This post was originally an answer to a question on Quora: Why do many feminists criticize the phrase, ‘not all men’?
Many a times we get frustrated by how we are being treated and express our anger through generalizing statements but do they really apply to each and everyone living on this planet?
When you say “The world is full of idiots”, do you mean everyone is an idiot?
When you say “People are selfish”, Do you imply that everyone is selfish?
If yes, then you just accepted that you are a selfish idiot.
If no, then why do you generalize? Not all people are selfish or idiots or selfish idiots!
You say so, because that’s what you’ve been noticing a lot. After a few days you may even end up say “This world isn’t so bad after all”.
Same is the case with feminists.
Those who don’t care much about the crimes against women or inequality in the society fail to see what feminists notice. We do say generalized statements but only because that’s what happens at large.
Our fight is not against men but against the injustice that’s happening not just against women, but against men too.
Because inequality affects us all, not just women.
If we say “Men objectify women and that’s why rapes occur”, It’s not to suggest that all men do it. But that’s what is happening. It’s not that men are born that way, but that’s what they grow up looking at and hence learn to do the same.
Such things are said to throw light on what’s wrong with the society but the topic gets manipulated to be men degrading.
Instead of accepting the fact that the problem prevails in the society, men tend to take the comments personally and start to justify their actions.
We know good men exist! Isn’t it why we are still able to survive? We just want them to be on our side.
We want them to understand that we cannot fight this fight alone.
You may notice that (most) feminists are women. Why? Because, (most) men are busy taking offense. We cannot keep speaking our mind and then explaining that it’s not applicable on everyone. If we do so, many people who are actually doing it will get a false sense of assurance that they aren’t to be blamed. That’s how our brains work.
No general statement is ever applicable on everyone. Please understand that. Read between the lines. We just want to eradicate the evil and we are trying our best and your “Not all men” is not helping us in anyway but just diverting the attention.
That’s why we criticize the phrase.