In the wake of the Isla Vista killings last May, the hashtag #YesAllWomen exploded on Twitter, a response to the shooter’s manifesto revealing a deep-seated misogyny and sense of entitlement to sex. Of course, not all men are rapists, abusers, or sexist, but the point of #YesAllWomen is that every woman has been subject to cultural misogyny at one point or another. This was a way for women across social media to share personal examples of this; more than one million tweets bore the hashtag in the four days after Isla Vista alone.
Social movements and shared symbols can be fluid, particularly in the Internet age. In the year since it entered widespread use, #YesAllWomen has become more than just an expression of shared pain and frustration. It is a representation of solidarity and a call to action. Change the inflection of the three words and they can go from somber to rousing. It’s in that spirit that the #YESALLWOMEN project advances, and it’s partnered with the East Los Angeles Women’s Center to bring tangible aid to women in need right here at home.
#YESALLWOMEN describes itself as “an immersive experience, fusing art and activism.” On Saturday, September 19, the project will be hosting a live exhibition and art auction at Dilettante in the Arts District. Proceeds from the evening will go towards the ELAWC (the project is also running a GoFundMe campaign for the Center). The works available in the auction come courtesy of a wide variety of female artists and run the gamut from photography to painting to graphic text. Current bids start as low as $100 for Favianna Rodriguez’s Pussy Power and climb as high as $30,000 for an untitled piece by Barbara Kruger. The event itself will also showcase exhibitions from Amanda Demme, Kim Gordon, Kathleen Hanna, Drue Kataoka, Jannike Sommar, and Linda Vallejo.
In the run-up to the auction, #YESALLWOMEN will feature various writers and performers meditating on the namesake hashtag: Actress Rose McGowan, the evening’s emcee, will show the trailer for her short film, Dawn; Rain and Summer Phoenix will read a selection of Tweets from the movement; There will be spoken word pieces, poetry readings, and performance pieces; Deap Vally will play some of her music. It’s a vibrant cross-section of contemporary feminist art.
All of this is for the benefit of the ELAWC, which has worked in Los Angeles for nearly 40 years. It has a 24-hour bilingual crisis hotline for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as “24-hour accompaniment to local hospitals, individual and group counseling, clinical and therapeutic parenting programs, court and law enforcement accompaniment and advocacy, support services for children, family, and friends of survivors, self-defense workshops in local high schools, community colleges, and neighborhood venues, community education, and professional trainings” among many other services. This is worthy art in support of a worthy cause. The benefit kicks off at 7 p.m. on September 19 (although VIPs can get in at 6 p.m.). If you can’t make it, here are some other ways you can support the ELAWC.