There Are No Good Men
Entrepreneur and black liberation activist Marissa Jenae Johnson said, “There are no good white people.” Before all of the white people reading this become defensive, she clarified her statement by explaining that branding yourself or other white people as “one of the good ones” can lead to a lack of accountability for the racial biases that you still carry inside of you, and even if you think you don’t have any of those, (you do, as do I), you run the risk of letting yourself off the hook for not doing more to change the systems of racism and inequality in our society. Just because you think you are not actively working to discriminate against people of color doesn’t mean that you are “good”.
I bring up Ms. Johnson’s statement because it translates well to the growing trend of men who wish to remind women (and other men), that “not all men” are misogynists or rapists. Hannah Gadsby referenced this when she talked about “…the line in the sand that is inevitably drawn whenever a good man talks about bad men. ‘I am a good man, here is the line, there are all the bad men.’”
I would argue similarly to Marissa Jenae Johnson and say that there is no such thing as a “good” man primarily because the “not all men” argument does many things, none of which are helpful.
First, the “not all men” argument sends any given conversation away from the genuine problem and instead re-centers the conversation around how the “good” men feel about the conversation. For example, someone may explain that they have been sexually harassed by the men at their workplace, only for a “good” man to interrupt and say essentially, “I would never sexually harass someone at my workplace.” and suddenly we’re talking about Kyle or whoever instead of addressing the very real problem of workplace sexual harassment.
The reactions of “good” men in these moments are defensive and childish. They are motivated by a need to feel good about oneself instead of a desire to help others. Thinking of yourself in the exact moment that you should be focusing your attention on making sure others are safe and cared for shows an intense lack of empathy.
Second, assertions that certain men are “good” may not even be true. What determines a person’s goodness is extremely subjective. The metrics…