#NotAllMen is a harmful narrative and here’s how it affects women
Women are reaching out for help and #NotAllMen shows we are still not being heard
The tragic news of Sarah Everard’s disappearance and murder has angered and shocked the country and has sparked a national conversation about women’s safety. My social media in the aftermath was flooded with messages of support and has produced many amazing conversations. However, within that is a collective sense of despair and anger, that shows us we as a society have a long way to go.
This is especially true in the #NotAllMen narrative that has also trended on social media, alongside #ReclaimTheseStreets which was used by women to advocate for a woman’s right to simply walk alone at night.
What is wrong with the #NotAllMen narrative?
Firstly, it’s divisive and it is leading the narrative away from the actual problem of women being murdered towards protecting the male ego.
It also takes away from women’s, and female-identifying individuals’, lived experiences, and undermines their bravery and trauma they go through in revealing their stories. You wouldn’t tell someone when they complain of being stung to not blame bees because #notallbees. You would listen, sympathise, and help them. And it feels stupid even writing this, because to me, a cis woman, I can empathise and understand that even if I haven’t experienced things that others do, I understand what it is like to go through something that not everyone will believe.
To detract from a very important conversation about people’s lived experiences by saying #NotAllMen, you are simply exposing your own ignorance. Yes, not all men, but right now the focus is not that, you are not the main character in this story, take a back seat and listen.
But is this narrative surprising?
Society and the patriarchy, which go hand in hand, are aimed at making men the main character, catering to their every expectation and need, so is it really that shocking that when movements come out that challenge this, that some struggle against it?
You could argue that because of this, fighting against it is pointless, and nothing is going to change the oppression women and female-identifying people face every day.
Societal oppression may explain people’s ignorance, but it cannot excuse and in a day and age where education and resources are so readily available those who actively choose not to educate themselves do not have any excuse.
If you believe #NotAllMen and you want to make it true, then do something. Take the initiative and educate yourself, talk to your male friends, and listen to women. Because trust me, once you start your research, you’ll realise how damaging the #NotAllMen narrative is.
And if not all men, why 97 per cent of women? In fact, I am yet to meet a woman who has not faced sexual harassment to some extent, which proves that although not all men, there is definitely a lot more than those arguing this point believe.
If you want to change the narrative, you have to get involved. Being a bystander does nothing for societal change, and unless you actively engage, you are part of the problem.
Featured image credit: Elena Vardon