There’s something very performative about Not All Men displays. When women and non binary people describe ways we reduce our risks of male violence by reducing our exposure to men, a male “ally” can always be counted on to defend the reputation of men against personal safety for others.
Whether it’s a non binary person who will only see a woman therapist, a lesbian who hides in a locked bedroom when maintenance fixes things to avoid being alone with a man, or a bisexual woman who blocked her dating profile from straight men, a man will appear as if by magic. He will chide the non man for “judging” or “painting us all with the same brush.”
They don’t think of themselves as members of the most violent population group throughout history and across cultures. Men tend to think of themselves and each other as individuals. In the US, we all grow up surrounded by stories of boy heroes that encourage us to identify with a variety of male characters. But boys are actively discouraged from empathizing with female characters and any media featuring a girl hero is deemed unacceptable for male audiences.
Men have no practice putting themselves in our shoes, and too much practice identifying with our abusers. When women detail ways we exclude or reject men, these guys aren’t identifying with us. They’re not imagining how awful it is to be afraid in your own home, or the daily struggles of survivors to just live. They’re empathizing with the men we fear, the men we reject.
Since they don’t believe they deserve suspicion, and have been socially conditioned to only consider male perspective and male feelings, they assume women are wrong about basic facts. “We’re not all bad!” They are quick to defend male reputation, including heightened access to rape and domestic violence survivors as their “right”. They may bemoan how those bad men make things harder on them, the Good Ones, how terrorized women aren’t as daring or fun as they’d enjoy.
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