First, to clarify, let me define the “NotAllMen” or “NAM.”
A “NotAllMen” is typically a heterosexual white male, who, when encountered with feminist anger, the patriarchy, or women’s issues in general, respond with “but I’M not like that. It’s not ALL men! this is an isolated incident. It cannot possibly be as bad as you think!” A NAM shares similarities with those who call themselves Men’s Right’s Activists, but may be less extreme or active or even know about the MRA because they really don’t know a lot about the whole women’s rights thing to begin with.
The NAM suffers from something known as “Male Privilege.” They show a natural tendency to resist any acknowledgment of such privilege, and make a concerted effort to remain ignorant of what the term means.
Male Privilege is often invisible to the typical NAM, but symptoms include a warped world view due to the fact that they have never encountered many of the systematic forms of societal oppression women face every day, and therefor seem unable to understand how the life of an average woman can be so different from their own. Since they do not grasp the fact that they are afforded more opportunities and freedoms (I.E. Feeling safe walking alone) they view feminists are trying to take away something from them, rather than giving women more equality. To them, equality is a finite resource. In order to give it to women, it must be taken away from men. Most people know this not to be true.
The NAM may also show signs of entitlement to their (often uninformed) opinion. These opinions typically include (but are not limited to)
- It’s not ALL men
- Feminism is just a platform to hate men!
- It hurts my feelings to be told men do bad things
- We already HAVE equality
- Some form of blaming the victim
- But men have issues, too!
- We NEED inequality to function as a society!
The NAM also may exhibit signs of “Mansplaining,” in which he will attempt to explain things to you, on topics which you are well-informed and well versed, and he knows little. However well informed you may be, the NAM will always feel that he has to explain it to you, using knowledge often gained from other uninformed NAM’s, internet comments, and Fox News. The NAM believes he knows what feminism ACTUALLY is, and how the world ACTUALLY works, according to him. The NAM’s invisible Male Privilege causes him to believe, while oblivious to the sheer level of narcissism involved to create such a delusion, that if he as an individual has never encountered a problem, the problem does not exist. The problems inherent in this logic are obvious.
The NAM attempts to sound reasonable and respectful, as a contrast to the typical woman’s hysteria. However, what the NAM understands to be reason and respect is actually intense condescension and patronizing. It is typical of a NAM to have a misunderstanding of the definitions of many words.
While all of these symptoms may indicate NAM tendencies, men who exhibit them may recover if they manage to possess an open mind, a willingness to learn, and enough maturity to admit they were misinformed.
A true NAM will reveal himself when actually challenged on any of the above. If at first patronizing doesn’t succeed, try, try again. If you politely and respectfully attempt to explain to a NAM why his opinion is problematic, his initial response will be “oh dear, her small lady brain was unable to understand what I so clearly explained to her. Let me try again.” This time he will reach a level of simplicity so obtuse, most observing will be slightly shocked. After, once again, attempting a respectful, if more forceful reply to the NAM, who is now exposing himself to be severely uneducated on the topic he is attempting to discuss, he will now start to get pissy. This is because being challenged on something he has told a woman is such a blow to the NAM’s fragile ego, he must now resort to grand generalizations, name calling, and general sexist stupidity.
Let me explain to you how your comments look to a well-informed feminist, woman, or female friend who posted an article on an issue related to women’s rights or feminism.
When you try to explain to a feminist what feminism is, to be base, you look like an idiot. It would be like me trying to explain to OJ Simpson how best to write a book about getting away with murder. I’ve never gotten away with murder! I haven’t even researched it! Or read his book! Who am I to try to explain to OJ Simpson how it’s done? This is just general common sense when it comes to literally any discussion in life. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, or if your opinion is based on other people’s opinions and you haven’t actually done any unbiased research you can’t expect other people to take your opinion seriously. When I talk about feminism, I’m talking from personal experience, academic research, personal research, and a whole lot of statistics. When you try to talk to me about feminism, and want to disagree, you better be able to back yourself up, because otherwise your opinion is not valid. Not to me.
When men do this, especially men I know and am acquainted with, this is what it says to me: You don’t respect me and you don’t respect women. If you really, really respected me as your equal, you wouldn’t feel the need to talk down to me. You don’t actually respect my opinion, because although it is generally back up with facts, figures, and hundreds of years of systemized oppression, you STILL feel the need to chime in with your uninformed, simplistic, privileged understanding of what women go through every day. If you actually respected me and women as a whole, you’d be an ally. You wouldn’t be telling me to shut up and stop posting articles on Facebook.
I just want to clarify, once again, how narcissistic this is. When I post an article calling out sexist behavior, violence against women, or Men’s Rights Activists, it is not me yelling at you. I am not saying “LOOK AT THIS SHITTY STUFF MEN DID AND HEY PAUL YOU ARE A MAN THEREFORE YOU ARE A PIECE OF SHIT!” That is you personalizing the issue to you as an individual, and is probably missing whatever point I was trying to make entirely.
I’m not suggesting that men can’t have opinions about feminism, and they can’t be different than mine. But you must keep in mind the platform you’re speaking from. If you are a heterosexual white male, you are speaking from the most privileged platform in our current North American society. You’re life experience is going to be vastly different than say, a queer African American Woman. Vastly. Everyone as an individual can only speak with a combination of their personal experience, perspective, and education. Before speaking on any issue of inequality, it is your responsibility to acknowledge that you are speaking from a privileged platform, and that you do not have the firsthand experience of being part of an oppressed or minority group. Until you accept and acknowledge your privilege, you really can’t expect to be taken seriously in matters like feminism or any kind of inequality.
I used to have a policy of education over confrontation, but the more NAM’s I encounter the more I realize they just don’t want to hear it. Trying to be civil with a NAM or an MRA is like trying to convince a brick wall that it’s anything other than a brick wall, because a brick wall is a brick wall and it ain’t gonna change.
But, if you’re mature enough and want to actually learn, that’s when I’ll be willing to talk to you like an adult. But remember: the oppressed are allowed to be angry at their oppressor. Women are allowed to be angry at men. Again, this does not mean that I am angry with you, Dustin, Sean, Kurt, or any of my male acquaintances individually.
So instead of getting up in arms and trying to defend yourself against the evil feminists, how about you defend women? Be an ally. Learn. Educate yourself. Don’t be a NAM.