#NotAllMen: Gaslighting and Demobilising Womxn
When we claim not all men are rapists, and that some are caring or treat womxn with respect, we are claiming that the problem of gender-based violence is a problem of individuals. That there are individual men who need to be dealt with - bad apples. These bad apples we argue are particularly mentally ill, immoral or monstrous. By individualising the problem in such a way, what we're essentially doing is denying that there’s a larger, systemic problem at play. Please pause on that for a second - by claiming that it is only individual men who are the problem, you are implying that there is no overarching system in place that is responsible for the overwhelming degree of violence men enact on womxn. You are denying that men hold a place of supremacy in relation to womxn. You are denying that there's a system that benefits and grooms ALL men to internalise and perform in ways that indicate that womxn are subordinate to us.
When we do this we are in essence saying patriarchy does not exist. Consider how insidious this is.
If you have trouble understanding this, think about the instance of a white person telling you that those farmers who put a black worker in a coffin was just an individual instance of immoral white folk. That there was nothing larger at play. That all the incidents, stats, histories of colonialism and apartheid and real life experiences you've had of racism are just some conspiracy you've dreamt up. That there isn't a reality of white supremacy and racism imbedded in our society that groomed and enabled it.
So when we say #NotAllMen or try and rationalise the existence of less violent, "better patriarchs", understand that we're essentially gaslighting womxn who are attempting to fight back and survive. We're attempting to convince them that the obvious reality in front of their eyes that is harming them - the very system that is subordinating them via us - is fiction. That in shirking accountability we're actively demobilising attempts by people to make our world more humane.