Why saying “not all men” is problematic

Not all men , where do I even begin.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the 97 % issue, only 3% of women have not been sexually harassed by men. That’s 97% of women who have suffered, whose voices have been taken away from them. Not all men , it’s a phrase we hear all the time to try& justify the horrible acts of violence committed by men. It’s extremely disappointing that it is being used so much at a time where we need to stand together and make a change.


It’s no wonder that most men find it hard to own up to their and other men’s mistakes, accept responsibility for their decisions, or simply accept blame in feminist discussions. Instead, it is easier to defend themselves and defend other rapists and assaulters. They cannot accept the fact that men are the problem, they felt the need to make up a phrase as a defense mechanism to shutdown and to invalidate victims’ voices, that’s how the phrase ‘not all men’ emerged. When hearing the traumatic experience of a woman, the worst thing you could do at that time is tell her “not all men” are like that.
The “not all men” defense against feminist arguments is infuriating and extremely unhelpful, and all it does is invalidate victims and the survivors’ pain. Her lived experience is more valuable than your ignorance and your attempt to demonstrate that you are not like that. Listen. Be supportive. Show her you care. Men don’t understand that it’s not about them, they are not, for once, the center of discussion. The not-all-men response just completely misses the point of the conversation.


And yes, it might not be all men, not all men are rapists, not all men are assaulters, blah blah blah… but in one way or another all men have made women uncomfortable, have sexualized her, have oppressed her, have objectified her … Check your behavior and question it.
Men have a privilege that they can use to speak up and call out acts of disrespect, or harassment disguised as anything but that, and make a difference but instead too many are using their voice simply to say not all men are like that, not me. The fact that when men hear about violence against women it automatically pushes them to take it as an attack against men and against their masculinity just shows and proves how fragile masculinity is and that every single man is part of the problem. If you’re a man and don’t recognize yourself in the behavior and the horrible acts described by women, then good for you , you’re normal. Discussions about it shouldn’t offend you, it should however push you to call out these men and to behave as allies to women in this to make a change, to amplify women’s voices, examining their own behavior, and not drowning out their conversations in search of praise or validation. Saying ‘not all men’ is making yourself part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.

It’s not men vs women, it’s everyone against assaulters.
Women are violated, abused, and humiliated solely because they are women. Don’t ignore their feelings. Don’t try to defend your ego by blocking out female voices.
Not all men, but enough women to be afraid, to feel unsafe.
Not all men but she’s so terrified when she walks to her car not all men but now its 97 % of women.

On the streets, in an uber , in a taxi, on a bus, on a train,…. By a friend, a family member, a random person.. a 12-year-old, a 23-year-old, a 35-year-old… The “not all men” really is a useless phrase, it doesn’t in any way shape or form clarify anything or add to the discussion. All it does is invalidate and dismiss the experiences and the trauma and the pain lived by all these women. And the sole reason for men to remind us that ‘’, not all men are like that’’, is to show that they are not like that.
Please do NOT use this phrase to invalidate the pain, the trauma , these women have felt, instead, try not to be part of the problem but part of the change.

Written by: Haya Rezk

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