Guys, Pulling the ‘Not All Men’ Card Won’t Help Every Woman’s Plea


Sexism happens in many different ways in our society—catcalling, girl watching, and subjecting women’s bodies to the male gaze are just some of them. While many women are calling these out as forms of sexual harassment, there will always be that one guy who would interject, “Not all men are like that!”

We’ve probably heard that counter-argument way too many times now. When they pull the “not all men” card, it’s like they’re putting themselves on a macho pedestal because they feel like they’re being generalized. It’s like saying that they shouldn’t be part of the conversation because they’re not rapists, catcallers, and so on.

For the past few days, I’ve seen several Twitter threads which detailed various forms of street harassment among young women. There were even stories about guys creeping on these women when they were 10 years old. And almost instantly, some guys thought it was smart to say that if it were them, they wouldn’t do that.



Everyday Feminism notes that as much as the argument sounds like it comes with good intention, it’s simply a “sexist hypocrisy.” This is mostly because men would have no problem generalizing women, but would feel attacked when there’s a problem within a portion of their gender.  Some would even retort that they feel “discriminated” by the opposite sex. (i.e. The men who were mad about the “Women Only” Wonder Woman screening.)

So why do men keep using this line to make a point or save face? Phil Plait wrote on Slate that it’s mostly a defense mechanism. However, this just ends up derailing the conversation and directing the attention to the man rather than the woman (or any person for that matter) who felt victimized by a certain situation.

This might also explain why some men feel the need to play the good guy in every argument, like being nice should be rewarded with praise and not a generalization of their gender. Is their masculinity so fragile that they need to drill it in our heads that they’re not so bad all the time?


Here’s the thing: Yes, not all men are bad people. But claiming to be a good person and being defensive about every single thing your gender does won’t help anyone. It’s better to acknowledge that there is a problem between genders rather than exclaiming you’re not part of the problem. No one’s telling you that you are, at the same time no one’s asking you to prove to us that you’re not a rapist or a sexual harasser. So stop stroking your ego.


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Related stories:
We Need to Stop Telling Women What to Do With Their Bodies
Girl Watching and Why Men Can’t Take Sexual Harassment Seriously
Catcalling Was Never a Compliment, So Why Do People Still Think It Is?
Cinema Hosts Women-Only Screening of ‘Wonder Woman’ and the Men Are Hating It

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