Let me establish something first:
Yes, we live in a rape culture that objectifies women as sexual objects to be hunted, won, and, in some cases, taken. Yes, the first time a woman revealed to me that she constantly feared rape I shrugged it off—until three more women told me the same thing.
Yes, the statistics of violence against women in this country, before and after the UCSB shooting, speak for themselves. Yes, misogyny is a source of violence totally separate from the mysterious “mental illness” that can cause boys to go batshit insane when they can’t get laid. Yes, anyone who honestly thinks one of those Git-Dem-Ladies type guides actually works assumes they are dealing with a vacuous self-lubricating meat doll that dispenses sex to worthy gentlebros.
But, yes, all men and all women tend toward cruelty when mocking people of either gender who do not fit into the standard of beauty or excellence that they expect on a daily basis. Hot people who know they are hot tend to be awful, awful people.
Now that we have this established: ladies, can I just add a li’l something? I don’t mean to intrude on your safe place, I don’t want to control your female body with my male hand (seriously—not into it). I just want to say one tiny, small thing that I think will make your fully justified anger over the Elliot Rodger, #notallmen, #yesallwomen, #selfaggrandizedvictimhood #nobodygivesmetehsex ordeal.
I am often frustrated by the sect of our culture that is home to what passes for “social justice” today. One of the primary reasons for this is the assumption that it is not anyone’s job to educate anyone else.
It is absolutely, 100% your job (more of a duty, really) to educate someone else. IT IS NOT A CHOICE. It is not a choice because we do not live in a perfect world where plump Somali children spend their days composing Tumblr rants and reading The Blind Owl.
Take it from a philosophy major—if you study something obscure, most people will not know how to talk about it. No one will have the foundational knowledge of arguments, buzzwords, and questions which you think in almost as if involuntarily. Even the broadest of -isms consists of incomprehensible gibberish words to about 99% of the human population.
It is absolutely your job, as an educated member of your field, to educate others. That’s why you studied. That’s the entire purpose behind the heavily subsidized secondary education you received in the first place.
Imagine if every Gender Studies Ph.D. in America decided to quit under the presumption that it was no longer her job to teach gender politics. Seriously—what would that accomplish? Was Andrea Dworkin not “educating” us when she wrote her books? It was not a choice to her, it was an imperative.
It will also be your imperative so long as we teach the parents instead of boys to not rape. It will be your duty until those young boys can process that in a way that does not feel like they were born a Rape Monster. You can still tell a forum asshole who says “prove it” to go “educate himself,” but imagine how that forum will look to the onlookers, the silent readers. Isn’t it better to copy/paste a link with facts—not to “educate” this one asshat, but to educate anyone who may ever look at your argument?
We are all advocates. It is the human condition. I’m not going to educate you; go read some Sartre.
See how useless that last paragraph was? Do you feel any obligation to read Sartre? No, because the guy who said that was being a condescending asshat who provided no incentive to you, the audience, to care about his interests or concerns.
OK. Let’s talk about “not all men.”
When a guy jumps into a conversation saying “not all men,” he isn’t trying to derail or control the conversation. OK, sometimes he is. But not always. It’s (usually) because men honestly don’t see how what they are doing is so obnoxious. They mostly just want to delineate a barrier between themselves and the dreaded Rape Monster.
This is because all men ARE utterly clueless.
I am a man. I’m a gay man, which means I’m the closest you’re going to get to a man who even remotely understands the experiences of a woman. That’s only when I’m bottoming and the bleeding is just NOT on the same spectrum. Only we few men are the ones who truly understand that it’s not the size of the ship but the stormy waters. (I mean, Jesus, what are you doing? Hydro-fracking? You better not taint my water supply.) Of course, their Lords Majesty the Queens are just as guilty of misogyny, but it’s also the only subgroup of men that deals with the stigma of feminine behavior.
And we also totally get the struggle with dating clueless dudes.
Odds are he actually thinks you pee out of your vagina. I’m still halfway suspicious you do and just made up this urethra nonsense the same way you duped us into thinking you don’t fart. He’s probably never read a single statistic about the horrific atrocities committed against women on a daily basis.
Think about it—has he ever had a reason to? At a young age he learned to let his eyes pass over every article containing the words “body image” or “rape culture” or “genital-ism” because he intuitively felt that none of that seemed to apply to him. He’s never had a reason to at least, no reason to that anyone explained to him.
All I’m saying is that the typical 16-year-old male isn’t going to stumble upon the corner of Tumblr where you learn that hymens don’t break.
Like I said before, I had absolutely no idea women lived in fear of rape until a woman revealed it to me. And I grew up with three women. How on Earth would I ever learn about it unless a woman told me? How would any man on this planet realize that until a woman revealed that to him? I don’t live in your world, I don’t live with that constant, nagging fear. I’ve never been asked to explore a woman’s inner thoughts, not even through books and movies. That is education. That is why you MUST educate.
That is why education is necessary, and it behooves those in possession of knowledge to view educating as their duty. Not because you don’t have the choice, but because there are no other options. Sure, there’s always Google, but how do you even know what to Google unless someone pointed you in the right direction?
Granted, all men are probably sexist in their behavior—but not all of them, and I know you HATE that phrase, are misogynist in thought. This doesn’t apply to the men shouting slurs at you from their car windows or on YouTube comments, but more to the guys you might find yourself on a date with who question all your life choices when he says something such as, “I just don’t like female comedians.”
Someone has to educate them. And that someone has to be a woman. And with that knowledge comes a proper teaching plan.
As adorable (an understandable) as Kawaii misandry is, and as healing and great as it might be for women, it further alienates men—supporting women is great, but we learn in rape culture that it doesn’t help to teach women to protect themselves unless you teach men not to rape. You have to teach men not to be sexist assholes, too.
So please, the next time a clueless guy trundles into a conversation spouting “not all men” or belches out some other kind of clueless remark, just—and yes, I know this is horrible—try to not flip out on him (or worse, ignore him).
I am not trying to mansplain here (even though it took femsplaining for me to get it… think about it). Again, you are completely justified as a human being to feel anger dealing with the challenges that you, as a woman, must face.
But those challenges are invisible unless you explain them to those around you.
And by all means, feel free to educate me by commenting below. I respond best to the Socratic method but can’t promise a response.
Remember that Malcolm X was totally right, but the popular hero of the Civil Rights era was MLK. Because if you calmly (because you are an advocate, not because your scary lady feels are unjustified) show any man the hard facts, then he won’t say “not all men.” He will understand why hearing “not all men” feels the way it feels.
And if he doesn’t, fine. Let’s have a Teen Wolf watch party.