The incident that took place in Bengaluru on New Year’s Eve popularised a phrase that has been in use as a defense against feminism for a couple of years now, not-all-men. Arguments against rape, misogyny and patriarchy can all be countered with, “but not all men…”. Artist Matt Lubchansky’s 2014 comic ‘Save Me’ is a typical example of the ‘Not All Men’ argument. The comic (in picture below) sees a superhero, Not-All-Man, playing devil’s advocate, when he thinks he suspects misandry.
I had very indignantly begun ranting about the entirely irrelevant #NotAllMen to a friend when, before I could say “What is this rubbish?” I was countered with, “But not all women are raped. So what is your point?” It took me a while to recover from the initial shock of the question.
In my mind, the use of the statement “Not all men are rapists” trivialises the word “rape.” Rape, when placed in such a context, is not about the non consensual sexual act of violation, but about the individual. “Since I am not complicit in this crime, the crime does not concern me.” Here the ‘me’ take centre stage, giving the ‘crime’ a mere supporting role. By this logic, since all men are not rapists, rape is not very significant.
An act of violence, or any act that is non-consensual, whether it has been experienced by one person or many, is just as horrendous. Merely saying that not all men are rapists or patriarchal does not reduce the intensity of damage that a few people who may be either can cause. A road accident is not insignificant simply because you have not caused it.
Besides, the psychological impact of an incident, like the one that took place in Bengaluru, must also be taken into consideration. Whether or not all men are rapists, the thought that some men may be is ample cause for women to feel threatened and unsafe, even in situations that are seemingly tame. You’re constantly on guard. What if the man walking behind you, on your way back from the metro station, decided to accost or grope? The road is deserted and nobody’s likely to come to your aid.
Several analogies have been made on the Internet to drive home the point: not all people are thieves but thieves are still a menace, or not all people are bad drivers, but bad drivers still cause accidents. The examples are countless. The problem remains just as significant.
Here’s an interesting article by Jeff Zimmerman for TIME on the Not All Men argument: http://time.com/79357/not-all-men-a-brief-history-of-every-dudes-favorite-argument/
Featured image credits: Odyssey