In my senior year of high school, I took a Multicultural and Human Rights class. During Women’s History month, we solely discussed the wide spectrum of women’s issues, ranging from body autonomy to gender-based violence. My teacher did a wonderful job creating a safe space, that on the last day, all the girls in the class felt comfortable to share their experiences of misogyny, sexism, microaggressions, objectification, and much more. Each of our experiences was so different, yet we all related to one another and found ourselves repeating, “yeah, that happened to me too.” The point that connected our afflictions and tribulations always lead back to men and living in a heteronormative patriarchal society that cradles them.
Obviously, not all men are treated the same. Obviously, not all men are committing heinous crimes against women. But it is enough men to make women and those who experience misogyny be cautious of all of them. Cartoonist Lily O’Farrell, who goes by @vulgadrawings on Instagram, created an illustration of the tick analogy by @kristinamaione, who explained why the “not all men” argument does nothing to further the conversation. However, I am tired of coddling men and pandering to them in a way that makes them feel comfortable in this type of conversation. Every single man benefits by being raised in an inherently sexist society that supports misogynistic behavior and perpetuates violence against women. If you are not the man sexually harassing a woman, you have either made a joke about it, have been associated with someone who has, or doesn’t say anything or put a stop to it.
Men also treat women they are attracted to far better than those they don’t. Women who go against patriarchal norms, or refuse to serve male interests as they are “expected” to, are always confronted with misogynistic behavior. Men are rejected by a woman and the first thing they do is shout out insults and insist they weren’t really interested.
All men are also explicitly hard on women of color, especially Black women. Writer and feminist scholar Moya Bailey coined the term “misogynoir” in a 2010 essay titled “They aren’t talking about me….” A concept that combines “misogyny” and the French word for black, “noir,” Baily describes misogynoir as “the particular brand of hatred directed at black women in American visual & popular culture.” this type of misogyny rooted in racism has lead to some many harmful stereotypes and mistreatment that can ultimately cost a person their life. The white supremacy that is still upheld makes men think they’re entitled to their violence.
I have yet to meet a woman who, at the very least, has not been made uncomfortable by a man’s presence. Whenever I am alone on a walk, I make sure I have something in my hands, whether it is keys between my fingers or a metal water bottle, just in case I’m attacked. I knew people who carried pepper spray in middle school because they had to walk and wait for the public bus. Daniela, one of FIU’s contributors, wrote a great article “Womanhood 101: Otherwise Unnecessary Things I Have to do for my Safety,” detailing what she, and I imagine other women do, to protect themselves. Maria, another FIU contributor, also wrote “Why Sarah Everard’s Story is so Important to Discuss,” a must-read article about gender-based violence and rampant sexual harassment.
Men need to stop arguing that “it’s not all men” because all that accomplishes is centering men and their feeling and disregarding women. Saying “it’s not all men” makes you one of those men contributing to the issue.