I’ve been feeling a little deflated recently in the face of the malingering (growing?) problem of gender and sexual violence. It seems that everywhere I look there’s either a new horrible news story about sexual violence or a new TV show/movie with highly sexualized violence purely for entertainment’s sake. All this feels especially sad because I honestly thought at one point (in the ’90’s) that we were going to be over this as a culture. Maybe I was naive, but it really seemed like things might take a turn for the better with all the gender equality activism that started in the ’70’s.
So, thank goodness for amazing male feminists like Dr. Jackson Katz! I just watched his TEDx talk on the important role men can and should play in ending male-perpetrated violence (against women, girls, boys and other men) and I was once again feeling a little more optimistic about our collective future. Here’s his awesome 20-minute TED lecture -so worth the time to listen to his wise words! Below that you can check out his list of 10 things men can do to prevent gender violence. Let’s share this great info with the men in our lives!
- Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
- If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
- Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
- If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
- If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
- Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
- Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
- Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence. Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
- Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
- Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example