Why #NotAllMen Absolves Us of Nothing
As men, millions of us need to understand the difference between individual fault and collective responsibility
— As men, millions of us need to understand the difference between individual fault and collective responsibility.
When we call out sexual assault against women as a problem men need to solve, some men use #NotAllMen as a way to avoid responsibility for those violent acts, these men are saying “I don’t commit assault.”
Would that ending assault against women was that simple. The challenge here is that we are also hiding behind #NotAllMen as a way to avoid taking responsibility for our collective silence when some men do locker room talk, cat calling, tell sexist jokes, and commit worse acts. Yes, millions of us don’t actively commit abusive acts against women. But our collective #NotAllMen defensiveness rings strident and off-key given our collective unwillingness to challenge men in our immediate circles who are subtly or openly abusive towards women and non-binary people. Such silence creates a culture in which sexual abusers can easily operate and hide.
Here’s the bottom line. If all men stood up to end violence against women, most of it would be gone tomorrow. This simple fact means we are failing in our collective responsibility, and all the #NotAllMen in the world will not absolve us of this.
Men in comments are going to say, “I’m not responsible for what other men do!” I’m sorry to break the news, but yes. Yes we are. If this was a village and you did nothing about a predatory man, your village would fail.
#NotAllMen allows us an excuse to hide, allowing millions of “good men” to go on remaining silent while women suffer. Instead, we can show boys and men love and respect while also holding ourselves COLLECTIVELY responsible for violence against women, non-binary people, and other men.