All men. Yes, all men. ALL FUCKING MEN.
Every goddamn one of us is responsible for perpetuating rape culture.
Every one of us was born into a society which holds misogynistic standards aloft as the norm. We were born into that. It surrounded us. It shaped and influenced us whether we want it to or not. All men have absorbed that poison.
Not all men will rape. Not all men will beat their partners. But all men will benefit from their privilege within the patriarchy. All men will. ALL MEN.
To deny your privilege and to work for change is not a one-step process, though. It does not begin and end with you saying Elliot Rodger was wrong. It is a lifetime of work. It is you gauging every action and word to see the effect it has on women. It is you imagining your actions through women’s eyes and seeing the harm they do. It is you fighting against to tear down the toxic structures both in the world and inside yourself.
Any time you stand by silently or say that it’s not your place to get involved when you see a man menacing a woman, you are one of the men you claim you’re not. It is your responsibility to speak up. It is your responsibility to object when your friends say objectionable things. It is not enough to accept their defence that it was “just a joke.” Silence is the weakest and most cowardly answer.
But more than speak up, what men need to do is shut up and listen to women. To the women in their lives. To women on the internet. To women everywhere. Women of colour, trans women, all women. Listen to their stories about how they have to face misogyny on a daily basis. Listen to their stories of rape and abuse from strangers, from loved ones. Listen to how they are forced to live their lives in fear thanks to all men. Read #YesAllWomen without saying anything. We must recognize our place in those stories. We must realize that our inaction in the face of all of their combined trauma makes us complicit. Disbelieving victims and looking for evidence that they may have provoked an attack or searching for ways that their attacker was a human being makes you a part of the problem. The problem is not a single man who had an axe to grind and killed/raped/harassed women. The problem is that our society makes every murder/rape/harassment a special case perpetrated by a single deranged individual. The enemy is not one man; it’s ALL MEN.
And if you fight against sexism in the world and in yourself, you will slip up. There will be moments where YOU will say things that are objectionable, where you will not speak when you should. All men will. ALL MEN. But that is not an encouragement to give up and say there is nothing you can do about it; it is a rallying cry for you to recognize what you’ve done and continue to fight back twice as hard. And when your mistakes are pointed out to you, do not defend yourself, but listen—really LISTEN. Understand what you’ve done and work to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Not all men? YES, ALL MEN. But it doesn’t have to always be that way. With time and struggle, maybe “not all men” will really be “not all men.” For now, though, it is, and all men must stand up and decry the prejudice that forms one of the most basic cornerstones of our society, the prejudice we benefit from at the expense of 51% of the population. ALL MEN.
YES, ALL MEN.