Guest Post: Letter to Not All Men
Hey. I come in peace. <ironically waves white hanky> I’m kind of a hippie pacifist, who has had to work really deliberately on direct and assertive communication.
Believe me, I get it that you are nice guys who believe that sexually assaulting women is morally objectionable. I believe you that you are freaked out about false allegations and their potential ramifications. (Let’s put aside for a moment that it’s statistically much more likely for a woman to be sexually assaulted than for a man to have false allegations made against him). I get it. I believe you.
Because see, part of being a feminist is that I believe that men are far more capable of controlling themselves than media, politics, and other people seem to think. I don’t believe that sexual assault is inherently gendered. I believe it is deeply rooted in power and politics, in systemic acceptance that “boys will be boys.”
You may have observed that many of the women in your life are on a reactive hair trigger right now. This may be confusing to you, NAM. You’re a nice guy. You haven’t assaulted anybody. You pay your taxes and mow your lawn and help lift heavy things sometimes.
What you’re failing to recognize is that a woman who reacts to something she would usually ignore, has been dealing with other nice NAM for years and lots of other men for her entire life and she’s finally fed up right now.
It began when she was a child, and she was told to sit nicely so she didn’t get her dress dirty while the boys moved their bodies.
It began when she started her first diet at age 8.
It began when she was mocked for her breasts.
It began when she was pressured to have sex and didn’t want to, but sort of said yes because she didn’t want to to make the boy angry.
It began when she was passed over for work advancements while less experienced, less qualified males received promotions for no articulable reason except for their maleness.
It began when she was sexually assaulted by a man the first time.
It began when she was sexually assaulted the second and third times.
It began when her body became a subject of national debate.
It began every time a woman has been belittled, threatened, harassed, or demeaned for existing in the world in a female body.
So is this about you, NAM? No. Not really. It’s not really about you.
It’s not really about you, you see.
It’s about us.
And your fragility, your defensiveness, and your reactivity to the bleeding, aching women in your life reinforces a narrative where your discomfort with our pain is more important than the anguish of generations of women who are fed up with swallowing their anger.
NAM, I believe you this is also hard for you.
Start believing us that this is, for many of us, literally a matter of life or death.
Please stop making this all about you.
Yes, All Women
Kristen Shill is an attorney and writer with a passion for advocacy and activism. She lives with her craft beer enthusiast spouse and feral mancub. When not enjoying the great outdoors, Kristen enjoys knitting, coffee with friends, and spicy food.