Why “not all men” is still your problem
author: tayl0r balfour | news writer
Today, I’d like to disprove the biggest lie you’ll hear on weeks like this past one: that gendered violence is a thing of the past.
Gendered violence is a topic close to my heart. It always has been, but in recent years my passion toward the movement has grown tremendously. Maybe that’s why on weeks like our campus’ recent “Man Up Against Violence” week, I find myself getting frustrated. Frustrated not at the movement itself, but rather at the attitudes surrounding it.
Today, I’d like to disprove the biggest lie you’ll hear on weeks like this past one: that gendered violence is a thing of the past, that our generation is one of progression, and that weeks like these no longer need to be held. If you hold this view, and if you truly believe it, I’d like to kindly direct you to my two friends who were murdered by their current and past boyfriends in the past four years.
Hannah Leflar and Ryanna Grywacheski, two young women who I hold dear to my heart, were my friends. Leflar was 16 when she was murdered in her home by her ex-boyfriend, and Grywacheski was 19 when she was found dead in a basement of a home in Marystown, Newfoundland in a murder-suicide carried out by her boyfriend.
At the age of 19, I have attended the funerals of two of my friends brutally and wrongly murdered by their partners. I have watched their families sob in the front rows of funeral homes, and I’ve watched the ongoing investigations and trials regarding their deaths. After witnessing this repetition, after studying these patterns, I would dare anyone tell me that gendered violence is no longer a concern in our society. Yet, some people think exactly that.
“But not all men are like that,” some say, and yes, they’re correct, it’s not all men. Not all men murder their girlfriends in their homes, and not all men assault women on campuses and in back alleys, but the notion of “not all men” only adds to this problem. The agitation I feel from this week stems from people pushing that exact ideology: that “not all men” are an issue and, therefore, the problem should not be discussed.
If, when talking about the shooting in Las Vegas earlier this year, I said, “We need to talk about America and gun control” and someone responded, “But, not everyone commits mass shootings,” I would say they entirely missed the point. The fact that some people don’t commit crimes doesn’t detract from the few who do. The few who do need to be addressed, discussed, and handled for our society to learn and progress. This past week has been aiming to start exactly that – a conversation – and yet these comments stop it entirely.
Shutting down any potential for this conversation is detracting from the very point of this week: to acknowledge a problem and to create awareness. By taking away from the conversation that’s happening, we are only further damaging women in our society.
I refuse to attend another funeral and to bury another friend because gendered violence took them away. Two friends to bury is enough. Two friends is too many. Any is too many.