It won’t work, will never work, and has never worked. Just stop using it. Seriously.
My friend Johan once told me the story of how a woman scowled at him when he approached her at the mall. All he wanted to do was to tell her that her bag was unzipped.
“Why did she get so angry? You were trying to help her!”
He responded, “It’s okay, I understand. I am a man, anyway. She was probably cautious in case I meant her harm.”
First, they will say, “Boys will be boys.”
Almost everywhere on social media, I see other men (and unfortunately, women too) justifying the harassment and abuse that a woman faces using this weak excuse.
They victim-blame women for trusting the men that violated them. They say the burden should be on women always because they should “know how a man’s eyes and mind work”, as though that counts as a good reason for rape or harassment.
Someone even said that Johan’s story was just a way for him to impress other women. That made me so angry.
Saying that Johan’s kindness was just a way to get into a woman’s pants says a lot about what some men think of themselves and their fellow men, and it’s not great.
Some project their sick nature onto good men because they refuse to be held accountable for their behaviour.
They want the privilege of being able to think/act like predators without the burden of being called one.
“If everyone thinks and acts like me, that means there’s nothing wrong with me.”
At this point, why do women even bother calling out men anymore when some of them are doing an excellent job of showing it themselves. The good ones don’t need to say “not all men” to prove a point.
Using “boys will be boys” only reinforces harmful stereotypes that do not only harm women, but men as well.
And then they will shout, “Not all men!”
Men will put the burden on a woman because “that’s just how guys are”, but then get offended when a woman starts being cautious of them as individuals.
How are you going to argue that women are to blame for the harassment they receive because “boys will be boys”, but then get angry when she lumps you as a predator too? Please explain to me your thought process here.
Far too many times, I have seen men infiltrate women spaces to drop the “Not All Men” bomb by doing the following:
#1 — They hijack conversations about harassment/violence more concerned about how victims are expressing anger to men.
#2 — Their first response to a rape victim, or a rape incident, is “I hope you know that not all men are like that”.
#3 — They speak over the experiences of women to defend the image of men, instead of acknowledging the problematic acts of their brothers.
It only makes you irresponsible for derailing the topic of women’s issues. You are not solving any problems by stating the obvious. You are adding to it by dismissing valid concerns.
You can argue “not all men” all you want — you’re not wrong. But please don’t if it is not your space to do so!
Good men never have to use “not all men”.
When a woman reacted negatively to Johan’s help, instead of getting annoyed that she lumped him together with problematic men, he just shrugged it off because he understood her worries. He didn’t need her to acknowledge what he did because he was sincere.
Johan is one of the few men that I can trust with my life. He respects his female friends, takes care of them, and protects them. He calls out the problematic behaviour of other men. If “not all men” were a person, Johan would be it.
So the next time you see a woman telling her experience of abuse, harassment, or violence, do not come into her space to tell her not all men are the same.
The “Not All Men” excuse does not work for the simple reason we already know that. What we want to know is what you’re doing about it.
This article was originally published on Fearless She Wrote.