Every feminist on the internet has heard “not all men”-esque arguments when discussing feminist issues, especially the pandemic levels of [cis] male violence against women.
Example: *Feminist posts a photo or meme about the issue of rape culture*
Random Not-All-Men [Cis] Dude:
Did the feminist say all men were rapists or condoned rape? No, they didn’t. Did the feminist say Random Not-All-Men Dude was a rapist or condoned rape? Again, no. The feminist simply said men should be more disgusted with rape than periods. That’s it. Nothing more.
So, why do so many men become ridiculously defensive, and even offended, when feminists discuss the problems faced by women, transfeminine, and other feminine-presenting folx? Well, what these men are trying to do is: one, derail important feminist discussions that happen to make them uncomfortable; and two, distance themselves from the problems facing women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx, which are caused by our systemically androcentric and patriarchal society and perpetuated by men. They want to make it very clear they aren’t part of the problem. They will take over every feminist conversation and every feminist space if need be to make sure we all know they aren’t part of the problem.
In reality, these men are part of the problem. Men who feel entitled to have their feelings coddled by feminism at the expense of the real-life safety concerns of women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx are very much part of the problem. Men who feel entitled to invade feminist spaces and derail conversations about genuinely important issues in order to make those conversations about themselves, or men in general, are definitely part of the problem. Men who feel entitled to verbally bulldoze over women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx so they can make sure everyone knows they’re not a rapist are a huge part of the problem.
When men say, “not all men are like that! I’m not like that!” what they’re really saying is, “I don’t want to have to think about my privilege as a man, so I’m going to defer blame to other guys who I deem to be worse than me.” Nice try. You know what? People who aren’t part of the problem don’t derail conversations in order to convince everyone they aren’t part of the problem. People who aren’t part of the problem simply aren’t part of the problem; their actions speak for themselves. People who aren’t part of the problem don’t need to go around reminding everyone at every opportunity that they aren’t part of the problem.
And let’s be honest, if Random Not-All-Men Dude truly wasn’t part of the problem of rape culture he wouldn’t be offended by a Facebook post criticizing it. His offense is either indicative of his culpability, or it’s just plain childish. Either way, it’s certainly not justified. Instead of doing something about social problems, like rape culture, he just passes the blame. He feels entitled to anything he wants, and in this case, he wants his male privilege preserved, his man feelings to be coddled, to be reassured he’s actually a Nice Guy™, and given gold star stickers for never raping anyone. He views anyone discussing a feminist issue that makes him uncomfortable as a threat to his privilege, because forbid feminists ever make men uncomfortable. It’s not a threat. Not everything is about men or needs to be designed to make men feel good.
And no “not all men” argument would be complete if it didn’t include a bit about what great person they are, and therefore can’t possibly say or do anything sexist. In this case, Random Not-All-Men Dude explains why he isn’t part of the problem because he treats all people “with love and respect…” Unless, of course, they say or do something that makes him uncomfortable, forces him to confront his male privilege, or alludes to the fact he isn’t Mr. Super Male Feminist. Then he’ll just attempt to take over feminist discourse in order to convince everyone he’s never contributed to institutional sexism and never been misogynistic in any way whatsoever. Does this guy even hear himself when he speaks?
Finally, I would like to point out that his use of the word “savages” is extremely problematic. White western [cis] men have had a long history of selectively recognizing sexism, and then categorizing those selective forms of sexism as “barbaric” or “savage.” This allows white western [cis] men to blame other men – i.e., men of colour and non-western men – for all sexism and violence against women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx. White western [cis] men use racism and western imperialism to make sexism and male violence a black and brown person, non-western problem, thus shirking blame for their own sexism and violence toward women, transfeminine, and feminine-presenting folx.