Ultimately, the #YesAllWomen rallying cry reached more than 1 million tweets in the days since the tragedy, outlasting even Kim Kardashian’s wedding on Sunday. But women are not the only ones frustrated by our society’s institutionalized misogyny. So many men, too, reported feeling disgusted by the attitudes of the shooter and his alleged peers, the “men’s rights activists” that not only influenced Rodger, but publicly predicted more violence if men aren’t given what they want.
Men deserve their own space to talk back to these “activists.” Here is just a small part of that response, but you can find more responses or post your own on the hashtag #AllMenCan, because all men can have respect for women without ever becoming less of a man.
I have mixed feelings about this evolution of the #YesAllWomen discourse that has sprung up in the wake of the recent events in Isle Vista, CA. This piece in particular makes some good points, like MRAs are full of bullshit, and that all men should take part in speaking out against violence toward women.
Last weekend someone told me that they grew up with the mantra, “It’s a man’s job to respect women, and it’s a woman’s job to give men something to respect.” I have a real problem with the idea that it’s a woman’s job to give men anything.
I don’t know if it’s really the best idea to shine the spotlight back on men and amplify their voices quite yet. Am I the only one who thinks we need to spend more time listening to women before we jump right back to men as if they’re being left out?
Further, I’m not a fan of the way the #AllMenCan dialogue is wrapped up in the heteronormative rhetoric of the man/woman gender binary. I’m particularly bothered by the underlying theme that the primary perspective from which men should view women is still as sexual objects as long as that view includes proper degrees of “respect” or nonviolence.
Both men and women need ways of defining themselves that are separate from their relationship to one another. For example, as a gay man, I’m often concerned about my relationships with other men as an essential part of my “manhood,” in addition to the way my interactions with women shape who I am.
It is true that respecting women does not make one less of a man, but why do we even maintain this concept of “real men”? It is a concept that I believe to be especially caustic to young boys developing their sense of self in a male-supremacist world that also teaches them that vulnerability, creativity, gentleness, and kindness are less essential to male identity than heterosexual norms of gender interaction.