Anti-sexist activist Jackson Katz encouraged students at an upper school assembly Monday to shift the rhetoric of gender violence from a women’s issue to a male issue.
“Historically, people have seen sexual assault and gender violence issues as women’s issues that some good men help out with. I argue that these are men’s issues first and foremost,” Katz said.
Katz, who has a Ph.D. in culture studies from UCLA and has directed the United States Marine Corps’ first violence prevention program, specified that categorizing this violence as solely a problem for women gives men an excuse not to listen.
“Instead of remaining silent, we have to speak out to make it clear that we do not accept abusive behaviors,” Katz said.
He further included that decreasing gender violence is especially helpful to men, specifically male children of abusive families and victims of male to male assault.
Solving these problems necessitates a change in the way we see masculinity and violence, he said.
“We have to raise the bar about what it means to be a good guy, in the United States,” Katz said. “A guy who needs to prove every second that he is a tough guy, is not tough. A strong man would say ‘big deal’ and move on.”
Katz said that “We need to raise the bar on what a good guy is, if it just means ‘I am not a rapist.'”
Katz also showed a video he made titled “Up the Ante” depicting the relationship between men and violent acts in the media and how it shapes society’s perception of masculinity.
He credited the work of female leaders on allowing more individuals to take a stand against these issues.
“Women’s leadership and advocacy, has made it more acceptable to speak out against these issues,” Katz said.