Why women should stop saying #notallmen?

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Oviya T

The leaked screenshots of chats from a group on Instagram “Bois Locker room” have caused outrage and revulsion acorss all the social media platforms. The group chats included non consensual sharing of morphed images of girls, slut shaming, body shaming and jokes about gang raping them. Not to mention that most of the girls they discussed about were underage and their classmates, schoolmates or even their friends.

This in no time broke out the internet with similar chats being shared by people and women voicing out how they are subjected to this toxic masculinity in their educational and work spaces. But yet again just like how when a lot of women for the first time took massive amount of emotional labour to speak out through #metoo it was countered by #notallmen. It has been an implicit rule of the virtual world that whenever women and non-men come out about the harassment and assault they face the cis hetrosexual men group would emerge with fedora masked “not all men”. They become the defender of the defended and voice for the voiced only to shift the focus of a discussion instead to engage with it.

If you scroll down the comment sections in the social media discussions about the Bois Locker room you could notice number of women enraged at their counterparts for taking #allmen stand and says it is an over generalization. They also go on to explain how their lives are filled with good men and how they have been respected and loved by their fellow men. They also express their worries over the rants of #allmen might turn the good men bad .The comments would assuredly leave the most at amaze and to question in which Utopian world these ladies comes from and why a normal womqn like us are not included in their world. Here comes the role of privilege which most of those women have. Probably this won’t be the first time where women choosing to support #notallmen, we would see such kinds in our everyday life so often. The institution I study in had arranged for a panel discussion for Women’s day celebration under the topic “Emancipation of Woman”. In the mid of the discussion a man from the audience said that women have gained education have acquired economic and political mobility and hence gender inequality is a thing of past.

Surprisingly, one of the panelists endorsed his views by reasoning how well she is being treated in her in-laws place even better than her mother in-law .Also, how fortunate they even “allowed” her to pursue her higher education and to be financially independent. If that’s the actual case why is it not the same for all women? The reason is that social, economic, political and religious identities of a woman becomes the ground of their experiences.

A dalit woman and an upper caste woman wouldn’t be treated in the same way by their male colleagues and hence the work space would not be equally conducive for them. For a girl who would match the socially constructed criteria of “beauty” would not receive the same responses as a girl who does not fit in the same criteria. Women using public transport everyday for that matter cannot agree to the empathized nonchalant discussion of #notallmen. One could argue that women’s only compartment are available for women to escape such harassment but metros does not exist in suburban and rural areas. Hence being an urban dwelling woman itself is a privilege.

Women and non men certainly encounter discrimination and threat that the patriarchial society creates everyday but some of us are more privileged to cross it without having to face any brunt of it or for the most privileged it is only at a minuscule level. The arguments of not all men which only benefits the cis heterosexual men, especially the upper caste and upper class men. This would put the oppressed women and non men in most vulnerable position and would only further the misogynist, rape culture and violent physical as well as emotional harassment.

How rational is it to say #allmen, are not our father, brother or husband men too? I happened to volunteer in an organisation which works with children who are victims of sexual harassment. One of my fellow volunteer who was more concerned about the bitterness that the children would get on the entire male gender because of injustice happened to them had told a group of girl children there that not all men are bad. A 15 year old with tears bulging in her eyes, said in a stiff tone that ” I was raped by my father”.

The mental trauma women and non-men undergo because of #notallmen is palpable and it’s even more when fellow women does it. Generalizing by #allmen would make men to be guilty and that guilty is for good. It will help in breaking the socially constructed masculinity which time and again turns toxic. Instead of pointing to the miniscule number of men who outrightly standup against their privilege and taking #notallmen stand. It’s time for those men to engage in conversations with their fellow man. Why the oppressed are always be in need to learn oppression when that’s being their life? Let the oppressor begin to know about their suffocating oppression.

Oviya T is a student of Development Studies at IIT Guwahati.

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