“Not ALL men…” will inevitably be said by some man, somewhere, in response to the recent news that various multi-national pro-rape rallies will be held on February 6th. And this is invariably correct, not ALL men want to, think about, or will rape someone in their lifetime. But the bigger issue that men need to understand is that this argument—much like “All Lives Matter”—it’s not about you. It’s not about the fact that you in particular wouldn’t rape a woman, it’s about the fact that there are men out there who can, will, and have raped women in their lifetime. So if you will, listen to me. Listen to the women around you. More importantly: listen to what the men around you are saying, and what you can do about it.
The Return of Kings, an all-but-in-name Men’s Rights Activist group, announced the rally with a fetchingly repugnant picture of warriors rendered in Sim-like quality, referring to themselves as ‘tribesmen’, which no doubt appeals to their supporters’ primal sense of patriarchal allegiance. Their leader, Roosh Valizadeh, advocates that feminism has left a legacy of “androgynous men” and engages in what’s colloquially called the ‘manosphere’– a collective of online male writers who show inclinations towards anti-feminist rhetoric and that adopting an uber-masculine attitude will effectively seduce women, putting them, to use that time-worn phrase, ‘in their place’. It all boils down to, as the warrior picture suggests, that real men take what they want. Real men belong on top, where they’ve always been. Real men don’t let women dominate them, or surpass them in areas they typically control. Rape, the utter violation of another person, is how you stay on top. It doesn’t matter what women want, and it doesn’t matter that society condemns them; they’re renegades, and they are righteous because of it.
Again, I can hear the protests: “not all men are like that”. This should be disturbing enough that there ARE men like this, verbally asserting themselves that they ARE like this, that they do exist, and while you may not think the same way, as a man it is your responsibility to challenge this mentality. It’s not exactly feasible to say that if women counteract this behavior, if we make the right arguments, say the right things, we could change their minds. As frustrating as the fact is, men will listen to other men when it comes to topics like this. It is not enough to protest that “not all men” believe in this hate speech and the ideology that women are and should be inferior to men. All this does when men say this is to propagate the myth that what women are saying is unimportant because what you, the man, has to say is more valuable; that the man takes exception to be included with other men who do not share his viewpoint. This is not addressing the issue; this is addressing the man’s need to be seen as superior. While women welcome helpful male allies, this is not the way to be one.
Here’s how you, if you are a man and you believe in helping women, can be a good ally: call out the men who do think like Roosh Valizadeh, and call them out to the extent that they understand that this is not the way that real men act. Respect the women around you, hear what they are saying and try and understand why they are saying it. Stop saying “not all men are like that”, because that is just avoiding the issue, and it’s indicative that even if you aren’t like that, you’re doing nothing to stop the men who are, and that’s part of the problem.
If you’re reading this and harbor similar viewpoints to the Return of Kings, then nothing I can say will change your mind, much as I’d like to. As the physicist Max Planck once said, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Ultimately, what you think concerning the true place of a woman won’t matter, because you’re going to die, and so will your outdated attitudes. Times are changing, and they’re going to leave you behind where you belong.