Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Playing Not All Men feels like being sucker-punched – and that’s the point

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in your life, you’re bound to know about the MeToo movement, as well as that deafening phrase of ‘not all men’ that usually follows any discussion of it. Not All Men, a game developed by Katerina Borodina, lets you explore what it feels like to silence women by screaming ‘not all men’ at them.

You play as your typical white guy protagonist, and your job is a simple one: silence women. The women in the game will begin to tell their stories. Sometimes it’ll be about a creepy uncle, or someone at a Christmas party touching them inappropriately. Sometimes it’s a homophobic slur or a racist jab at them. Either way, they must be silenced.

There’s a reason why I need to silence these women: to stay relevant. To score those internet points and make myself feel like the big man I very clearly am not. If I don’t shout ‘NOT ALL MEN’ at these women, I disappear and the game is over.

Not All Men

As a woman, playing the game made me feel wrong all over. There are women of colour, queer women and just women who have been targeted by men at very young ages. I don’t want to silence them, but that’s what makes Borodina‘s game feel so raw and necessary. To show that this behaviour is still very apparent even today, especially online.

After a while of playing, and feeling deeply uncomfortable throughout the whole process, I decided to just not correct anyone. What would happen then?

A unicorn popped up at the right of my screen, stating I was one of a kind and the game even called me a ‘soy boy’. That sounds about every argument I’ve ever seen online and it had me chuckling at how Not All Men perfectly captures the ludicrous nature of silencing women, particularly those who are minorities, due to something as stilted as pride.

It’s a great game and one that I’ll be thinking about a while. Check it out for yourselves here.