Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Not All Men"

There is a feminist meme referred to as Not All Men.  It mocks men who don't want to be demonized and associated with rapists.  The idea is that when people are chastising all men as a demographic and calling them out as the source of almost all that is wrong in the world, "it's not helpful" for a man to suggest that not all men are evil.  In fact, it's asserted that such a defense is counter productive to the discussion.

That's exactly what it is- a defense.  A defense is needed because men are being attacked.  Whether a particular male involved in the discussion is part of the problem or not doesn't matter, all males are at fault.  Men are collectively called out as evil, as rapists, as misogynists, as being at fault for women making less, and a variety of other issues.  For sure, there are many men who are evil, rapists, misogynists and so on.  But lumping all men into a single category so they are easier to hate, rather than treating people like individuals, isn't helpful to advancing women's rights.  It puts men on the defensive.  It gives men the option of either being self-loathing or anti-feminism.  That's a terrible choice.

Statistics support that men are more violent than women.  Males are more likely to rape, to murder, to mug, to rob, to assault than women.  This isn't new, nor is it an American problem.  This has been the state of things in all cultures since the beginning of recorded history.  It's fact based and well-known.

Let's draw an analogy.  In the US young black males are 7 times as likely to commit violent crimes than young white men.  Does that mean I should assume all black men are gang members that are going to try to rob me?  Of course it doesn't, that's racism.  If in a discussion a black man tells me "not all blacks are gangstas" should I mock him for suggesting that?  Should I create posters mocking that very idea with the Kool-Aid man on them?  No, because that's obviously racist.  I should treat people like individuals, not lump them into categories so they are easier to demonize as a group.

The "Not all men" meme is sexist.  It's not advancing a cause, it's putting good men who are sympathetic and supportive of equality and feminist ideals on the defensive.  When people are defensive they are more likely to act irrationally, to react with anger.  Modern feminism constantly accusing all men of being evil is the driving force behind the manosphere.  Men feel defensive and have a need to fight back against what they feel are unjust accusations.  The manosphere is an awful, self-important, misogynist corner of the internet.  And it's growing because men feel attacked and look to it for support.  The manosphere is a place where terrible people can feel more normal.  I assert it only exists in its current incarnation as a backlash from accusatory feminism.  That sort of mentality has always existed, but it's growing quite quickly in recent years.  That's a problem.  

There has been a recent push to raise awareness with the #yesallwomen hashtag.  I'm not sure what awareness is being raised for that people don't already know, exactly.  It's in response to a recent mass stabbing / shooting in California, where 3 people were murdered by knife and 3 by a handgun.  (more were injured and the majority of victims were male, btw)  The killer was a vocal misogynist, so that must be the impetus.

Awareness is good.  It's why I have this blog.  I like to perhaps bring some information to people who may not have it.  I hope that someone will occasionally read something I've written and be inspired to do more research on a topic.  That's my main goal with writing here.  I hope that people who come to read about gun topics will also read my posts on the police state.  I hope that people who come to read about the advancing police state will also read about social issues and an open minded approach to such.  I hope people who come to read about social issues will read a post or two about why gun rights are important.  Maybe someone will think of a topic in a more open-minded way because of something I've written.

What is a hashtag campaign doing?  Are they ever effective?  I think they can be, when they get people interesting in a topic they don't know about.  The Snowden revelations have shown us just how much our government is spying on everyone, which was a real eye-opener.  Getting awareness of that changed how many people think about national security and spying capabilities of a huge government.

But what about #bringourgirlsback?  Did that generate more awareness of an issue that has been going on for hundreds of years in Africa than news coverage?  It maybe did.  Did it do anything to bring back kidnapped girls?  Nope.  What about #kony2012?  Well, Kony is still at large.  It did nothing to help people. Sometimes words don't help.  When violent men with guns do something terrible, it often takes other violent men with guns to have an effect.  (which is why we have police and military) It sucks, but it's the way of the world currently.

