Hey. Sure allow me to explain.
First of all, its glaringly untrue. Real men do hurt women. The distinction between “real” vs. whatever the opposite of real is in this context is moot when men are raised in a patriarchal culture that drills into their psyche a set of prescribed gender roles that is bound to affect their perception and treatment of women. In fact, many of them validate their own sense of masculinity by instilling domination and enacting violence against women.
Secondly, this phrase is usually uttered in condemnation of blatantly violent acts of women (ie. sex trafficking and murder), but the casual aggressions that the vast majority of women deal with is never accounted for when talking about real vs. fake men, because at that point, it becomes painfully obvious that most men do gleefully engage in misogynistic behavior. What I mean by this is what about the rampant objectification of women in media and literature? What about casual rape jokes? What about street harassment and the fact that in most surveys in many regions of the world, well over 90% of women admit they are verbally or physically aggressed by a man and feel pressured to comply due to fear of backlash? What about domestic violence occurring in one third of all hetero relationships?
At what point does a “real man” not engage in belittling a woman? When it causes death or permanently entraps her in a life of misery? Is there is no space between the former and living in a world free of anti women rhetoric? The phrase doesn’t tackle all the grey area between the aforementioned and peak destruction, when in fact, its subtle microaggressions that become catalysts for cases like that of UCSB shooter, who killed women and men who associated with said women. Many men who commit grave offenses against women left hints and context clues that they were misogynists and had deeply depraved understandings of women and many don’t take heed to them until its too late.
Going back to the former point, separating real from unreal men is about protecting the concept of masculinity instead of women. Its a really coy way of derailing dignified discourse concerning the well being of women to centralizing the conversation about how “not all men are like that” when in fact, patriarchy creates the very real possibility that all men can be like that and many are. It concretizes the existence of masculinity, instead of realizing that the male pursuit of being the strongest and most victorious does in fact lead to devastating consequences, many of them gendered.
Saying “real men don’t do (x)” is a feel good, self centered mechanism that men use to relieve themselves of critically examining the world we live in and how their roles as both beneficiaries and agents of misogyny sustains a world where such violence is possible. The unreal men are to be tackled, instead of a poisonous culture that has validated them since inception. Since we say “boys will be boys” and reassuring young girls that if a boy picks on her, he must be infatuated, thus equating abuse with love. This approach treats the vast cases of globalized, politicized, socialized and institutionalized sexism as isolated incidences in an apolitical vacuum which individual males are a shame to manhood, instead of byproducts of manhood.