actually caught myself feeling lucky that the worst I’ve experienced is being stalked, harassed, nearly attacked, because it could’ve been so much worse.”

Zandt echoed the complicated experience of feeling “lucky”: “No one should feel lucky that they’ve made it this far in life without antagonizing anyone to kill them. No one.”

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