On #NotAllMen, Superheroes and Social Activism

The ideas that birthed this here piece were sown when I was writing the opinion piece for two weeks ago. While I was analyzing the class of people who cite the “ preaching to the choir” excuse to avoid doing something they feel uncomfortable with, I discovered another category of people similar to them. For the purpose of this piece, I shall call them the “Superheroes”. Relax, this is not a Marvel/DC movie review, or a comic themed rant. It is still an opinion piece, and I will explain what I am going on about.

In Luke chapter 18, Jesus Christ talks about two men who went into the Temple to pray. one was a Pharisee, a well respected, devout, religious leader, while the other was a tax collector, a person whom everybody hates. The modern Nigerian equivalent would be if a General Overseer/Bishop of a prominent Church and a Nigerian Policeman went into church to pray. Of course, the Pharisee was on point with his “humble bragging”. He tithes, he doesn’t beat his wife or cheat on her (none of that men are scum stuff for him), he has never been charged with stealing or corruption, his prayer life is on point ( the tongues he speaks in as impeccable as the one Archangel Michael speaks to God). The most important thing he is thankful for is that he is not like that tax collector (policeman) who is always at the roadside collecting money (and curses) from motorists and arresting innocent young boys in order to fleece them of money. The tax collector on the other hand was so ashamed of his conduct that he couldn’t even look up to heaven, he felt so dirty that he couldn’t come close to the altar, all he could say was “God have mercy on me, because I know I am a sinner.” Jesus concluded that story with an interesting comment “the tax collector went home justified and approved of God more than the Pharisee.”

While I was reading those verses, I quickly found a similar trend in social activism, especially as regards the  feminist movement. Whenever a “feminist” comes online to complain about say something that men did to her (as per men are scum), she will be inevitably assaulted by the members of the #NotAllMen movement. The members of this movement are the ones who engage in scream fests with women as well as resort to slander, abuse and even slanderous abuse in a bid to prove that they are not scum, and that it is the “feminists” who are irrational creatures who just want to antagonize everybody to show their “wokeness.” The rationale that the #NotAllMen people live by is “how can they be calling me scum with those other men? Can’t they see that I am the nice guy who is on their side and trying to help them fight the patriarchy?”

That, folks, is the superhero syndrome. These people believe that like (insert your favourite superhero here) they are also saving the world, but instead of pulling people out of burning buildings and off burning bridges, they are doing it by being nice, respectable (and definitely not scum) human beings. Thus as everyone is always happy to see superheroes come to save them from peril (except when they are not, for idiotic plot purposes *coughs* Batman versus Superman *coughs*) and nobody certainly ever calls superheroes scum, except they have an agenda. Of course when (insert your favourite superhero here) shows up, everybody stops and takes notice of him. If he is lucky the city might even give him the “key” to the city or some fancy title like “protector of the city” or “Dark Knight” or something. That forms the core of the agenda for our #NotAllMen “superheroes.” they want everybody to notice that they are not scum.

Unfortunately the problem with thinking you are a superhero trying to save an oppressed group is that you soon become a terrible, asshole jerk like the people you are condemning. In this post on rape and entitlement, I argued that plenty of men feel entitled to being given a woman as a medal for being a man. When you peddle the #NotAllMen agenda to fight “feminists” you are essentially also demanding a medal for not “being scum”. And like that Pharisee is that story, whatever condemnation you get.

In the words of the immortal sage, Tywin Lannister, “If you have to proclaim yourself a king, then you are no king.” If you need an hashtag or you have to fight with women on the internet to show that you are a nice man, then you are certainly not a nice proper man, and also you have a serious self esteem issues.

So instead of joining the #NotAllMen hashtag here is something to do the next time a feminist begins to rant on the internet. Find a comfortable chair, Read/listen to every single thing they have to say; even if they attack you, with a bag of popcorn and a cold bottle of coke to hand. Under no circumstances should you say or write a single word in response to the feminist rant. Then note the parts of the rant that you might be guilty of, and like that tax collector, say mentally to yourself (make sure nobody can hear) “I have been scum, in so and so place. I promise to do better.” And move on without fuss. The most important thing to the cause is that we all do better, it is more important that the outward show of sympathy. Because the last thing any movement needs is another Superhero.

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