Violence against women: It’s a Men’s Issue

“In the end what will hurt the most is not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Jackson Katz gave a TED talk about how violence against women is a men’s issue. He starts with how our culture has turned its focus from the perpetrator to victim bashing. He goes on to say that calling these ‘gender issues’ or ‘women’s issues’ gives men an excuse to not pay attention and relieves them of any responsibility. Men have largely been removed from the conversation that is centrally about men, as we are still seeing women, and children- both male and female- continually being abused and raped. Our society produces these abusers and rapists, and the porno and sports cultures (and film, and television, and magazines, and advertising) do nothing but aggravate the problem. Katz accurately summarizes that both women and men are victims of violence, both have female friends and acquaintances they care deeply for and would protect, and for that the men must stand up and challenge sexist comments amongst peers.  Bystanders can’t afford to stay silent (“Isn’t your silence a form of consent and complacency?” -Katz). He raises the point that in peer groups, when men make sexist comments and are challenged by other males, resulting in radical decline in status in their own peer groups, that is when change will occur. In the workplace, there should be ‘leadership’ training, not ‘sensitivity’ training. You wouldn’t stand for blatant racism and bigotry, so why is sexism still tolerated in such passive, sinister ways?

“I understand that a lot of the women who have been trying to speak out about these issues… often get shouted down for their efforts. They get called nasty names like ‘male basher’ and ‘man hater’ and the disgusting and offensive ‘feminazi’. You know what all this is about? It’s called ‘kill the messenger’. It’s ‘cause the women who are standing up and speaking up for themselves and for other women as well as for men and boys- It’s a statement to them to sit down and shut up. Keep the current system in place, because we don’t like it when people rock the boat, we don’t like it when people challenge our power. And thank goodness that women haven’t done that. Thank goodness that we live in a world where there’s so much womens leadership that can counteract that. One of the powerful roles that men can play in this work is that… we can be heard saying some things that women often can’t be heard saying.”

– Jackson Katz

As the great and evil Ursula would say,

“The solution to your problem is simple”

Don’t kill the messenger, and man the fuck up.

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