Specifically, someone on my facebook asked this:
Can someone please explain to me how the "not all men do X" argument is logically any different from someone defending themselves against racism by saying "not all black people do X"? Either both are valid or none are.
I'm really nervous about wading into this, because I feel like I'm still in early learning stages about feminism/oppression/etc. (which is why I read GT!), but this isn't someone who posts nasty things all the time so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming that it's a somewhat genuine question. I've seen some very excellent responses to these kinds of questions posted recently on these boards, but can't seem to find any from a cursory search so I thought I'd throw it out there.
Here's my attempt at a response, but I'd appreciate feedback/suggestions before I post on FB:
"The meme takes umbrage not with illogicality of the argument - of course not all men are sexist or misogynistic or rapists - but the fact that it is often used a derailing technique when people (often women) are attempting to have a discussion about systemic/institutional/cultural misogyny. What good does it do to whip out this obviously true statement? How does this contribute in a constructive way to the conversation? Answers: It does no good and it doesn't contribute in a meaningful way."
I think I need to be a bit stronger in my statement. I could also use some help responding to the comparison with "not all black men," too - someone has already piped up on the thread with this gem:
Painting any group of people with the same brush because of the behavior of some who happen to be able to be identified within that group is complete prejudice, no matter one's level of majority or priviledge.
So I think I need to say something about how prejudice vs. racism, too, but I'm a little overwhelmed. Help?
"The meme isn't saying that the argument is illogical – of course not all men are sexist or misogynistic or rapists – it's referring to the fact that "not all men!" is often used a derailing technique when people (often women) are having a discussion about systemic/institutional/cultural misogyny. What good does it do to whip out this obviously true statement? How does this contribute in a constructive way to the conversation? Answers: It does no good and it doesn't contribute in a meaningful way.
As for the comparison between "not all men" and "not all black men:" while these statements are both logically true, they are used in different ways. One of these statements is used to disrupt important critiques of an oppressive system, and one of these statements is used in order to aid in the dismantling of an oppressive system. They work in opposite ways."
I'm still working on it - probably too much. Thanks for all the advice - I'm trying to incorporate some awesome stuff that you all suggested!