Stop saying “All Men”

With+differences+in+socialization+and+lived+experiences%2C+people+of+different+genders+inevitably+encounter+differences+and+disagreements.+However%2C+people+should+never+use+these+differences+as+leverage+to+discredit+and+disrespect+an+entire+gender.

Jenny Loveland

With differences in socialization and lived experiences, people of different genders inevitably encounter differences and disagreements. However, people should never use these differences as leverage to discredit and disrespect an entire gender.

By Jenny Loveland, North Cobb High School

“All men are trash.” This short and dismissive phrase, commonly found floating among people of all genders as they air their complaints about men, shows a mindset that has taken hold in certain branches of modern social movements. Although not a new sentiment, the treatment of men as incapable, inconsiderate and even malicious people remains with negative effects on both sides. Prejudice, especially when applied to a group as diverse and significant as an entire gender, prevents meaningful and constructive change.

Generally, people with this mindset justify it based on their personal negative experiences. For example, disturbingly high rates of sexual violence frequently lead women to categorize all unfamiliar men as potential rapists, a tragically necessary safety tactic. Women face this persistent fear of sexual assault for a justifiable reason: 21% of women have survived attempted or complete rape and nearly all women have suffered sexual harassment. Rape and assault frequently cause significant mental health problems such as PTSD. Events this traumatic, especially on such a large scale, help to explain why women may become aversive towards men. 

However, while women cannot disregard their personal history and this pervasive social problem, disparaging an entire demographic causes additional harm. Studies have shown that people frequently act how others expect them to due to a phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect. Seen in classrooms in the way a teacher expects students to behave can then become a self-fulfilling prophecy, this effect can extend to the rest of human interactions as well. Beyond denying the obvious fact that all men, like all people, act differently and follow different moral compasses, putting down men in every possible situation only helps to excuse harmful behavior by always expecting the worst of them. 

Immediately assuming all men possess a disposition towards negative traits ranging from emotionless or messy to predatory and hypersexual can directly impact the quality of their lives. By assuming that men do not feel as deeply as women, society has conditioned them to suppress their feelings, leading to long-lasting and widespread emotional suppression. By assuming that men always want sex, male sexual assault survivors frequently lack the social credibility and support afforded to women in the same position and underreport male sexual assault numbers.

This divisive way of thinking promotes the polarization prevalent in other social spheres such as politics. Feminism cannot exist separate from its political ties, however, those who preach it should work to avoid the “us versus them” mentality that frequently comes with ideological alignments. Both men and women who call themselves feminists should work towards neutralizing the harmful patterns of a male-centered society.

“There are a lot of women who have had very, very negative experiences with men and they don’t trust men as much or they might have inherent negative feelings towards men. I don’t blame the women for having these kinds of feelings, [but] I think it’s unfair for people that don’t have a good reason for disliking or not trusting men to treat all men that way, even if they don’t know them, with some kind of contempt. There are terrible men out there, but there are also just normal, decent, good people out there who are trying to live their lives and I don’t think they deserve that contempt in judgment without good reason,” Kell High School senior Presley Knudsen said.

In the end, the issue lies separate from gender. Everyone should receive basic decency and respect from others, without the dismissal of their opinion based on a factor they cannot control.

This story was originally published on The Chant on May 12, 2022.