Stop asking me ‘what about men?’ 

Everyone who follows my blog knows that my best work is written in rage, or port. But Christmas has gone now so no more port. 

Well, at least I still have rage. So back to that. 

Recently I have been getting increasingly frustrated with ‘whataboutery’ every single time I write or speak about women or girls. 

For those of you who don’t know what that word means, ‘whataboutery’ is when someone responds to a difficult issue or question with a counter issue or question that completely derails the conversation. 

Example:
Mai: My research focussed on the murder of women in Yemen 
Randomer: uh, this is a bit sexist. What about the murder of men in Yemen? Don’t you care about men? 

Example 2
Pam: I’m really upset with you for stealing from my purse 
Mel: What about that time you stole from the local shop? You’re not innocent either, you know! 
Pam: I was 9. 
(Haha) 

Familiar with that? Yep? Thought you might be. Sometimes reminds me of gaslighting. 
Okay, so back to the rage. Rage that I need to put in context for this blog to make a jot of sense. 

Almost 5 years ago, my father in law died after we had tried everything to help him and begged every agency and service for help. We got the dreaded phone call from police to say they had found a body. It was his. We had to go and identify him. He was a very vulnerable adult struggling with addiction, homelessness and a very complicated trauma history. 

At his wake, we decided to set up a charity for male mental health and well-being and we named it ‘The Eaton Foundation’ (TEF).

So in 2013 we founded the charity, of which I am still the Chairperson. The charity only supports adult men. We grew exponentially. I mean – from like 10 men to 150 men in one year. In the second year of operation I managed to secure over £270k of funding and funded the renovation of a huge old derelict building which we turned into the first male mental health and well-being centre in the UK. 

The manager runs it on the day-to-day, along with his staff and volunteers. We now employ 6 people and have a further 9 volunteers. We see hundreds of men a year who benefit from completely free, lifelong support including counselling, benefits advice, food parcels, housing advocacy, legal advice, IT suite, music and band practice, employment clubs and training courses, fitness clubs, art therapy and so on. Some guys have been coming every day for years. Our clientele is between 18 and 85 years old from every walk of life you can imagine. 

Why am I telling you this? 

Because in those 5 years, I have NEVER received the amount of abuse and ‘whataboutery’ that I get for my work and research with women and girls. 
Most of you know me for my work with women and girls and my controversial tumble into CSE. My PhD focusses on the victim blaming of women and girls in society which includes one of the largest ever literature reviews of every factor in society that supports victim blaming of women and girls (I do mean every factor I could find evidence for – from porn to Hinduism). 

I have a career history in rape centre management and criminal justice management of vulnerable and intimidated witness programmes, which is where I built my experience and knowledge of sexual violence, homicides, trafficking and other serious crimes across my courts. 

I launched a study last year, exploring the many different forms of victim blaming women and girls can experience. Over 700 people responded. My other recent studies have included interviewing women who have been blamed for rape and abuse, interviewing therapists and support workers who work with women who blame themselves for being abused or attacked and a complex study in which I developed and validated a new psychometric measure of victim blaming of women. 
I honestly cannot express how much whataboutery I get. 

Here are some real examples: 

‘Don’t you think you’re being sexist by only writing about women in this article?’

‘This article is good but where are your studies on men?’ 

‘I don’t condone murder but don’t you think you are gender biased, only caring about the murders of women?’ 

‘You can tell the psychologist who wrote this study is a sexist bitch who hates men’

‘This study was ridiculous. All you care about is women! What about men?’

‘You should have your PhD removed. This is so sexist. None of your research is about men.’

‘By only caring about women, you basically say that all men are rapists.’

‘This is great Jessica! But I wonder if you can now build one of these for boys and men and why they aren’t included in the first place?’

‘Why do you only focus on women? Men can get abused as well, you know!’

‘What about men, cunt?’

Honestly, I could go on forever and ever. 

In fact, I did one study where there was a free text question at the end and a whopping 9% of respondents chose to use that box to criticise me for not researching men. I say whopping because the free text box didn’t even ask them a question about that and 63 people still managed to use the box to whack in some ‘whataboutery’. 
Not only that but a further 14% (over 90 people) left comments that were just plain nasty or abusive. One guy told me that my work was shit and he hopes I fail my PhD. And then left his full name and job title. He was an academic at a university. In my field. He even put some kisses on. 
And what perplexes me about all of this, is that I have no such experiences of running TEF. 

I can’t tell you about the hundreds of messages or tweets we get asking ‘what about women?’ – because it’s never happened. 

