A woman is talking about a real issue in the world with the way (certain) men treat women. Only she’s just complaining about it on Twitter with a character limit so she just says "men."
Immediately her mentions are flooded with cries of "not all men." Suddenly the conversation she was trying to have is derailed by people saying they are not like this.
Here’s the problem with "not all men."
The minute you say "not all men," you shut down any valid conversation to make something better.
If I’m talking about rape statistics and you say, "not all men," we’re no longer talking about the horrifying amount of people raped. We’re talking about whether or not everyone is a rapist (spoiler alert, we both know they’re not).
If I’m talking about catcalling and you say not all men, we stop talking about how men on the street feel entitled to talk about my body, we’re talking about how sometimes men that I walk past don’t harass me.
It changes the conversation from something that is happening to women that shouldn’t be to the fact that not every man does this, so we shouldn’t be talking about it.
Maybe not all men do these things, but enough do these things that I feel comfortable saying "men" when I talk about these issues.
Because it’s not just a single man or a few men, it’s a lot of men.
And it might not be every single one of you, but it’s enough that these are consistent problems. If there are just a few shitty men doing these things, catcalling and talking down to and assaulting women, why is it such a universal thing that most women can relate to? It might not be all men, but all women experience these kinds of things.
If the first thing you choose to do when a woman talks about how men have treated her in the past and how it seems like a systematic problem is to say, "not all men," you’re enabling men to keep doing that.
Saying "not all men" makes you as much a part of the problem as the men she’s talking about.