Katz: Men Have a Role to Play in Preventing Gender Violence

'It's right to speak out,' says author, educator, filmmaker

March 14, 2014

Jackson Katz

Hundreds of members of the Knox College community turned out for Dr. Jackson Katz's presentation, "More Than a Few Good Men: A Lecture on American Manhood and Violence Against Women." Katz is an author, filmmaker, and renowned pioneer in educating people to prevent gender violence.

The March 10 event was "a demonstration of the College's ongoing commitment to gender equity and ending sexual harassment, as well as a call to all of us to be part of the solution to this problem," said President Teresa Amott.

"At the core of our historic mission of access and excellence are the efforts to provide all Knox College students with an educational environment that is free from discrimination of all types, including sexual harassment, misconduct, and violence," she added.

Katz focused on gender violence as a societal issue, not only as a so-called "women's issue." Men must be willing to step up their efforts to prevent violence and harassment, he said.

"It's right to speak out, and men need to be speaking out," Katz said.Jackson Katz

One way for men to help prevent gender violence (which most often involves men as perpetrators and women as victims) is to implement the "bystander approach," Katz said. A "bystander" can be a friend, teammate, co-worker, or anyone else who isn't a perpetrator or victim of violence.

"The goal of this approach -- in this case, in male culture -- is to get guys who are not abusive to start challenging men who are," Katz said. Bystanders also must make it clear that a man who abuses someone will lose status among his male peers. (Photo at right: Jackson Katz, right, meets with Knox students and signs copies of his book, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.)

Bystanders must be prepared to take action in various types of situations, not just when physical violence is happening. They should be willing to step in and say something, for example, when a man makes sexist comments while socializing with a group of other men.

"If you don't say anything or challenge them, in a sense, isn't your silence a form of consent and complicity?" Katz asked.

Katz, an author, educator, filmmaker, and cultural theorist, is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work in the field of gender violence prevention education and critical media literacy. He is co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading gender violence prevention initiative in professional and college athletics. He has written two books, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help and Leading Men: Presidential Campaigns and the Politics of Manhood.

Knox students said they appreciated hearing from Katz.

"The biggest thing I learned was about changing the way we talk about these issues and how men can play a part in that," said Matt Hemmingson '16. "I'm definitely going to start watching how I joke around."

"I think it was a good way to try and jumpstart a wider conversation on campus," said Natalia Binkowski '14. "One of the best and most personal points for me was his discussion of how gender violence can impact children who witness violence."

Mikko Jimenez '15 added, "I liked this idea that (by) being a bystander, you can be active and you can be helping."