Project: When Women Refuse Tumblr


Finally getting around to writing about a project I’ve been working on for the last few weeks: When Women Refuse. A couple days into the conversation around #YesAllWomen after Elliot Rodger‘s Santa Barbara shooting spree, my close friend Deanna Zandt decided to create a Tumblr documenting news stories specifically about what happens to women who refuse the sexual advances of men. (More about the project backstory here.) I jumped in to help moderate the Tumblr, along with Kate Tull, Kathryn Peters, and Shauna Gordon-McKeon while flying back to NYC from LA late on May 26, and we launched the next morning.


The project was written up in Marie Claire, Huffington Post, Fusion, Think Progress, Policy Mic, Al Jazeera America, and the Washington Post, among others. I was interviewed by Buzzfeed and The Third Wave (CHUO 89.1FM in Ottawa).

From the Buzzfeed story:

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

“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.”

We did a deep dive into the data about 24 hours into the project. The response (in terms of traffic and engagement) was incredible. Per Google Analytics:


The most encouraging stat is average session durationclearly people are reading through these stories rather than bouncing after scanning a post or two. 200k page views in 24 hours is pretty astounding.


Twitter ( was by far the largest driver of traffic, followed by Jezebel, Think Progress, and Facebook. Those who came to the Tumblr via Fusion and Think Progress stayed the longest; reddit users didn’t hang around long. (Completely unsurprising that reddit engagement was minimal, ha.) As Deanna pointed out in her blog, search wasn’t a big factor for us; people came to our Tumblr because they specifically sought it out.

A Couple Notes on the Project

First, a massive hug to my co-mods Deanna, Kate, Katy, and Shauna. Deanna’s seasoned with this kind of work but I’m not sure the rest of us fully knew what we were getting into, in terms of the emotional toll it would take to run this thing. I definitely underestimated it and had to take some time off for self-care. The content on WWR is obviously pretty difficult to stomachhow many stories can you read about women being beaten/raped/murdered in one sitting?so having such a strong support system in place was critical for the success of this project.

That said, we’ve all committed to continuing the Tumblr. We’re STILL getting story submissions, several weeks after we started accepting them. The sheer volume of submissions goes to show that violence against women is a serious, deeply-rooted cultural problem. So please keep sending us links. We’re still reading and posting to drive the point home.