Dr. Jackson Katz, one of America's leading anti-sexist male activists, spoke to students on the topic of gender violence prevention this past Tuesday, Mar. 27 in Hodson Hall. Katz created and co-founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention program (MVP), which specializes in educating and enlisting high school, collegiate and professional athletes in the fight against men's violence towards women.
Katz, an educator, filmmaker, social theorist and author, began the lecture by describing how society often ignores the perpetrators when discussing violence against women. Katz stressed the importance of language as a powerful tool when discussing gender violence; he hopes to expand this language to include men's violence against women.
When covering the important topic of rape, Katz emphasized that women being raped is not just a women's issue, but also a men's issue. Although there are numerous cases of men being raped, 99 percent of rape cases involve men committing violent acts against women. Rather than blaming women for getting raped, men should be blamed for perpetrating the act.
"We need a paradigm shift in our thinking," Katz said.
Katz was pleased to see that the audience mostly consisted of male student athletes. At most of his conferences, very few males are present.
"It is embarrassing for me to be congratulated for doing what we know men should be doing," Katz said.
In Katz' opinion, student athletes possess the platform and status on campuses to serve as agents of change. Student athletes are often associated as possessing leadership skills. If more men take a stand against gender violence by countering the cultural norms that lead to it, change will be more likely to occur. The theme of the obligation men have to counter gender violence persisted throughout Katz's talk.
While most men are not abusive, they are not doing enough to prevent violence against women.
"Just saying, 'I don't beat my girlfriend,' is not something guys should be getting high-fives for," Katz said.
Katz described how taking action could be as simple as stopping a fraternity brother from taking a girl home who is exhibiting extreme levels of inebriation. If one man takes a stand, others might follow.
Furthermore, Katz believes gender violence stems from a lack of education on the issue. From a young age, most boys are not explicitly taught to respect women. Films and video games that promote violence are widespread in today's society. Adults should teach children that the violence they see on television should not be practiced in the real world.
Katz showed a commercial that illustrated unrealistic it is for boys to ask adults for advice on how to treat women. He believes that more awareness should be spread amongst adults. In turn, adults can teach their children that gender violence is unacceptable.
Katz ended his lecture by describing how our cultural and institutional norms lead to gender violence. He showed several different media clips that portrayed how the image of masculinity has evolved over time.
A clip from Katz's educational video Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity (2000) showed how the body image of G.I. Joe figurines has changed since the early twentieth century. The circumference of their arms has grown increasingly muscular.
Katz showed a clip from another film depicting how certain professional sports, such as football, promote masculinity through violence. The clip depicted a professional athlete describing how if he did not hurt his opponent, his opponent would harm him first.
These media clips demonstrated how violence, in general, is normalized in our culture. Katz asserted that society needs to realize this flaw and eliminate the correlation between violence and masculinity.
Katz's discussion proved to be dynamic and engaging, as he encouraged open discussion with the audience.
Students were receptive to Katz's lecture and eagerly waited in line to grab a copy of Katz's outline of "10 Things Men Can Do To Prevent Gender Violence."