We already know, it’s not all men, and not all women
Anybody who has ever had an exhausting diatribe unleashed upon them in the comments knows that, especially if you are a writer who is a woman, you are compelled to say “SOME men”.
Some examples without the exhausting qualifier: “some”:
Men with guns kill women and men.
Men rape women more than women rape men.
Domestic terrorists often are men.
Men do not always take no for an answer.
There are men who are afraid to cry.
Men tell women to smile when women walk around.
In fact, if you are a female and have not experienced this mansplaining “well, actually,” phenomenon, please, please write to tell me about it! It will give me more faith that things are changing for the better for all humankind.
For each of these examples, you will feel forced to change it:
Some men with guns kill…
Some men rape women more than they rape men.
Some men do not take no for an answer.
And so on.
Meanwhile, have you ever read a statement like this:
Women expect men to read their minds.
Women want special treatment, not equality.
Women reject men then wonder why men won’t approach them.
Women are biologically wired to want to nurture babies.
And so on.
For every such statement, (well, actually!) it is more factual, of course, to say:
Some women expect some men to read their minds.
Some women want special treatment…
Some women are man-haters who reject some men…
and, certainly, only Some women are biologically wired to reproduce.
And so on.
Of Memes and men
Part of this is because society and language work in memes. We hear something, latch on to the thought, realize it is true (at least for us) and repeat it routinely.
Let’s establish up front that MOST men are not rapists or killers. But for abuse to flourish, most men do lack training to help, to be sensitive, alert, and attuned to how hurtful “slut-shaming” is to female people.
They have words about being “players, or playboys, studs, or ladies men, that women just aren’t praised for.
In everyday parlance when a statement says “women are…” it may be followed quite acceptingly with the B word, C word, slut/whore/gold-digger designation.
They often lack training in listening before spewing forth their experience which is often meant as “I can top that victim-hood” stories or even defensiveness, which basically suggests: “Not really listening to your story because I need to redirect attention to the reality that not all men are…”
Here is one such actual fact: every woman I have ever spoken with about it has a story of abuse, rape, attempted rape, or at the very least, lots of harassment or everyday sexism.
For example, my kindergarten principal slut-shamed us. KINDERGARTEN!
This is simply not true of every man I have spoken to about it.
It should not be incumbent upon every single woman, every single time, to have to say some women experience abuse. All women do. It should not be automatic, on the part of men, upon hearing every #MeToo story, for men (any, not some) to correct her.
As is the case with any sensitive topic, for any survivor, first, listen.
Third, maybe, listen.
Then, and only then, talk about your own victimization. Only then speak about how put-upon some men feel for being accused of sexism.
It is really much more about patriarchy that supports, and tolerates, rape culture than it is about those “some” men who ignore consent, or common kindness and civility.
It takes incredible courage for women to come forward to talk about abuse, trauma, rape, and assault. My mother is deceased and she not only did not confide about her many attackers, she has never, ever heard about the ones my sisters and I endured.
Most women die with their shamed secrets, so please don’t discourage them from speaking out and changing society for the better for all.
The reason we have #MeToo, is because even now, most rape is vastly, vastly under-reported. Little wonder.
Even everyday impolite behavior is difficult to speak out about. A woman learns daily what will be considered a socially taboo topic.
It’s human to be defensive, but we can learn to be defensive after listening.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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