I’m an ignorant white guy. (Hi, Chris!) This post likely should go under some message board somewhere, but I asked this question on Facebook and on Twitter, and I have had zero replies despite many, many strongly feminist/Social Justice oriented friends.
This post is about my thoughts concerning the matter of “not ALL men” and “not ALL Americans.” I have the overall feeling I shouldn’t be allowed to talk about “not ALL men” because I’m a white man, and the phrase isn’t for me to discuss, therefore shut up. Given the kind of online commentary I’ve been reading on both Facebook and Twitter, that’s what people keep repeating. Not to me, because I don’t engage, but to others.
I understand the “not all men” commentary as aggravating and normalizing in nature, supposedly dismissing the assholes/bigots/supremacists because “I” am not like those guys. The assumption is further that the person talking about men isn’t referring to “you,” Mr. Stranger, and if you were intelligent enough, you’d know the difference, so the responsibility is on you to keep your man mouth shut and change the environment from your place of privilege.
I have become used to not engaging in conversations with people who say things like, “God, men destroyed the Batman franchise!” Whether I agree or not, I don’t say anything, because people are just venting, and nobody cares about my white male opinion. I’m no expert on Batman franchises, so I won’t engage. Not to understand better. Not to further my own knowledge, not to have a conversation with someone who might know a lot more about it than I do. While this shuts down conversation that would normalize equality, it also shuts down conversation from trolls and people who aim to marginalize equality. I’ll leave the “echo chamber” discussion for another post. “I loved Wonder Woman! Men, don’t @ me!” (while this hits on the “mansplaining” territory, I feel this still overlaps with “not ALL men” discussion) is another that keeps showing up. These people state, “I am broadcasting an opinion to my thousands of followers, but they are not allowed to give theirs.” I agree that people should enjoy their movie without shittalkers and opinion heads. I don’t agree that this language is removing them, just separating them from us.
I get it. Thumbs up. Nobody wants rain on their parade. I sure don’t. I could again discuss the difference between broadcast commentary and pointed commentary, the importance of understanding how these social media platforms work, why posting on these platforms is a choice made by the poster and whatever comes with it–regardless of gender–but given I’m still an ignorant white guy, I’ll keep most of my analysis to myself.
Enter “I’m so sorry Europe/Germany/France/UK/(enter country here), but not ALL Americans act like Trump” by the same people disgusted by “stupid” men correcting “ignorant” women about using blanket statements. I have seen this at least twenty times, spoken by the same groups, and I don’t understand the difference. When someone in France says, “America is fucking up the Paris agreement,” and someone says, “Not ALL of America,” the commentary seems to ring in the same vein as “Not ALL men.” Duh, not all America. But the important ones are. And you fall under “America,” so the responsibility is on you to keep your American mouth shut and change the environment from your place of privilege. Right?
My opinion is that blanket statements hurt, and making broad generalizations about a group of people loosely associated by gender, race, religion, creed, country, or association is damaging in conversation and should be avoided and amended when it happens. From everyone. But maybe there’s more nuance that I’m missing, so I ask:
What am I missing here? Are these statements same/same? Are they whoa different like hotdogs and kale salad? Asking for a friend.