In the wake of a series of hate-crimes perpetrated against women, among them the Boko Haram kidnapping of Nigerian students and the murder of women by Elliot Rogers because of his imagined “rejection” by all of womenkind, the #YesAllWomen hashtag has sprung up, and done wonderful, important work bringing to the surface all of the ways in which being a woman makes life harder, more frustrating and more dangerous every single day.
In response to this supportive community that seeks to understand the troubles of an oppressed part of soceity, we have the nasty, whiny voice of “#NotAllMen”. The implicit protest of “Not All Men” is But I Didn’t Do It! and by extension it’s not fair for you to complain that people with whom I am associated through something beyond my choice as a group all do this. Funny, that you’re protesting that, when #YesAllWomen is protesting those moments when women are treated as less than human because of their belonging to a group they did not choose.
Why is honesty about misogyny so distasteful? Why do people try to deny that Elliot Roger was a misogynist?
I was born after slavery was abolished, and yet I would never hesitate to say that white people were responsible for slavery, even though I am white. It was a disgusting practice, an awful abuse of fellow humans, and a dark, dark blot on human history, and white people were responsible for it. We don’t have #NotAllWhitePeople tag for racism and race-related oppression, because we have grown out of that kind of petty “but it wasn’t me” complaining. What will it take for that to fly for misogyny as well?
Men are responsible for misogyny. Saying this does not implicate every single man in acts of misogyny, just as saying white people are responsible for slavery doesn’t make every white person a racist, or a slave owner.
I read all of Elliot Roger’s disgusting 140+ page manifesto, and he states again and again that women are ‘animals’ and he is going to get revenge on them for rejecting him. It is in black and white. What’s more, it’s textbook misogyny; Elliot was upset that he could not control his sexual desire for women, and blamed women for that desire, and for not being his slaves in fulfilling it. In the whole manifesto, he doesn’t describe a single conversation with a woman who is not his mother or stepmother. It reeks of entitlement. Elliot believed that he deserved whatever he wanted, because he was ‘superior’. Rich, middle-class white male. He believed, specifically, that he deserved women because he desired them.
So, the #NotAllMen contingent, I suggest that you grow up, and try to see beyond your own petty indignance that women are daring to speak up about the way they are treated, and try to imagine what it must be like. Read the #YesAllWomen posts. Ask yourself if you would like to live in a world where you are afraid every time you walk home alone, where you always have a contingency plan if you find yourself alone with a man, where you walk home with your keys between your knuckles in case someone grabs you, and where you are not allowed to protest that these things are unfair without being branded as making a fuss.
You as individuals may not be responsible for each individual problem, but as individuals you can take on some of the responsibility for the solution.