Most people should know by now that “not all men” is not a good argument for explaining away sexist and harmful behavior toward women. However, despite this, lots of men still use it, stating that far from every guy is like the men who end up on the news for disrespectful and even physically hurtful behavior. Scholar Evelyn, who runs the ‘Herspective’ social media project, believes this has to change.
In a viral TikTok video, Evelyn, who has two master’s degrees from Harvard studying oppression, explained the psychology behind the “not all men” argument. She shared that, in her opinion, there are 3 core sources that lead to this argument and she went into detail about each one. And everything is built on the foundation of needing to be needed and the fear of deferring to women. Check out Evelyn’s full video below and let us know what you think of her analysis. Do you agree with her? Are there other nuances that you think are important? Drop us a comment with your thoughts below.
Bored Panda reached out to award-winning activist and writer Elizabeth Arif-Fear, who is the founder and director of ‘Voice of Salam,’ to get her take on how we as a society can move past the “not all men” mentality. “To really move past victim-blaming, as a society we need to learn to empathize with victims and instead condemn the perpetrators,” she pointed out the essence of the argument. You’ll find Elizabeth’s other insights below.
Evelyn went into detail about the psychology behind why men use the “not all men” argument
Image credits: herspective
You can watch Evelyn’s full video right here
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According to activist Elizabeth, there are a number of things that we can stop doing when it comes to cases of sexual violence against women. “We need to stop thinking about where a woman was, what she was wearing, how she got there, what she was doing. We need to stop and instead first loudly and clearly condemn the perpetrator of violence,” she told Bored Panda about how society should proceed.
“We need to offer complete emotional and legal support to the victims and do the best we can as a society to ensure that they get justice. We need to stop questioning the victim and focus on the perpetrator. We need to look at preventing sexual violence, challenging dangerous attitudes, creating safe spaces for women, helping victims to come forward, and getting perpetrators sentenced. Victim blaming is toxic and must be challenged,” Elizabeth pointed out that some people aren’t aware of just how harmful victim-blaming is, whilst others may deliberately use is a detraction technique—drawing on misogynistic narratives and stereotypes. As a society, we need to stand in solidarity with survivors and do the right thing.
According to Harvard graduate Evelyn, the first source leading to the “not all men” argument is male “pick me” behavior. In short, it’s the desire to be seen as different. You know—one of the good guys. You’d never do anything like those other guys. You’re different. Right? Well, not so much. The researcher believes that this is just a delusion because they’ve already internalized patriarchal values that need unlearning.
Secondly, Evelyn sees the “not all men” argument as a way to silence women and control their voices. She pointed out the hypocrisy that these men are spending their time and energy policing what women say and think instead of denouncing those men who are harming women.
And finally, the scholar identified the presence of what she calls the male superiority complex. Evelyn explains that by saying “not all men,” guys are trying to signal that they’re trustworthy, dependable, and can protect women from the violence and danger that some men pose. However, Evelyn sees this as disempowering women because it implies that the solution to male violence is yet another man with the potential for violence.
Here’s how some people reacted to the educational video. Plenty of men thanked the video creator for making things so clear for them
Evelyn shared with BuzzFeed’s Victoria Vouloumanos that she received a lot of support and appreciation from men after she posted her video on TikTok. According to the Harvard graduate, at the foundation of everything lies men’s lack of deference to women. “Deference is fear and respect,” she said, adding that a lack of it leads to the belief that “anything male is superior to anything female.”
White knighting is another form of this lack of deference because instead of focusing on the woman and her experience, the man would simply do things to boost his own ego and grab other people’s attention. In Evelyn’s opinion, what the knight should instead do is listen to the woman, acknowledge her painful experience, and then do what he can to prevent this from happening again.
Furthermore, Evelyn elaborated about how another fundamental aspect of the “not all men” style of thinking is men’s desire to be needed by women and other men. In fact, she believes that most (if not all) undesirable or harmful behavior that men do stems from this desire to be accepted by everyone. And that, frankly, is the best and most in-depth explanation of how everything connects to the “not all men” mentality that we’ve ever heard. But what about you, dear Pandas? What do you think?