Not all men.
Brothers — please let's refrain from saying or suggesting "not all men" when the discussion is about a man perpetrating sexual harassment or abuse against a woman. We don't need to come to the defense of all the men out there who aren't assaulting women. It's not necessary. No one thinks every man on the planet is a sexual predator. No one.
What we do by declaring "not all men" is redirect the conversation away from whatever harassment or abuse is on display and, unhelpfully, center it on ourselves. By doing this, we make it harder to have the necessary conversations about violence and sexual assault, the great great great majority of which is perpetrated by men. By stating "not all men," we become problematic men — defensive instead of open to listening to the stories that women are trying to tell us. The moment we lose ourselves in defensiveness, we stop showing up as allies to those who have been victims of harassment or abuse.
When we feel the impulse to declare "not all men," let's dig deeper inside of ourselves to see what's really being provoked. Why do we need to stand up for men when a woman has found the courage to say "me too"? Why do we feel personally attacked if we ourselves are not misogynistic or violent towards women? Why do we feel compelled to make a situation unrelated to our lives about us just the same?
Another good question to ask ourselves: why do we stay silent in the face of so much violence against women?
As men, we cannot possibly know what it's like to walk in a woman's shoes. Rather than put our energy into defending ourselves, let's put it into empathizing with women as much as we can. Let's listen to women. Let's believe women.
Let's remember when the urge strikes, that saying "not all men" doesn't help. It actually hurts the possibility of positive, effective, important conversation and healing.
Brothers — let's do better. So much better.