The Adventures of Not All Men


Have you met NOT ALL MEN? I’m sure you have! If you read a news story that mentions gender and then scroll to the comments, you will meet NOT ALL MEN. If you mention sexism on Reddit, you will meet NOT ALL MEN. If you post material that remotely relates to social justice or activism on your Facebook or Twitter, you will not only meet NOT ALL MEN but find yourself in a disorienting argument with them.

Not all men shout NOT ALL MEN, but ALMOST ALL MEN have at least thought: NOT ALL MEN. Jess Zimmerman explains:

“Not all men” also differs from “what about the men?” and other classic derails because it acknowledges that rape, sexism, and misogyny are real issues — just not, you know, real issues that the speaker is involved with in any way. The “not all men” man, at least in some cases, agrees with you and is perfectly willing to talk about how terrible those other guys are, just as soon as we get done establishing that he himself would never be such a cad. It’s infuriating and unhelpful, but in a way it represents a weird kind of progress.

NOT ALL MEN men are currently concerned mostly with establishing themselves as allies. But it was not always so. NOT ALL MEN have been doing things for years. Decades. Centuries. And all kinds of things! What have NOT ALL MEN been up to? What were NOT ALL MEN like in the old days? NOT ALL MEN were quieter about their whereabouts, certainly, but they weren’t silent.


Not all men are sentimental, and even of those so tinged, the impression rarely dominates the entire life


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Not all men linger in the rum palace through innate depravity.


Menstruation has been the subject of universal taboos, and birth itself has been felt to be unclean. Obviously, not all men have felt these things and fewer feel them consciously now.


Not all men who return from war give up hunting.


See? Men are wearing hats. No, not all of them, and not all men nowadays wear mustaches, either — but a lot do, enough so we can call this the age of the mustache, just as we could have called the 1930’s the age of the hat.


Men lose their hair. Not all men, but enough to shift the balance of power in the aging race.


Susan Estrich, who teaches sex discrimination law at the University of Southern California, said men were usually more reluctant than women to come forward with claims of sexual harassment. “Traditionally, our imagery is that men should enjoy this and should consider themselves lucky,” Professor Estrich said. “The reality is that not all men do enjoy this.”


Not all women marched with the suffragists and not all men hollered against them.


Re Maureen Dowd’s ‘’Cowboy Feminism’’ (column, April 11):

What strikes me most about the attitudes of some of the people mentioned in the column is the monolithic way in which people see both men and women.

Certainly, not all men ‘’choose a mate based on animal attraction,’’ and not all women do so based on ‘’intellectual compatibility.’’


Not all men will feel comfortable with the tight dress pants and the square jackets, especially in stiff techno gabardines or polyamides.


Scribbling furiously, I muttered something about all the losers I’d encountered.

‘’Not all men out there are jerks,’’ he soothed. ‘’There are lots of wonderful people like you who are trying to connect with somebody.’’


Not all men love the scent of leather.

What will NOT ALL MEN get up to next?

[Photo via aleashuhh]