Only minutes after news broke of the devastating violence in Isla Vista, Calif., on May 23, social media began to overflow with grief and outrage. It was no shock that thousands on Twitter were horrified by yet another act of gun violence, particularly one with misogynistic overtones. The real surprise was the global conversation that came next, all thanks to one simple hashtag.
#YesAllWomen has elicited more than 1 million tweets since Friday, shedding light on the threats and violence that a majority of women endure daily. The trending topic was started by one young woman in response to #NotAllMen, a hashtag that sought to contextualize the actions of alleged killer Elliot Rodger as an aberration. Through #YesAllWomen, women shared arresting stories to the contrary; plenty of women do experience (and fear) domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment every day, simply because they’re women.
The hashtag also begat #YesAllWhiteWomen, which highlighted marginalized voices in the movement and challenged those who seek to silence them or speak for others. Together, they revived long-standing questions in the feminist community: Who gets to define women’s experiences of discrimination and violence? What weight do we give those stories in our society? How can we use storytelling to channel anger into activism?
With those in mind, we called on smart women who are well known for raising their voices online to share essential reads post-#YesAllWomen. Their picks—both novels and nonfiction—illuminate discrimination, give voice to the disenfranchised, and offer lessons for healing after unfathomable tragedy. Check out their recs and add your own suggestions in the comments.