Why Men Should Stop Saying #NotAllMen. Immediately.
Not all Men.
It’s the phrase we hear time and time again, albeit in a very narrow set of circumstances. It’s never used, for example, when male commentators opine on how men are better drivers than women, or men are great at reading maps.
*insert your own tired stereotype here*.
No, for some reason, those that screech #NotAllMen! never seem to take issue with those such generalisations or sweeping statements.
But when women talk about sexual violence and harassment, as they have done in their droves since the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light, you can bet your bottom dollar that men will queue up to take issue with it.
Here’s how it usually goes:
Woman: I’ve been shouted at in the street, groped in nightclubs, assaulted on the tube and was raped by my boyfriend.
Man: Actually, I think it’s important to make clear that not all men are like this. Most men would never behave in such a terrible way. I certainly wouldn’t. Isn’t it a bit sexist to tar all men with the same brush?
The #NotAllMen brigade don’t sincerely think that women talking about the violence we’ve been subjected to at the hands of men are under the impression that every single man on the planet has behaved in a similar way.
That would be, well, a bit silly.
If nearly every woman you know has faced sexual violence or harassment in one form or another throughout her life, then us asking why ‘’men’’ continue to perpetuate this culture, shouldn’t be controversial.
Yes, we KNOW that not every single man is responsible. Yes, we KNOW that you would never do that; and you’ve reminded us enough, thanks.
So #NotAllMen doesn’t clarify anything. It doesn’t add to the discussion or develop it in any way. All it does is derail and dismiss the lived experiences of women and girls. And what the men who leap to remind us that ‘’not all men are like that’’, are actually saying is, ‘’I’m not like that.’’ Or to put it another way, they are letting women know that discussing misogyny makes them uncomfortable, and they’d like to be absolved of any blame before they will let women continue.
Women undertook massive amounts of emotional labour and relived personal trauma in sharing their stories of sexual violence on #MeToo. To ask us to hand out cookies and ‘Well Done For Not Raping Anybody’ badges to men who rush to tell us #NotAllMen, is unreasonable at best, and insulting at worst.
If you are a man and don’t recognise yourself in the behaviour described by women recently, then great. Our discussion of it shouldn’t offend you, or put you on edge. The men who are behaving like allies in this are the ones that are amplifying women’s voices, examining their own behaviour, and not drowning out our conversations in search of praise or validation.
See^. This article is about #NotAllMen. But notice that I am very well aware that not all men use #NotAllMen.
The Harvey Weinstein and Terry Richardson revelations have shone a light on the rape culture that is a real and present danger to women and girls. Of course, women have known this since forever. None of this is new to us. We live it. But what it should have made crystal clear to men is that we’ve got quite enough to be getting on with. That being a woman is a burden and a battlefield a lot of the time.
So please, stop and pause before you leap to remind us #NotAllMen.
And for the love of god, don’t tweet me with a similar sentiment after reading this post.
I’m all out of badges and all out of patience.