(Alli, the cartoonist, is speaking to the audience while holding a large book with a cover that says “Rhetoric in Practice.”)
Alli: There seem to be a lot of people out there who are upset by generalizations about men. English is a heavily idiomatic language and generalizations are commonly understood as a conversational shorthand technique to talk about groups without having to identify individuals or outliers within the group.
“Parents are concerned with rising college costs” is a generalization that leaves out parents who aren’t concerned to focus on the parents who are concerned, but it doesn’t mean that every parent is concerned about an increase in tuition. It isn’t literal. And holding up one example of a parent who isn’t worried about college costs doesn’t erase or devalue the opinions of parents who are concerned.
With that in mind, here’s why it’s a bit unsettling when someone is totally okay with generalizing about women, but can’t handle it when they hear generalizations about men.
(A woman and a man in the foreground are talking to one another; in the background a woman is speaking with a man who is driving a flashy car.)
Man: Women are so shallow, all they care about is finding a rich boyfriend.
Woman: Um, well, most women don’t—
Man: They’re such gold diggers.
(The woman is speaking to a different man. They are standing in front of a Sephora store.)
Man: I don’t get why women freak out over makeup.
Woman: I guess some women—
Man: I mean, it’s basically lying with your face.
(The woman is talking to a third man; in the background, a different woman is walking with a man who’s got his arm around her.)
Man: Why do women always go for jerks?
Woman: Look, a few—
Man: I mean, I’m a kind, sweet, considerate guy. Why choose someone like him over someone like me?
(The woman is walking with all three men from the previous panels. A man in a car driving by is catcalling her.)
Catcaller: Nice ass, honey, shake it harder!
Woman: Why do men think it’s okay to catcall a—
The Three Men (together): Not all men!
Woman: Generalizing is a rhetorical device, and you all know it. Unless you take everything literally – in which case, you’ve called me gold-digging, a liar, and implied all my partners are jerks… which means I should probably stop hanging out with you, because while all men may not be assholes, you three certainly are.