I don’t have any stories about the times we got sent a tonne of abuse when we conducted research with general public in the community about male mental health stigma – because it’s never happened. 
I can switch over to the TEF twitter account right now and write literally anything about men and nothing bad will ever happen. Our Facebook page has thousands of followers and we never get threats, abuse or whataboutery. 

Fair enough, my Twitter is currently at about 4.5k followers but my teeny tiny Facebook page is only on a few hundred followers and I get between 10-20 abusive messages and comments a week – almost exclusively comments about me focusing on women and girls – which usually results in me being called a ‘fat, ugly feminist cunt’ or something along those eloquent lines. 


Recently this has all caused me to reflect. 

Why don’t I get any abuse when I speak and write about men and boys? 
Why am I hailed? 

Why did we win 6 charity awards and over £300k in the first 18 months of operation? 

Why did I end up on every TV channel and radio in the UK? Why can I launch studies and campaigns and videos and appeals for TEF about male mental health and receive ZERO whataboutery comments?

And why do I get shouted down if I even dare post one tweet about violence against women or rape statistics or murders of women by partners? 

Why do I get hundreds of messages and tweets every week asking me:
‘But what about men?’ 

And actually, this isn’t rocket science. This is uncomfortable but it’s real talk:

Women are socialised into their gender roles (gender roles are harmful, narrow, stereotypical characteristics and expectations assigned to males and females to conform to a societal norm) to not even possess a shred of the sense of entitlement that men have. Women do not read a campaign about male mental health or male abuse or male cancers and furiously tweet back ‘what about women, you cunt?!’ because they didn’t think about themselves when they read it. They didn’t see the campaign as two fingers up to women.

Perfect example: Movember. 


Have you EVER in your life seen women kicking off that Movember is sexist? Or that the campaign should include women? Or that focusing on testicular cancer is exclusionary? No. Have you fuck. 

Second perfect example: Male suicide rates. 

We know that the leading cause of death in young men aged 18-35 is suicide. This is the strongest symptom of a patriarchal society where emotionless males struggle to cope with trauma and feelings, can’t open up, don’t feel safe to talk and become completely overwhelmed by emotions they are taught are ‘feminine’, which further induces shame and stigma. 
In all my years I have never seen women jump on those campaigns yelling ‘women commit suicide too, you know!!’ Or ‘what about women?’ 

Switch it over. Women’s marches. Pussy hats. IWD. Counting dead women. VAWG strategies. Women’s health screening. Women’s reproductive health. Women’s mental health. Rape campaigns. #metoo. 

There is ALWAYS someone saying ‘what about men though?’ under all of those issues. It’s as sure as taxes and death. 

Like a depressing new catchphrase nobody wants:

There’s only three things you can be certain of in life: taxes, death and some randomer yelling ‘what about men?’ every time you talk about women’s issues.’



‘Whataboutery’ comes from a place of misogyny. An arrogant, derailing technique used to respond to a campaign, video, research study, intervention, organisation or communication that screams ‘I don’t care about women, talk about men!!’ 
And the proof is in the pudding for me. Because when I do all those things with a focus on boys and men, I’m a fucking hero. But when I do all of those things and focus on girls and women, I’m a fat, ugly feminist cunt. 

So I need to explain something else. This is not about equality. ‘Whataboutery’ has nothing to do with equality. It’s not about reminding us that men suffer too. Social issues aren’t equal. 

When I write a tweet about women being murdered or raped, I didn’t forget men. I didn’t forget they could be murdered or raped. I didn’t accidentally miss them off my tweet. I simply CHOSE to talk about the experiences of females. It is not helpful, or clever, or promoting ‘equality’ to write to a researcher specialising in women’s studies and tell her in three paragraphs why she should focus on men. 

It is not useful to ‘send a gentle reminder than men can get raped too, you know’. 
If you’re reading this and you know you have done this to someone, please think twice before doing it again. It’s not helpful. It’s derailing. 
We do not need to centre men in every conversation we have. Women and girls are valid entities, independent from men.
We need to get to a point where we can talk about women’s issues and get the same level of respect we get when we talk about men’s issues. 
Until then, your ‘Whataboutery’ is unwelcome here. 


What about that? 




Written by Dr Jessica Taylor

My free videos at http://www.victimfocus.org.uk

My new book is out in September 2018 – go to http://www.victimfocus.org.uk/thelittleorangebook for the teaser! 

1,043 thoughts on “Stop asking me ‘what about men?’ 

