Time to Talk About Misogynist Bullying
By Nina Burleigh - The Huffington Post, Published April 12, 2013
If you see something, say something. That paranoid punch line of a public service campaign has worked: nobody looks the same way at a stray backpack on the subway, and we just might call the cops.
Sadly, the same adage doesn't apply to young American men and women watching guys strip and violate a drunken (or sober) female.
By now, we've all absorbed the main lesson of Steubenville: the dehumanization of the female is so pervasive that young people will stand by and not just watch rape, but laugh at it, video it, tweet it, post it to Facebook, and try to cover their tracks when police investigate.
And yet, in just the last month, two more horrific events of the same type have hit the headlines. In Torrington, Conn., townspeople are supporting high school football jocks accused of statutory rape. And up in Canada, a high school girl committed suicide after her gang rape was videotaped.
Researchers believe group sexual assaults are on the rise, especially among young people.
What to do?
It's very popular right now to talk about bullying. But it is way past time to start talking about misogynist bullying as a separate category of abuse aimed at young girls, and as something that requires a separate cure.
Jackson Katz has been crusading around America for 20 years trying to change the way men respond to gender-based violence. His experiment, the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), aims to train bystanders to feel enough compassion for female victims to act, whether by intervening to discourage attacks, offering aid or calling the authorities.
Mr. Katz, the first male student to minor in women's studies at UMass Amherst in the 1980s, has made a career writing and speaking about gender violence. "In college, I saw women standing up for public safety out of fear of male violence," he told me, in an interview for the New York Observer. "I was a big football player, but I did see dysfunctional men all around me, really damaged human beings. When I saw women standing up for themselves, I related on a visceral level. As a male, I knew I was in a position to do something about this."
While a graduate student, Mr. Katz came up with the idea of training bystanders to prevent gender violence. In 1993, with federal funding, he started a pilot MVP program in the athletic department at Northeastern University. The program targeted male college athletes, and it has since been deployed at hundreds of colleges. The goal is to use peer pressure to transform men and boys who participate in gender-based violence and humiliation into the outliers and those who speak up into the norm, instead of the other way around.
The program works by training older students, juniors and seniors, to talk to younger peers, using an "MVP Playbook" of specific behaviors and scenarios, some of which are similar to the Steubenville incident. The scenarios have sporty names, the better to penetrate the teen male cortex. There's "the slapshot" (you see a friend of yours hitting a girlfriend) and the "illegal motion" (you see your buddy pushing a drunken girl out of a party, and she seems reluctant to leave). Students then discuss their reactions to these scenarios and examine their own behavioral options, from "It's none of my business" to offering aid.
So far, the program has been implemented at hundreds of colleges, among pro footballers, and in the U.S. Air Force and Navy, but in very few high schools. Steubenville High was not one of them.
Where it has been tested, high school administrators report some success. Between 2008 and 2011, Sioux City, Iowa, ran the program in three large public high schools. Over the course of the program, "positive trends" occurred with regard to 13 of the 18 abusive behaviors covered in the MVP Playbook, meaning students found those behaviors more wrong and were more willing to intervene after the program than they had been before.
The Violence Against Women Act--a federal law covering a wide range of gender violence issues, from domestic violence to rape--was reauthorized this year with a new provision mandating that high schools across the country provide bystander training.
Harvard law professor Diane Rosenfeld teaches the Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop and has been working for years to push the federal government to fund programs like MVP in schools. "It is definitely in a school's best interest to do as much on the prevention side as possible," she said, noting that the Steubenville event--sensational as it was--was hardly a one-off, but a growing phenomenon among students at high schools and colleges.
Group sex attacks against girls are statistically on the rise. For the last quarter-century, since numbers have been kept, sexual violence has also become more brutal, the age of perpetrators is dropping, and attacks by multiple perpetrators are up. According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics provided by University of Arizona Public health professor Mary P. Koss, the percentage of rapes involving two or more offenders went from 7 percent in 1994-1998 to 10 percent in 2005-2010.
