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Humane Educator’s Toolbox: Breaking the Silence of Men About Gender Violence

Written by Marsha Rakestraw | Published on May 31, 2013 | Filed under Humane Connection
Jackson Katz TEDx talk screenshot The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Humane Education website at http://humaneeducation.org/blog/2013/05/31/violence-silence/

How does the focus of our society go so quickly from “John beat Mary” to “Mary is a battered woman”, with John nowhere in the picture?

Why do we ask questions about the victims of violence (Why was she doing that? What was she wearing?), rather than ask “What’s going on with men?”?

Why do we see “women’s issues” and “gender issues” and “children’s issues” as women’s issues that some good men help out with?

In his recent TEDx talk, Dr. Jackson Katz, an anti-sexist activist and expert and educator on gender violence prevention issues, reframes the conversation about gender violence issues. Katz says, in fact, that the realm of domestic violence, sexual violence, sexism and similar issues that he categorizes as “gender violence issues” are largely men’s issues, and that men need to work (together with women) to “break the silence in male culture about the ongoing tragedy of men’s violence against women and children.”

Katz says that “adult men with power are who we need to be holding accountable” and that, although there are millions of men who care deeply about these issues, because they affect their mothers and sisters and daughters and friends, “… caring deeply is not enough. We need more men…with the courage and strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women, not against them. We owe it to women… but we also owe it to our sons.”

Dr. Katz’s talk is an important tool for discussion with older students, not only because violence against women and children is so entrenched in our society, but also because the privilege inherent in being the dominant group remains so invisible, and because the role of men as active leaders in stopping such violence is so crucial.

~ Marsha

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