  1. Thank you , I loved reading this and it will certainly inform my future responses when delivering my GBV training 🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. Please, please as a male victim don´t. Don´t erase us, or contribute to our erasure by using this article. It´s bad enough, that we don´t have almost any allies and people working with victims overlook and discriminate against us. So please, don´t use this article, those people who say What about men, are one of the few who care about us and fight for us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. men get more support and allies than women, you are the selfish narcissist erasing women when you harass people in introspective conversations that don’t benefit you.

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      2. If men don’t care about other men or themselves don’t expect women to. It’s not a woman’s job to fix men. Fix yourself by finding resources for men. Don’t depend on women for fuck sake!

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  2. !!!!!!!
    Jessica I think you are missing a point that is very crucial to this whole conversation. Men are so oversensitive about themselves for one reason and one reason only. They are not able to carry a baby, a new life inside them. They lack that superhuman ability. And when and because they realise that, they try to explain their existence against women. They feel like women women are special and they are not. Therefore they rage whenever there is another reason for them to be missed out or ignored. Therefore they find reasons to belittle women, so they can become bigger in their own eyes. They see us creaters who carry babies and they can’t do that. They are trying to find a reason why they exist. And that’s why they stick together, because they miss that one life-giving ability. At the heart they feel we are superior. Hence all the “what about men” questions that you are getting. They are fighting for their self-worth. And women have just been led into a corner and mislead for centuries, so they do not realise what the true issue underneath it all is.

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  3. I suppose these feminists aren’t biased, cherry picking statistics to suit their agenda.

    LeeLee, if we can’t recognise our own bias, how do you think men will?

    E.g. 96% roughly, of sex offences are males. Sounds awful. what’s wrong with men, eh? Feminists use these figures.

    Uh yeah, except these horrible men are roughly 4% of the actual male population. Significant, but overwhelmingly a minority. You can’t judge an average guy by Ted Bundy, or Elliot Rodgers.

    We have to hear both sides. If you won’t, then you are like a damn fundamentalist extremist.

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    1. A recent survey confirmed that 97% of women in the UK admitted to being sexually harassed by men. By your reasoning, that 4% within society must be very very busy, no?

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  4. This was an amazing read. Everything I have quietly noticed in society was written here, and it’s so refreshing to see another person eloquently put this common phenomenon into words.

    There are so many, SO MANY, instances where men will bring up men’s issues when talking about women’s issues. It’s infuriating. Nobody said men don’t have problems. But the data speaks for itself.

    Women attempt suicide more than men, but because they aren’t as successful with it, their concerns are belittled and they are considered to be “attention seekers.” Men are the majority of rapists, and they are the main rapists for BOTH females and males. We need to focus on the larger issue at hand. For so long women’s issues have been swept to the side, and when they start to FINALLY be addressed, it’s cruel for a person to say “what about men?” as if men haven’t been the main focus in society for centuries.

    And here’s the kicker, whenever a person says “what about men?” they don’t actually care about men’s issues. How often do you hear that phrase outside of a context where someone is talking about women’s issues? If they genuinely cared about rape and mental health, they wouldn’t say “what about?” They would be supportive and understanding. So thank you for voicing this. Women and girls still have a long way to go before we reach equality in society. But we’ll get there. We have to keep fighting and speaking up.

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    1. If it was only men who did this you might have a point, Sarah.

      On a conference for abused women you can quite rightly exclude men, specifically. Can I ask for a man only conference for abused men? No. That would be sexist.

      When we talk about male issues women can’t stay out of it either, so until you do, we will have our say on yours as well.

      Respect and sensitivity go both ways. Try looking up male disposability, and the empathy gap. You won’t of course, because men’s suffering is invisible to you. The author of this blog at least does have some empathy for men.

      You only used an example to deflect.

      Helping men and women shouldn’t be a competition, but a lot of you seem determined to make it one. A shame.

      How many of you would see a man under a bridge with a dog, and only cry for the dog, I wonder?

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  5. This reminded me of a man genuinely asking why there was a daily ‘Woman’s Hour’ on BBC Radio 4 and not a ‘Men’s Hour’. The presenter answered ‘because the other 23 hours are Men’s Hour’.

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  6. Great piece of writing, carry on all the good work you do for ALL humanity. I feel a mixture of things for those who don’t understand, pity and anger being two of them. Thank you.

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  7. Dr Taylor, thank you for this eloquent and thought-provoking article. Do you ever report this abuse? You mention the academic at a university- I hope his employers would be dismayed by such behaviour. Did you let them know about it? I’m interested in how women can deal with this kind of abuse. Thank you x

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  8. I notice you are now screening out opinions contrary to your own.

