Everything begins when we buy those blue clothes for a baby boy and the pink ones for the baby girl. Statements like ‘Don’t cry like a girl’ aren’t just statements- they’re blows to the piñata that is the innocence of the child. This is to say- sexism isn’t something that affects some men and some women. It is something that is so deeply ingrained in society, passed on from generation to generation, from person to person, it is almost inseparable from the very ideals that humanity claims to base itself upon.

Fast forward to several years later: the baby boy is all grown up now, having seen and experienced life only from a privileged perspective. He has heard words like feminism and women’s rights being thrown about. Every time he hears a story in the news about a woman being raped or molested, he is so very angry that a man could ever do such a thing. He knows women must be respected. He knows that he is one of the good guys. And thus, it comes as such a shock, such a horrible accusation when he sees some idiotic woman on the internet say- ‘Men have been too powerful for too long. They have taken so much away from women. Here is my story of how a man has affected my life in a horrible way.’ How dare she lay such an accusation? All men? What about him? What about other men like him, who know to respect women, who would never lay a finger on a woman? Every man cannot possibly be like that, couldn’t possibly be as horrid as these women make him out to be. Surely, not all men.

And herein lies the problem. First of all, the fact that the immediate thought in a man’s head when a woman talks about her own story is ‘but I’m not like that’, instead of ‘the poor woman, I must stand in solidarity with her’, goes to show the privileged standpoint from which men view every aspect of their lives. A statement or story that isn’t even about them, suddenly becomes surrounded by debates of how only some men are misogynistic, instead of providing a platform for the woman to share her experience. 

In conclusion, no. Not all men. Not all men attack women, not all men are misogynistic, not all men actively disrespect women and take resources or attention away from them based on their gender. However, all men are a part of the same patriarchal society. All men internalise these ideals they are shown from a very young age. Unlearning inherent misogyny is very difficult, especially when we exist in a society that rewards people who uphold this culture. It isn’t something that can be done in a day, it isn’t something that can be erased by simply understanding that misogyny is woven into the very fabric of our existence. It is a continuous, grueling process; an uphill battle. 

Boys grow into men with such an ingrained sense of importance and privilege, that even talks about equal distribution of power feels like a loss of privilege in their eyes. While men are also obviously negatively affected by a culture that requires men to be masculine, patriarchy disproportionately affects women. So why should you unlearn misogyny? For a future filled with equal opportunities, for a future filled with a valid platform for people to share their experiences and problems on; for a tomorrow full of acceptance, understand this- Not all men, but all women. 

-Tanishka Iyer