Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Not All Feminists

It is a peculiar focus of what attempts to pass for intellectual discourse in some quarters that what would otherwise be considered school yard jokes are treated as if they were some kind of important social commentary. Such a case, it would seem, is the "not all men" meme.

Kelsey McKinney takes to the pages of Vox to explain to us the important cultural critique embodied in an internet meme called "not all men". She sets out to get out attention with this opening:
1) What is a man?
Might as well start here. A man is a adult male of the species homo sapiens. To clarify, "adult" here does not mean someone who's able to pay their own rent, or treat others with respect. Adult simply means that this male has gone through puberty and is no longer a boy.

Some additional notes about men:

A man is someone who pays his female employees less.
A man is someone who interrupts a woman when she's in the middle of saying something.
A man expects his wife to do all the cooking and cleaning.

What's that you say? Not ALL men pay their employees less? Not ALL men interrupt women?

Thanks for pointing that out. You're who this meme is about.
What is so bad about seeking to qualify a generalization? She is ready to explain to us:
When a man (though, of course, not all men) butts into a conversation about a feminist issue to remind the speaker that "not all men" do something, they derail what could be a productive conversation. Instead of contributing to the dialogue, they become the center of it, excluding themselves from any responsibility or blame.

"Men who just insist on you having that little qualifier because it undermines your argument and recenters their feelings as the central part of the dialogue," Hudson says.

On a very basic level, "not all men" is an interruption, and interrupting is rude. More to the point, it's rude in a very gendered way.
[P]ointing out individual exceptions doesn't help us understand or combat behaviors that really are mainly committed by men, from small things like interruptions up to domestic violence and rape. Not all men beat their partners, but people who beat their partners are mostly men. Pointing out that you're not one of them doesn't help us figure out how to understand and deal with that problem.
I'm sure that now you understand the problem.

There you are, explaining how we could simplify airport screening procedures by using racial profiling, and suddenly-

Not all Arabs!

Or you and your friends are just making some really good progress on figuring out the racial origins of our society's crime and unemployment problems when-

Not all Blacks!

Then you think you can at least have a conversation about how women with a massive sense self importance and entitlement end up shifting everything into gender war terms when-

Not all Feminists!

It's almost like you can't sit around making generalizations about groups you don't like without someone showing up to introduce a qualifier? If reasoned discourse doesn't exist in order for us to draw massive negative generalizations about groups of people we don't like, what exactly is it for?

I'm sure that by now you are just wondering what you can do to help alleviate the suffering of all these poor feminists who can't make their generalizations in peace anymore. Well, McKinney is ready to tell you how you can help:
You can not interrupt, because interrupting is rude, and use that time instead to think about whether or not injecting "not all men" is going to derail a productive conversation.

You can also try making a "Not all men" joke with your favorite pop cultural shows.
So there you have it. That is the important work that feminists do today. I hope you have learned your lesson and will have more respect for these intellectual endeavors in the future.

Oh, wait- Are you interrupting? What's that? Not all feminists? How rude. We were busy having a productive conversation about people like you. Have the decency to be quiet.


Foxfier said...

On a very basic level, "not all men" is an interruption, and interrupting is rude. More to the point, it's rude in a very gendered way.

Because heaven forbid that someone interrupt your sexist rant about how at least by implication all men do this thing by pointing out that, in fact, they are a man and do NOT do such a thing.

How rude.

They should be ashamed....

(what's the level of irony that's poisonous, again?)

Enbrethiliel said...


The first time I ran into a "Not All ___" meme, it was "Not All Women. So now I feel like I've walked into one of those fun houses with the trick mirrors. =P

Itinérante said...

I have been having a hard time understand all this and I was so hoping you would be posting something on it so I checked and I was so glad I did! Thank you!