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But Not All Men

TW - Violence Against Women, S***** Assault, R*pe, Domestic V*******, Sexism.

We acknowledge that gender based discrimination and violence happens against all genders, however this article will focus on gender based discrimination and violence against women.

All women have been in this situation. We’re telling our friends about the time we walked home late at night and were concerned about a strange man close to us.

“I crossed the road and got my pepper spray ready. I made sure I was prepared in case he attacked me.”

But not all men

No matter what story we share with people about being afraid or trying to protect ourselves from men, there is always that one person who feels the need to say this eye rolling phrase.

But what does this mean? And why does this phrase cause so many women to roll our eyes?

Where the phrase came from

The phrase "not all men" has been used for years as a defence mechanism in discussions about gender inequality. It emerged in response to conversations highlighting the pervasive nature of harassment, discrimination and violence against women. Its intention is to distance individuals from the negative actions of some men and assert that not all men are culpable for these issues.

However, it's crucial to understand that the phrase "not all men" did not emerge from a vacuum. It often arises from a misunderstanding of the purpose behind discussing gender-related problems. While its intent may be to defend men who do not engage in harmful behaviour, its effect can be harmful to productive discourse.

Debunking Not All Men

Let's get real for a moment and debunk this "not all men" notion, because it's about time we confront the uncomfortable truths.

Understanding the Perception

One common misconception is that when women talk about sexism, they are claiming that all men are inherently sexist or potential rapists. Let's be clear; that's not the case. Women are not suggesting that every man walks around with a hidden agenda to perpetuate gender inequality. What we are saying is that all women have, at some point in their lives, experienced sexism, harassment, or assault by men. It's not about accusing every man; it's about acknowledging the shared experiences of women.

Men Benefiting from the Patriarchy

One common misconception is that when women speak out about gender-based issues, they are accusing all men of being oppressors. However, the reality is more nuanced. Gender inequality, rooted in patriarchy, is a systemic issue that has existed for centuries. It's not about blaming individual men, but recognizing that society, historically, has favoured men in various ways.

Women don't seek to overpower men or make them experience the same oppression women face. Instead, the goal is to create a society where all genders are equal, with the same opportunities, rights, and respect. It's about dismantling the structures that have historically disadvantaged women, without seeking to oppress men in return.

Microaggressions Against Women

Microaggressions are subtle, often unintentional acts or comments that perpetuate stereotypes or biases. For example, telling a woman she's "too emotional" when expressing her feelings, while a man expressing his feelings, usually in the form of anger, is seen as “passionate”. Other examples of microaggressions include (but aren’t limited to):

Mansplaining: When a man condescendingly explains something to a woman, assuming she lacks knowledge or expertise in the subject, even when she is well-informed.

Body Policing: Commenting on a woman's appearance, weight, or clothing choices in a way that objectifies or criticises her, rather than focusing on her ideas or abilities.

Interrupting or Talking Over: Consistently interrupting or talking over women during conversations, meetings, or discussions, which can silence their voices and ideas.

Microinequities: Small, subtle behaviours that convey unequal treatment, such as excluding women from important conversations, making sexist jokes, or failing to acknowledge their accomplishments.

Underestimating Abilities: Assuming women are less capable in certain fields or tasks due to gender stereotypes, leading to limited opportunities for career advancement.

Gendered Task Assignments: Expecting women to take on traditional gender roles, such as office housework or planning social events, without considering their professional roles and responsibilities.

Assuming Maternity Plans: Presuming a woman's career goals or life choices based on her age or marital status, especially related to motherhood.

Ageism and Appearance: Criticising women for looking too young or too old for their age, contributing to age-related bias and insecurity.

These microaggressions are deeply ingrained in society, and they contribute to a hostile environment for women.

When the phrase "But not all men" is used in response to discussions about microaggressions, it can silence women and undermine their experiences. It's crucial to understand that recognizing and addressing these issues is not an attack on all men but a step toward a more inclusive and respectful society.

Silencing Women

One of the most significant problems with "But not all men" is that it can inadvertently silence women. When women share their experiences and frustrations regarding gender inequality, this phrase can deflect attention away from the issue. It shifts the focus from addressing the systemic problems to reassuring men that they are not personally responsible.

Instead of silencing women, we should be actively listening to their experiences, empathising with their struggles, and working together to address the root causes of gender inequality.

The Bigger Picture

Debunking "not all men" is not about vilifying men. It's about challenging the status quo, fostering empathy, and recognizing that dismantling gender inequality requires collective effort. Men can be allies in this fight by actively listening to women's experiences, educating themselves about the issues, and speaking out against sexism and harassment. It's not an attack; it's an invitation to be part of the solution.

Yes, all women

Women face daily challenges as they strive to lead normal lives, pursue their goals, and meet societal expectations. For instance, during commutes to work, school, or university, women often feel compelled to employ an array of safety measures. We rely on navigation apps, ensuring that a parent or friend can come to our aid in case we encounter street harassment, abduction, or even the threat of sex trafficking.

Even when taking a simple stroll, we carry pepper sprays and pocket knives, ready to defend ourselves if we face harassment. We restrict our outings to well-lit and crowded areas after dark, yet these precautions don't guarantee our safety.

UN Statistics on Violence Against Women

The United Nations has been at the forefront of collecting and disseminating data on violence against women. Their numbers tell a compelling, albeit grim, story:

Physical or Sexual Violence: Globally, 1 in 3 women has experienced physical or sexual violence, most often by an intimate partner. This means that if you're in a room with three women, statistically, one of them has been a victim.

Rape: 1 in 10 women worldwide has experienced forced intercourse or other sexual acts by an intimate partner or someone else.

Sexual Harassment: A staggering 70% of women worldwide have experienced some form of sexual harassment.

Domestic Violence: Approximately 1 in 3 women globally have been subjected to physical, sexual or emotional violence by an intimate partner, often resulting in severe physical and emotional consequences.

Every single woman has had a bad experience with a man - whether it being catcalled on the street to being raped.

Every. Woman.

Some women are afraid of men due to trauma, so instead of making the conversation about men, please remember to listen, respect, and understand.

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