    Feminists are fascists. No equality, no debate.

    On another entry you told someone you believe in questioning all ideologies.

    Yes, but not in having your own questioned. Your movement is dangerous. So it must be robustly challenged.

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    1. She obviously isn’t doing a good job of screening opposing opinions as yours got through.
      What is your problem with someone who is trying to help men and women?

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  9. I have just seen this – referenced on the online ABC Book Club today. Today in Australia women marched to protest against the rape of women, the victim blaming and in sheer anger. The Australian PM reacted in parliament with his usual entitled white male response. The entrance to a city railway station, after the march, sported at least 10 policemen – what did they think women were going to do.

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  10. Thank you Jessica, I have been persued in post relational coercive control and malicious litigation for over a decade by two colluding perpetrators of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence. Being heard and protected is an incredibly challenging task amidst a system that favors male perspective and agenda ahead of victims of violence and abuse. Days and weeks of life spent whilst supporting oneself and children through associated trauma, trying to hold down work and produce huge court documents, police reports and evidence. Then the perpetrators in-court heresay is often taken verbatim without evidence.
    Secretive courts where no court advisors have culpability wrest abused children from abused mother’s under the guise of PAS. What about men! Well statistics show 30% of women raising abuse in family court have their children placed with the abusive parent and only 6% of men in the same situation. 86% of domestic violence is perpetrated by men and in the last 5 years, 100% of child deaths related to domestic abuse were perpetrated by men. So! What about men?
    Society is letting men down by allowing a culture where women can continue to be considered lesser, smaller, possessions and chattels. Respect and boundaries should be taught in school. Whilst we continue however on the ever odious party line ‘ boys will be boys’ to excuse disgusting transgressions of equality, and continue to give credence to the whinging of narcissists losing their ‘supply’, we as a society will continue in the disenfranchisement of women. It is the modern day witch hunt.
    I’m interested in your study and would be willing to share personal experiences and data if useful. These experiences are not my secrets to keep. I did not ask to be victimized, however, I refuse to be forced into a into a perpetual victimhood. The law must show equality and respect to both sexes. How else can our communities thrive?

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    1. Yes both. Will you hold another vigil for the scores of black boys dying in London every year? Funny how everyone turns the page on that.

      White person dies. England grieves.
      Black person. Oh just another day.

      We also know what it’s like to be scared when someone in uniform turns up. Sean Rigg, remember?

      White women have no idea.

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  11. You are either being dishonest, or in denial. No one with a PHD could be that clueless. The media, the government, the entertainment industry, and commercial industry touts your feminist message. The men’s issues camp gets nothing in the way of sponsorship or funding. Nothing. The gendered DV message to the contrary gets massive exposure and funding. Women’s rights has a huge representation in politics. Men’s issues – 0. At the European Union UN Women is a powerful force. Men’s issues – 0. In western governments, for example here in the US, all branches of government have gender based programs for women that are concerned with women’s health and well being. Gender based programs for men – 0. What you are talking about isn’t “whataboutism”. Whataboutism is when one tries to deflect from a specific issue. What people are doing is pointing out your hypocrisy regarding your exclusion of men regarding DV and IPV. That’s not whataboutism. Your absolutely bizarre statement that your position is justified because it’s “not an equivalent issue” shows that you either need to go back to school for skepticism training and application of the scientific method, or once again you are being dishonest. There is a veritable mountain of data and peer reviewed empirical studies that show that DV and IPV is close to 50/50 give or take regarding violence and initiation rates. Oh and there is no such data that shows otherwise. You know this. There is no such thing as a part time skeptic. Taking your critical thinking cap off to push some irrational ideological notions, unfortunately puts your research as a psychologist in doubt all the way across the board. BTW the first time you utter a feminist ideological term like “mansplaining” or any such other silly term rather than attacking my argument itself, then any actual skeptic or scientist reading this is going to have a field day with you.

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  12. It’s important to get the perspective of someone involved in helping both men and women. Your lived experience of ‘whataboutery’ is so revealing. It’s difficult to see how anyone reading this could still say ‘what about…’ when you’ve made it clear from the outset how much work you do helping men in society. Thank you for all you do to help both men and women. You’ll always get the negative comments because some people are inherently jealous of anyone else getting attention who’s not them. They can’t see past their own issues to help others even if other people have a much bigger problem than them. Again, thank you for your service to the community.

    Like

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