By Mike McPhee
Gender violence incidents like sexual assault, domestic violence and rape are frequently labeled as “women’s issues,” but men must take an active role in preventing them as well, said a prominent sexual assault awareness speaker on Monday.
Dr. Jackson Katz, who is internationally recognized for his work in gender violence prevention through education of men and boys, gave a lecture titled “More Than a Few Good Men: Lecture on American Manhood and Violence Against Women” in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts on Monday night.
Katz said that men of all ages cannot continue to deny that other men are the perpetrators of almost all gender violence. He called upon men to have the courage to speak out against cultural norms and perceptions of masculinity that support violence against women.
“If we monsterize the men who do the bad behavior, then we can distance ourselves from it … The true wisdom for men is not how distant these people are, but how much we have in common with them,” Katz said.
Gender violence is more widespread than many people realize, Katz said, because the emotional and personal nature of the issue often prevents dialogue from starting about it.
“Statistically speaking, many women in the room have been sexually assaulted. That’s a fact,” he said.
Although women are much more frequently the victims of sexual assault and rape than men, Katz emphasized that gender violence incidents still affect men indirectly. Examples given by Katz include fathers whose daughters were raped, men who have relationship issues when dating women who were emotionally hurt by sexual abuses in the past, and children who grew up in homes with men who abused their mothers.
These “bystanders” who are embedded in the effects of gender violence are the focus of the Mentors in Violence Program (MVP) that Katz co-founded. The program educates people on ways to speak up and prevent the violent acts before they occur.
“The peer culture polices itself,” Katz said.
The event was cosponsored by the Women’s Resource Center and the Interfraternity Council. A large portion of the Greeks on campus attended the event.
“The onus is on us as men to take a strong stance and deal with the issue of sexual assault in a better way. As Greek leaders, we need to lead this movement,” said Michael Higgins ’12, Interfraternity Council President.
Katz also brought clips from some of his educational films that he has made, but the projector system failed and most of the clips could not be shown to the audience. More information about his films is available on his website.
Students who are interested in further discussing gender violence prevention should check the Message Center for more information from the Women’s Resource Center about upcoming readings of Katz’s book, “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.”