Last Friday, internationally recognized author and social theorist Dr. Jackson Katz shared his ideas on activism in gender violence prevention, especially involving the role of men.
This was Katz’s second appearance in Grand Forks in the past few years because of effort by the Boundary Women’s Transitional House.
“I travel a lot and I give lots of talks and do lots of training in a number of different contexts. You know there’s public lectures, there’s smaller training and everything in between,” said Katz about what he does.
Katz also did a seminar on Friday afternoon, which involved language exercises and how phrases can become more euphemized, such as the phrase, “John beat Mary,” which passively becomes, “Mary was beaten by John,” until finally John is taken out of the sentence with, “Mary was beaten.”
“This is an example of how linguistically, our focus is on Mary… and John is gone,” Katz said, explaining that men are taken out of the context as if the issue of sexual violence is only an issue for women.
Katz said this is a big problem today and is a message carried out in sports, which glorify violence and media, which sets an unrealistic image for men getting bigger and stronger and more violent
Katz also focused on violence and sexual assault prevention for women and girls and said that what a lot of institutions call risk prevention is actually more risk reduction.
He said that when risk reduction does focus on men, it’s historically been men as perpetrators or potential perpetrators.
“That model of women as victims and men as perpetrators was a problematic model for a number of reasons,” he said.
Reasons like the one above, where the blame is put on the women as the victim rather than looking at what society ingrains in the population from a very young age.
Katz even looked at Disney’s representation of women, which when examined hasn’t changed much since 1937 when Snow White and the Seven Dwarves came out.
Katz also said that males in the dominant sports, such as hockey and football, which may involve some sexism and privilege, also are a chance to set good examples in society.
“It’s one thing to deconstruct that and to try to critically examine how men in the sports culture learn to behave and how that then becomes a model for other men but there’s also the positive side which is how do you take that in a positive way and stimulate men’s leadership in those cultures.”