No-one speaking about men has ever said all men — which is the fucking point of this piece! There’s a difference between what individuals do and sociological phenomenon that includes a certain demographic. My friend Lorelei Weldon did a great story on this about how when speaking about WWII, we routinely say, the Germans, as in, “The Germans invaded Poland.” This does not demonize every person of German nationality, many of whom were against the Nazis, did not hate Jews, or who also suffered during the war. None-the-less, we still say “the Germans.”

“Not all Germans were Nazis. “As Doris Bergen writes, “Smooth functioning of the system did not require all Germans — or even most — to share every tenet of Nazi ideology. Enough enthusiasts could always be found to stage enormous public shows of support such as the annual Nazi Party rallies. On a day to day basis, the Nazi regime only needed most people to obey the law, try to stay out of trouble, and promote their own interests as best they could under the current circumstances.”

Most men are not harassers and rapists, but all it takes is the percentage that are to be living in a society that excuses and minimizes these behaviors to make for a world where most women to have had some kind of negative experience of this type. So unless when you are speaking of WWII, you don’t say “the Germans” but instead say, “the members of the Nazi party who joined it enthusiastically and actively embraced all of its tenets,” you really ought to stop complaining about the term patriarchy. It’s being used to describe a social system that is centered around male power and that has been used to disempower and abuse women for thousands of years. Until 50 years ago there were still laws on the books and active customs that enshrined this and many of the same attitudes are still alive and well today.

Patriarchy has also been used to disadvantage and abuse men. It’s at the core of bullying and homophobia. And we should absolutely talk about that too. Talking about one facet of an issue doesn’t negate the other ones, and not every man has to be actively, consciously harming women for patriarchy to be a source of problems and pain for women. So the next time you want to react to stories of the ills of the patriarchy with #NotAllMen, think about the Germans, and think again!”

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Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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