Trigger Warning: harassment, abuse, assault, rape.
Saying ‘not all men’ doesn’t help. We know it’s not all (cis) men, but all men benefit from the ‘bad’ ones because it lowers the bar on behaviour. Oh, you don’t harass or rape people? Not violating another human doesn’t make you a ‘nice guy’, it just makes you normal.
Saying ‘not all men’ doesn’t erase the hundreds of unsolicited dick pics and sexual messages I’ve received from men. It doesn’t stop the men I’ve blocked from continuing to harass me months after I’ve said no. It doesn’t make me forget that men breach my boundaries every day without consent yet society still deems them to be ‘nice guys’.
Saying ‘not all men’ doesn’t make me feel safe when I’m alone in public. It didn’t give me comfort when a man stared at me the entire time I was in Starbucks last week. It didn’t prevent me feeling uncomfortable under his gaze or stop me worrying he would approach me or follow me home.
Saying ‘not all men’ doesn’t stop me dreading going outside every day. Anticipating that yet another man will catcall me on my walk or say something crude as I just try and go about my day in peace. It doesn’t make me safe to walk home from the train at night, or allow me to go for a run wearing headphones.
We know it’s ‘not all men’, but when we have bad experiences with men every single day of our lives and all it takes is one to abuse, rape or kill us…saying ‘not all men’ doesn’t help. Cis men are in a position of privilege and saying ‘not all men’ instead of listening and helping compounds the problem.
We all need to stop saying:
• Boys will be boys
• She/they were asking for it (this is victim blaming)
• Victims need to protect themselves (telling potential victims not to get drunk, cover up etc will not stop men from committing the violations!)
We all need to start saying:
• Boys/men are responsible for their actions
• She/they were an innocent victim
• Men need to learn body autonomy and consent
If you are a cis man, use your privilege to help. Call out your friends when they make rape jokes. Step in if a man is making someone uncomfortable on the bus. Talk to the men and boys in your life about consent and boundaries. We know it’s not all men, but if you feel the need to say ‘not all men’ you are, in fact, one of those men.