writes Kate Bisogno
A ‘disclaimer’ before I begin; this is not an anti-men argument filled with callous generalisations surrounding the male species. In fact, in the words of Cher, ‘I love men, I think men are the coolest’. I am also aware that a number of men make it their duty to call out behaviour that both mentally and physically damages women. The issue is, these men seem to be in a minority. A scarily small minority.
What I am trying to do is highlight the truly damaging nature of the phrase ‘not all men’. Of course, it is factually correct to say that not all men assault women, not all men are rapists and not all men are inherently evil. That being said, according to a recent survey by YouGov, 97% of women in the UK are victims of some form of sexual assault. While not all men are criminals, the fact still stands that a large number of women have been sexually assaulted at least once in their lifetime.
It is not the substance of the statement ‘not all men’ that we have an issue with. It is its essence. The statement ‘not all men’ has the same dismissive connotations as that of ‘all lives matter’. By saying ‘not all men’ after a woman has been assaulted or murdered, you are downsizing the issue. You are on the defensive. You automatically look to protect the male ego, instead of trying to fix the problem.
Must we really clarify that not all men are rapists? Would taking accountability and action not be more effective? Take accountability for the times you have sat back and watched while friends made offensive remarks. You may even have been aware that someone had assaulted a woman, yet did nothing about it. Or perhaps you’re just rolling your eyes at those that speak up about sexual assault on social media. That being said, supporting women is not solely about sharing an Instagram story. What good is distributing some facts and figures online if you aren’t a decent human being in real life? The latter is of much greater importance.
The fact that not all men assault women does not call for celebration. Non-rapists do not deserve validation or gratitude. They’re doing the bare minimum. To anyone that possesses this ‘not all men’ mentality; is your masculinity really so fragile that you must immediately defend yourself whenever a woman discusses their experience with assault?
To those who defend and support women – thank you.