Stop Telling Me “Not All Guys are Like That”

Illustration: Erica Vincenzi.

“Not all guys are like that, you need to stop generalizing men, you’re being sexist!”

This comes up in pretty much every discussion I’ve ever had about misogyny, rape culture, and anything else that pertains to feminism. In some ways, it sounds almost reasonable. Of course not all men are rapists, or misogynists. But when your immediate response is “not all guys,” that’s a pretty big chance that you’re a misogynist anyways.

By saying “not all guys,” you’re changing the topic at hand so that it’s not about women, it’s about men.

You’re basically ignoring how women are oppressed and hurt on a daily basis, because you’re too worried about how something is going to “hurt” you and ruin your reputation as a man. Not to mention, you’re probably missing the point. In a discussion about women, it’s ridiculous to spend the entire time trying to reassure yourself that you’re not “one of those guys.”

More than that, “not all men” is just an elaborate way of telling yourself (if you’re a man), that you’re not responsible. “Not all guys” is like some code for “not me, I’m not a problem. It’s some other guy.” It’s reassuring to distance yourself from that group of “bad” people and say that you’re not one of them.

Once you remove yourself from the problematic group, you don’t feel the need to fix your behavior, since you’re not one of those guys.

Scrolling through the comments on any YouTube video that has “things I hate about men” in the title makes this pretty clear. “Change the title” because not all guys are like this. “Stop blaming guys” because not all guys are like this. “I’m a guy and I wouldn’t do this.” While these people have the right to comment, it looks like they search for these videos so they can tell everyone possible, “I AM NOT ONE OF THESE GUYS. I AM A GOOD GUY. I AM NOT A PROBLEM.”

It makes it so easy when you don’t think you’re problematic and when you’re not looking at your behavior and attitudes because you can just tell yourself, “Well, not all guys are like that.”

That’s not helpful at all. Especially if you claim to have an interest in feminism, it says a lot that you’re more interested in protecting guys from a bad reputation, than trying to understand systemic oppression and give women a safe space to voice their frustration with society. If you really want to be a feminist, or a feminist ally, maybe next time you feel like saying “not all guys are like that,” think about what you’re really doing.

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4 Comments

  1. So true also dumb that guys think they would be the best judge of whether they “one of those guys.”

    No one thinks they are a jerk, which is why there are so many jerks.

  2. “You’re basically ignoring how women are oppressed and hurt on a daily basis, because you’re too worried about how something is going to “hurt” you and ruin your reputation as a man.”

    No that would be you finding a way of ignoring the men you hurt by using sweeping generalizations about their gender. Men too have personal struggles just like women which you also ignore because you have more compassion for women. Your lack of compassion for men is not itself proof that women are suffering more. Men’s silence about their suffering is not proof that men are not suffering more. We have men making up 80% of our suicide victims, most of our drug addicts, inmates, homeless, and victims of violence but some how none of that counts. Men’s pain is real as women’s and should get the same attention even if men aren’t as vocal as women when it comes to discussing it. Having feminism disregard that pain after waking men to this hidden reality is a dereliction of duty on their part.

    Try practicing some real equality and treat men with the same respect you want for women. There is far too much self serving immaturity in this piece and feminism ends up worse of for it.

  3. Right on Edward! I don’t want a cookie. I just want to raise my daughter to feel like she can do anything. I don’t want her to constantly identify who’s holding her down instead of using that time to create or master skills. I teach her to express herself, but not to dwell on anything for too long. This writer’s probably spending more time complaining than growing. Think about what you’re doing. “Lame…do not buy this authors books”

  4. Men who comment on feminist articles who seem to think they know what’s best for feminism become an ironically prime example of the problem that the author is trying to bring to light.

    The problem is that society needs men (specifically, white hetero cis-gender men) to take a step back and realize they have been in an unequal position of power for too long. Men have had their concerns, opinions, and achievements given priority (attention) where women (and equally importantly, people of color, LGBTQ, and other oppressed individuals) have not.
    So what many women are asking is, for once, instead of men retaliating defensively with “not ALL men are like that” or “this is why my view of feminism is right and yours is wrong,” listen to what we, as people who are actually experiencing the oppression of gender inequality, have to say.

    No one likes ‘sweeping generalizations’ made about a part of their identity, but the truth is many men ARE “like that,” even if you are not. If you truly want to create gender equality, let other genders have a voice, listen to what they have to say, and maybe try to give credit to their point of view.

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