Should the #NotAllMen argument go die in a fire?
The last few months have been amazing for feminism (AKA gender equality, in case you needed the definition). Voices all over have been unafraid to speak out and men and women scattered across the straight line or rainbow-colored spectrum have put in their two cents. There have been words of support and stories shared across the globe—but there have been arguments, debates and trivialities raised as well.
Usually used during moments when women point out the flaws of men (more often than not followed by a personal experience with said gender), one such argument can be summed up in three words: not all men.
#NotAllMen is counterproductive to the #MeToo movement
Not all men are rapists or rape apologists. Not all men are womanizers. It is not every man that will cheat, lie and cat call. Sometimes you’ll even come across a superior at work that won’t look at your ass as you walk by. There are men out there who will see a beautiful girl and they will not make inappropriate comments. They will not point out that she is, indeed, beautiful. They will not tell her to smile or call her Miss or ask for her name or her number; they will leave her the fuck alone.
Valid? Yes. But this three-word argument deserves a one-word answer: obviously.
I gave a few straight male friends of mine a simple situation and asked an even simpler question. I told them, “If you came across a tweet that said ‘Men are trash,’ would you raise the ‘Not all men’ argument?”
Four out of five of them said yes. Four out of five of them said generalizing an entire gender is wrong. The one left out said that while he agrees a sweeping generalization is a mistake, saying #NotAllMen is counterproductive to the #MeToo movement—to which I say, “Amen.”
“Well what if I said ‘women are sluts’?”
I told them the statement is not meant to generalize. I explained that by saying “men are trash,” we do not mean all men are trash and that we acknowledge that there are still nice guys out there. One out of them argued by asking, “Well what if I said ‘women are sluts’?” Another said rephrasing would solve the issue.
To be completely honest, I understand their argument and I understand why they get so riled up. If you’re being attacked, you go on defensive mode. Are we not the same when Filipinos are generalized as illiterate maids? Do we not feel offended when our schools and universities are stereotyped as spoiled, dumb-but-rich, poor or unattractive?
It’s the same shit—but then again, it is also a shitstorm of logic and sensitivity.
Arguing that “not all men” simplifies and tries to silence an incredibly bigger conversation. Pointing out your exception does not help rid the world of sexism and misogyny—it just strengthens it. Putting a pretty bow on a gift and tagging it “From: nice men” does not negate the fact that there are men who do deserve a gun pointed to their head.
Men, now is not the time to alienate yourselves and point out that you are not one of them—we are well aware of this; our intelligence is not so simple that we think in absolutes. You see, we don’t need a debate; we need allies. Instead of arguing against us, speak and act out with us instead.
Women, be careful with your words; the world is a sensitive place and toxic masculinity is alive and well. Explain carefully and patiently that while #NotAllMen, it is, in fact #AllWomen. And keep in mind that when we listen and do our best to understand, we should not do so exclusively for our gender and orientation.
Art Alexandra Lara
Painting Fernando Amorsolo