Easier access to violent and dehumanizing Internet porn has coincided with the increases, and many observers believe the trends are related.
And it isn't just teenage boys who are complicit. Among the many disturbing aspects of the Steubenville case were the attitudes of the female bystanders, and the haters who took to Twitter to threaten the victim after the verdict.
Classical feminist theory has an explanation for that. In primate populations--our simian forebears--female solidarity keeps male aggression in check, and males do not form alliances to control females. The human species is alone among mammals in the degree to which male alliances subjugate females, and feminist scholars think that anomaly pre-existed and enabled patriarchal civilization. Once prehistoric human males gained the upper hand through a combination of alliances, controlling resources and, eventually, language and ideology, females found they could do better allying with males than with each other.
Et voila, the fully evolved Steubenville girl threatening to kill the rape victim.
"The numbers are telling us something," Mr. Katz said. "There has been a dramatic desensitization to women's humanity and sexual agency through media representations that have become completely mainstream. It is more accessible, and the porn itself has gotten way more brutal. There is no question that the level of open misogyny and brutality in our culture has grown as well."
High school and college leaders can be reluctant to institute gender violence training and programs because they fear that to do so will implicate them in the behavior. Penn State, for example, consistently declined to institute bystander training programs in the years prior to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Mr. Katz repeatedly offered Penn State the choice of opting into his MVP program, and the school declined.
"It's not just these boys in Steubenville, this is a systemic failure," said Mr. Katz. "When you hear there were all these people standing around--that's a failure of adults. We have known what to do for years. Why hasn't gender violence training become completely mainstream in high schools?"
Mr. Katz is one courageous feminist and we applaud him. Women and girls--for the sake of ourselves, our sisters and our daughters--can only hope that his program will someday soon spawn thousands like him.
Follow Nina Burleigh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ninaburleigh
Athletes can set example on domestic violence
By Andrew SkinnerLopata - Eugene Oregon Register Guard
Appeared in print: Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010
Athletes are role models and heroes. Kids grow up wanting to be the quarterback, the running back or place-kicker who makes the game-winning play; the guard that makes the clutch three-pointer; or the power forward that dunks over his opponent.
The effect of sports culture can be measured not only in the multibillion dollar sports market, but also in the attitudes and norms that children and adults learn from their sports heroes.
In the past month, no fewer than six University of Oregon football players have been suspected of or charged with various crimes, including two key players charged with crimes of violence against women.
The responses to these incidents by University of Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly and UO athletic director Mike Bellotti can be summarized as follows: If a player is a vital part of the team and is charged with a violent crime against a woman, there will be no “rush to judgment” and the player will face no disciplinary action.
If a player is not as vital to the team and does so much as publicly criticize the coach, he will be summarily suspended or dismissed.
Kelly admitted as much when explaining why he suspended Kiko Alonso for his drunken driving arrest but has not disciplined LaMichael James, who was charged with five violent crimes: “In every single case, I look at the case itself and make the best determination; it’s ‘What are we doing for the student-athlete,’ and ‘What am I doing to my team?’ ”
What message does this send?
First, that the athletes and the team are all that matters — there is no mention of how this all affects the school or the community, let alone the victims. Second, that male violence against women is acceptable. Third, the bigger star you are, the more you can get away with. Finally, that the athletes really make the rules and that the coaches just try to do damage control. Essentially the message is: We have done everything we can (“sit-downs” and “life-skills classes”), but, you know, boys will be boys.
In my law practice I often represent clients in abusive situations. I see the toll that domestic violence takes on women and their children. I want my children to grow up in a society where male violence against women is not legally, morally or socially acceptable.
As producers of heroes and role models, the UO athletic leadership needs to do more to see that players live the truth that violence against women is unacceptable. Beyond the obvious step of eliminating the disciplinary double standard (which others have already advocated), the athletic leadership needs to be more proactive.
