The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Dr. Jackson Katz Speaks at Emory

Posted on: 04.10.11

During his speech on March 23rd, 2011 to a group at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, Dr. Jackson Katz discussed the reasons men may want to reconsider being involved in working to end men’s domestic and sexual violence against women. A point that he made that is particularly timely for April’s Sexual Assault Awareness month is that the majority of rape is perpetrated by men, but the majority of men are not rapists. However, since 1 in 6 American women are victims of sexual assault at some point during their lifetimes, the fathers, sons, husbands and partners that love them often feel a residual effect of the violence that was used against the people they love. One abuser can affect many lives.

GCADV staff listened while Katz explained why men may not act when they see a woman being abused or a sexist comment being made for a few reasons. First, it’s hard for men to deal with… their emotions related to not being able to control another man’s abuse of women. From not knowing what to say, fear of ostracism by peers or even possible physical retaliation on them from an abuser, many men stay silent.

Another effect often occurs where men distance themselves from an abuser and do not get involved with ending violence against women because it is perceived as a women’s issue. Men often may often take an “us and them” approach and feel that because they are a good guy they do not have an active role to play in ending other men’s violence. For example, a man may think, “Well, I’m not like that guy and would never abuse my partner so that’s his issue.” However, Katz asserts that just “being a good guy” or “not being a rapist” is not enough.

Men owe it to their daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and friends to be involved in men’s violence against women because it is truly is a men’s issue. The only reason women are involved so heavily in the issue is because so many women are victims. Why do women respect men that are involved in ending violence against women? It’s rare to see a man in the room. Abusive men are causing pain and violence for the women that non-abusive men care for and love. A non-abusive man undoubtedly will experience some of the residue of the abuse that a woman he loves has experienced, even if she never mentions it.

It is clear that not all men are abusers so why do so many abusive men assert themselves and act in ways that support their sexist beliefs without being challenged by non-abusive men? Social shame or ostracism, fear of retaliation or the percetion of being “soft” are some of the reasons men choose to remain silent. Katz explained that it’s easier for men who are public role models, such as athletes, to take a stand because they are physically powerful and respected by other men. Opening opportunities for influential male athletes to take a stand against men’s violence against women makes it easier for the average guy to feel supported in speaking out against violence. One of the most important things men can do is to use the power they do hold to influence their community in positive ways. Call your friends out when they disrespect women, use your power and influence in the workplace to advocate for stronger policies that protect women that may be victims of violence. It’s likely that even men that don’t feel that they have power actually have more power than than an abused individual.

Without men taking responsibility and being intentional in their belief that nobody should live a life that has involved beating, sexual assault or patterns of power and control in their intimate relationships, the minority of men that do inflict violence against women will continue to affect the 1 in 4 women that currently experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. I’d like to leave you with the most powerful thing I recall Katz saying. He challenged men to get involved and instead of just being inactive bystanders when they see or know about violence.

“Raise the bar higher. It’s not enough to say I don’t beat or rape,” he said.

For ideas on how you can get involved, please email us at info@gcadv.org or check out our 2010 Domestic Violence Fatality Review Annual Report for the facts and ideas about how you can work in your faith community or workplace to take a stance against violence.

Another effect often occurs where men distance themselves from an abuser and do not get involved with ending violence against women because it is perceived as a women’s issue. Men often may often take an “us and them” approach and feel that because they are a good guy they do not have an active role to play in ending other men’s violence. For example, a man may think, “Well, I’m not like that guy and would never abuse my partner so that’s his issue.” However, Katz asserts that just “being a good guy” or “not being a rapist” is not enough.

Men owe it to their daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and friends to be involved in men’s violence against women because it is truly is a men’s issue. The only reason women are involved so heavily in the issue is because so many women are victims. Why do women respect men that are involved in ending violence against women? It’s rare to see a man in the room. Abusive men are causing pain and violence for the women that non-abusive men care for and love. A non-abusive man undoubtedly will experience some of the residue of the abuse that a woman he loves has experienced, even if she never mentions it.

It is clear that not all men are abusers so why do so many abusive men assert themselves and act in ways that support their sexist beliefs without being challenged by non-abusive men?  Social shame or ostracism, fear of retaliation or the percetion of being “soft” are some of the reasons men choose to remain silent.  Katz explained that it’s easier for men who are public role models, such as athletes, to take a stand because they are physically powerful and respected by other men. Opening opportunities for influential male athletes to take a stand against men’s violence against women makes it easier for the average guy to feel supported in speaking out against violence. One of the most important things men can do is to use the power they do hold to influence their community in positive ways. Call your friends out when they disrespect women, use your power and influence in the workplace to advocate for stronger policies that protect women that may be victims of violence.  It’s likely that even men that don’t feel that they have power actually have more power than than an abused individual.

Without men taking responsibility and being intentional in their belief that nobody should live a life that has involved beating, sexual assault or patterns of power and control in their intimate relationships, the minority of men that do inflict violence against women will continue to affect the 1 in 4 women that currently experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. I’d like to leave you with the most powerful thing I recall Katz saying. He challenged men to get involved and instead of just being inactive bystanders when they see or know about violence.

“Raise the bar higher. It’s not enough to say I don’t beat or rape,” he said.

For ideas on how you can get involved, please email us at info@gcadv.org or check out our 2010 Domestic Violence Fatality Review Annual Report for the facts and ideas about how you can work in your faith community or workplace to take a stance against violence.

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