So what is #yesallwomen going to achieve?  Is there someone who doesn't know that violence against women is a problem?  If so they have their head in the sand.  In Pakistan and other middle-eastern countries it's a common occurrence to kill women to protect a man's honor.   Violence against women is terrible and everywhere and sadly always has been.  So, if there is a person that either doesn't realize this or doesn't care, is a hashtag going to enlighten them or change their mind?  I'm rather skeptical.  I view it as cheerleading at best, a way to rally supporters of a cause, and masturbation at it's worst, making people feel like they are doing something when it's only self-serving.

What is the way to reach people and get them to consider your viewpoint?  Through kindness.  Through reason.  By reaching out to people as individuals.  By helping them understand your position it can open their mind to accepting it.  That's the only way to sway people without brainwashing or propaganda.

In that spirit, I'm going to offer something for any feminists who read this post.  When we consider why young males commit crimes, especially crimes against women, we can then start to understand how to stop them.  Rather than demonize a young man, let's understand what motivates him so we can understand how to fix that.  I think hormones can play a huge role.  I'm going to suggest that many males have a biologic imperative to breed.  It's constant and ferocious.  And asking a 18 year old boy to not want to fuck is going to be as successful as telling a young woman with PMS to not be emotional.  We are biological beings, and our biologies can drive us, make us do and feel things we normally don't.  Hormones, especially in young people, can drive actions that aren't rational.  Stern words and chastising aren't going to stop that.  Nurturing and helping people find outlets can.  I'm in no way justifying men who commit terrible acts, only suggesting that understanding why should be the first step to stopping them.  Because the approach we are taking today by telling men they suck and promoting awareness isn't.

If you'd like a rational take on the most recent mass murder in California mentioned earlier that is driving this most recent hashtag campaign, I highly recommend this analysis.

Stay safe out there.


  1. Pete, thanks for this - these were my thoughts exactly when I first heard of the 'not all men' meme. I really don't see why a simple qualifier or disclaimer is being demonized as "derailing" a discussion. In academic discourse, caveats and qualifiers are *regular* aspects of any argument. I do ultimately agree with the idea that such a qualifier doesn't advance the conversation, but the fact that a huge campaign of mockery has emerged in response to it is disturbing. People are now claiming that it is a "every dude's" defense against sexism - I agree with your finding completely: it's not usually a defense, just a disclaimer. Sexism is very much alive and real with some men, but using language that suggests that all are biologically prone to perpetrate sexism rather than it being a cultural phenomenon is counterproductive. This is an unfortunate, greater phenomenon of today, however. For example, I first heard of the term 'mansplaining' in the last year, and had a minor argument with the person who used it. To paraphrase, and perhaps add my internal dialogue to the actual conversation, they said that it means explaining something in a condescending, excessively detailed manner. Do I do that, I asked? No, they said, not all men do this, it's just something that many do. But a woman can also be guilty of mansplaining, they said. Oh, I said, so not all men do this? And even some women? Why is it called mansplaining? Why don't we call it blacksplaining? I mean, if some black people do it, but not all of them, and also some people of other races? Oh, because that's obviously racist? I asked rhetorically. Apparently it's not good enough in this world to be someone who is not doing anything wrong and is not at all supportive of the 'system' that is purportedly in place. For example, one can say that all Nazis were bad because, by nature of their being Nazis, it means they joined a group with similar interests. Their political support of the regime made them implicit in the infamous crimes that are still well-known today. There is no similar association of men, however; to be a male one is simply born, there is no agency in the matter. I personally do not, by nature of association, support male hierarchies - in fact I struggle to defy them. But, since I was born this way, I am now demonized by some as an enemy. As you say, this feeling of being demonized has caused many men to feel like their backs are against the wall, and many are becoming enemies of feminism. This will not happen with me - I only hope that a campaign to temper inflammatory feminist arguments will soon emerge as well.
    It is very unfortunate that the more stubborn, radical feminists of today are alienating their allies (many of whom, like myself, also call themselves feminists); the people who really need to be addressed are the ones who would absolutely come nowhere near feminist discussions.

  2. Edit: "defense of sexism" rather than "defense against sexism" near the beginning of my previous comment.

  3. I appreciate the well thought out comment Harry. I've had the same discussion with friends who have used the term "mansplaining" in years past. To me terms like that are divisive and do not attract people to the cause of equal rights.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond, I appreciate the addition of your thoughts on the subject.