Women globally are certainly NOT impressed with the hashtag #NotAllMen that was tweeted in response to reports of a mass molestation of women in Bangalore, India, a few weeks ago.
A source told BBC: “People were pushing and shoving, touching, grabbing, groping and everything was happening on that street”.
Unfortunately this was not the first time you’d hear about mass molestation in India. It had happened twice already in Mumbai, on the occasion of the New Year’s Eve.
Comments by certain political leaders that “these kind of things do happen” and that it was “not right” for women to have been out anyway, dressing like “Westerners”, had already infuriated many internationally. The use of the hashtag and responses in kind served no other purpose but added fuel to the fire.
When women talk about experiencing sexism, or feeling unsafe, or being sexually assaulted, it has become a cliché for men to respond with “Not All Men”. “Not all men cheats”, “Not all men sexually harass women”, “Not all men are rapists……Yes that is true and WE KNOW THAT, believe me.
But the hashtag #NotAllMen totally misses the point. What good does it bring when we shift the discussion from gender oppression and inequality of women to the protection of men’s images? By doing so, we are undermining the REAL issue at hand. The phrase “Not All Men” is used way too often to invalidate women’s claims about gender inequality or make men feel less uncomfortable about their privilege.
It is SHAMEFUL that people would respond to such a serious, dangerous, horrifying incident with frivolity, that they would make the conversation about men instead of the epidemic level of violence against women.
If you are one of those men who really think clarifying that “Not All Men” are molesters is of utmost importance, please do walk up to your mother or sister or a female friend who got molested one night and tell them, #NotAllMen. Would you do so?
You fail to empathise and see the bigger issue at hand if you really feel the need to justify that not all men are bad or rapists or sexist or molesters.
We have gotten so used to being too afraid and too careful – too afraid to walk that street alone at night, too careful with what we are wearing to avoid being blamed for ‘asking for it’, too afraid to drink too much or we would be ‘asking for it’, too afraid that we walk twice the speed at car parks to avoid being raped, too afraid to answer when being catcalled. It has been so deeply ingrained in our psyche that sometimes we do not even notice it.
Despite this, men still think it is necessary to defend themselves with a #NotAllMen hashtag and shifting the conversation from gender oppression to men’s egos. This isn’t about YOU. This isn’t about Men versus Women.
#NotAllMen? Indeed. But yes ALL WOMEN. All women have been molested, assaulted, groped, or catcalled at least once. YES, ALL WOMEN.
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