Addressed to all the cis-gender and (often) heterosexual men who cannot seem to resist the allure of a post calling men out, always interjecting in a Kanye-esque manner, “Imma let you finish but I think you should know there are nice guys out there too – who don’t do all of the stuff you mentioned. Just some of it.”
Listen up: I don’t fucking care if you don’t directly perpetuate my oppression. I don’t care if you’re calling out all your boys on their misogyny, laboring under the delusion that that’s all you have to fight against. As long as the system lifts you up by dragging me down, as long as you are privileged because I am oppressed, you are accountable for my misery because even if you aren’t the cause for it, you benefit from it.
For example: you gain from me being told to cover up because you are then absolved of the blame of the sexual harassment and assault that ensues, free of all responsibility for your actions. Even if you don’t assault me, you can objectify me, make crude jokes about me , and no one will protest, because “look at those clothes, she’s just asking for it.” You are lumped in with all the convicts and all the assholes because all of you are the same in the eyes of the law: better than me, second-class citizen by virtue of the very body you covet so greedily.
I can scream about you all day but at the end of it, you control representation, punishment, salary, treatment and so much more, for both of us. Hell, you even control our bodies. You get to decide whose story is told and in what light. Your privilege is unaffected by my rant on social media. You can still walk on these streets after 9 p.m. You can call my 100% justified anger hysterical and misconceived, and everyone will agree. You can demand a cookie for acknowledging my suffering, and I will have to grit my teeth and pat your entitled back for deigning to treat me as an equal. While I’m abused on a daily basis for being a feminist, you are lauded, celebrated, precious little darling to be protected at all costs, often defended by female feminists themselves because we’re so starved for cis-men who see us for what we are: people. And I know what you will say, “These are the exceptions!” They are still powerful, legislating our lives, stabbing us in back-alleys. When I look at you, I have no way of ascertaining if you’re one of them; for the sake of security, I have to assume you are. In a world where you can’t even trust friends (stats show assault is often carried out by those known to the victim), I can’t afford to ‘trust’ you.
We set the bar so low for you and you still complain. Well, this feminist has had it. I’m not going to thank you for doing your duty and working against inequality. Neither am I going to sit you down and explain everything to you; it is not a woman’s job – or a feminist’s – to educate you and make a better person out of you, not your mom, not me. This is what is expected. This is what you should be doing anyway, eradicating what should have never existed. So quit whining and pull your load. I’m not going to coddle you. You are not my hero, not my white knight, not my Mughal prince. You aren’t really fighting the oppressor if you still think allies deserve congratulations; you’re siding against marginalized groups with that attitude.
Thanks to institutionalized sexism, you’re still an oppressor, albeit less than others. Thanks to power dynamics, every relationship we have with men – no matter the nature – starts out unbalanced, and thanks to your entitlement, you can afford to ignore your own misogyny and that dished out by cis-men like you, both subtle and rampant, but we have to put up with every day. You can see why most of these relationships are doomed from the beginning. You accuse us women feminists of hating all men, when all we hate is the system that raises you up by virtue of your body, erasing all identities that fall outside of cis-gender and often, heterosexual.
These are our rights, and nobody should have to ask for those. You owe us them. You owe me the right to not be miserable for being myself. You shouldn’t ask what’s in it for you, like you always do, and we shouldn’t have to suffer your asshole entitlement to gain any headway, because this world prefers to listen to a man explain a woman’s suffering. Your job as allies is to always center the oppressed. Stop crying about how your feelings got hurt. Listen to how you can do better, how you can correct yourself. Unlearning this bigotry is a constant process, for all of us.
Also read: The Angry Indian Feminist Manifesto
Dear #NotAllMen, it has always been all men, just not on the same levels. Dear #NotAllMen, stop trying to hijack our narratives; as allies, it’s your duty to make sure our voices are heard, not to exploit our struggles for praise and fame. You aren’t supposed to tell us that asking for a certain right is too much or that we should ask more nicely, always nice, always quiet, always patient, because that’s what women are supposed to be, right?
Do not tell the oppressed how to suffer. Do not tell the oppressed what to fight for and how to go about it. The entire point of empowerment is that we do what we want.
Dear #NotAllMen, we are not here to cater to you. When you expect that we change our aims to suit you, you are exactly like the men you say are the minority. You, too, perpetuate our oppression by advising us to police ourselves to suit your palate(s), by forcing us to confine ourselves to being what you demand we be.
See our campaign on #NotAllMen: Let’s Claim #NotAllMen