It is no surprise that as a part of feminist conversations, most men find it hard to own up, take responsibility for their actions or just accept the blame. Instead, it is easier to defend themselves, fight and accuse feminists of being misandrists or ‘feminazis’. The phrase #NotAllMen has emerged out of these ideas and resolves to exclude men from any liability against their actions and actions of fellow men.
Here are 6 reasons why #NotAllMen takes us further away from the important conversations about Gender Equality:
1) It makes women’s movements about men.
Newsflash! Not everything revolves around men and masculinity. For once, men are not the centre of discussion here. Yes, we know not all men are rapists, not all men are abusers – but in more ways than one, all hetero-cis men have and currently participate in the oppression of women.
2) It shows that you don’t care about women’s rights.
“But men are abused too” – “Not all of us are like that” – “But what about men?”
If you are reminded of men’s rights and issues every time and only when women talk about theirs, guess what? You care about neither. Addressing violence and abuse against men is important. Men’s issues are important – don’t trivialise their significance by using them as bait to avoid the uncomfortable conversation of violence against women.
3) It dismisses the experiences of women.
If a woman is sharing an uncomfortable and traumatic experience with you, the worst thing you can do at the time is tell her not all men are like that. Her lived experience is more important than your ignorance and your half-pleading attempt to show that YOU are not like that. Listen. Empathise. Probably don’t say anything at all.
4) It proves how fragile the notion of masculinity is.
If hearing about violence against women automatically pushes you to think it’s an attack against men and prove how not all men would do that, you’re a bigger part of the problem than you’ve realised. The whole idea of ‘nice’ men is problematic. Who are nice men? Men who are polite and civil? Men who don’t molest, rape or abuse women? Is masculinity so fragile that men require validation and gratitude every time they show half-decent behaviour?
5) It shows that you don’t want to change.
By saying #NotAllMen, what you’re doing is telling us that because not all men are abusers, they do not engage in and are not responsible for the everyday oppression of women. It would take another thread to show all the reasons why that’s false. Check your behaviour. Question your decisions. Have you ever, consciously or unconsciously made someone uncomfortable? Do you indulge in ‘locker room talks’, casual sexism or actively perpetuate stereotypes against women? Do you think all women are poor drivers? How many times do you get up to take food without a woman handing it to you? #YesAllMen – Check yourself.
6) It completely misses the point of the conversation.
It is not a woman’s mission in life to demean or attack men every chance she gets. We are not born as man-haters. It may have missed your notice but most sexual offenders are men, and while you may not be one of them – enough people are. Women are violated, abused and humiliated for the sole reason that they are women. Don’t invalidate our emotions. Don’t drown female voices in an attempt to protect your ego.
Smashing the Patriarchy is important for both men and women. But if you need that reminder every time a woman questions or calls out a man, you are not an ally.
#NotAllMen maybe your battle cry, #YesAllWomen is ours.
Featured image used for representative purpose only. Image source: Gender Focus