On Feb. 3, before many of the headline-making incidents, Dr. Jackson Katz gave a presentation on the UO campus entitled “More Than a Few Good Men: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.” Katz discussed the program he co-founded, Mentors in Violence Prevention, which is the leading gender violence prevention initiative in professional and college athletics (see www.sportinsociety.org/mvp/ for more information). Although every UO coach was invited, not one attended.
Fortunately, it is not too late for the UO to show that it takes this issue seriously by making MVP training mandatory for every athlete. This program could be a large part of the solution to the off-field violent behavior of its football players.
Many will dismiss this program as sensitivity training that will not work if the athletes resist it. I have two answers to that: First, the program works. Here is one testimonial about its effectiveness:
“MVP staff have ‘hit a home run’ when it comes to delivering the message that violence against women is unacceptable. MVP presenters articulate their message in a way that many student-athletes have not heard, whether it be through reflexive thought or active participation, they have unequivocally gotten our student-athletes’ attention. At Michigan State University, we are confident that the MVP program has made a difference in the lives of our student-athletes” — Jim Pignataro, associate athletics director, MSU.
Second, nothing else seems to be working.
Should the athletic director and the football coach be judged and rewarded based solely on the football team’s on-field performance? Or should they be accountable for the broader effects the team has on the community and society? UO alumni, UO students, Ducks fans and the rest of our community should demand real leadership — leadership that makes it clear that violence against women is unacceptable.
Andrew SkinnerLopata, a University of Oregon School of Law graduate, practices family law in Eugene.
Bystanders No More:
Teaching Kids to Respond to Violent Crime
Johannah Cornblatt -
The picnic area at Richmond high, the scene of the alleged crime. PHOTO: Noah Berger / AP
Last Saturday night, according to police in Richmond, Calif., as many as two dozen teenagers watched the alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her school homecoming dance in Richmond, Calif., but no one did anything. Police have arrested six people in connection with the attack, which lasted two-and-a-half hours. The girl was found semiconscious under a bench only after an individual who overheard witnesses discussing the assault notified the police.
Experts in the prevention of sexual violence say that although this was an extreme and particularly horrific case, the fact that the witnesses failed to intervene isn’t too surprising. “They’re not anomalies,” says Dorothy Edwards, director of the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center at the University of Kentucky. “Everyone likes to think, ‘If I were there, I would’ve done something.’ But being passive is not atypical.”
That’s why a small but growing group of educators is trying to bring what’s called “bystander education” to American schools. While sexual-violence-prevention programs have typically focused on the victim (discouraging women from walking alone at night, for example) or the perpetrator (reiterating the fact that no means no), the bystander approach emphasizes the role witnesses can play in either supporting or challenging violence.
The MVP (Mentors in Violence Prevention) program, which was developed in 1993 at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sports in Society, tries to teach students how to stop violence when they see it. The MVP program involves a two-day training period for teachers, coaches, and administrators, who then return to their schools equipped to train their students. “Most people think they only have two choices for intervention,” says Jackson Katz, a cofounder of the program and an architect of the bystander approach. “One is to intervene physically right at the point of attack, and the other is to do nothing. And that’s a false set of choices.” As part of the MVP program, students sit in a classroom and talk about the menu of options—from getting a group of friends together to calling 911—available to them. At the heart of the program is a set of scenarios that allow students to imagine what they might do in a variety of situations. Each scenario comes with a list of viable interventions for bystanders.
Dozens of schools in a number of states are now implementing the MVP program, and similar initiatives are popping up across the country. The Green Dot program, launched at the University of Kentucky three years ago, has “spread like wildfire” to more than 20 states, according to Edwards. Green Dot encourages students to think of the “3Ds” (direct action, delegation, or distraction) when witnessing violence. While socially confident students might be able to address the problem directly, shy bystanders could make an anonymous phone call, send a text to a friend, or divert the perpetrator. “You can be just as effective by delegating," Edwards says.
For teenagers, who are often particularly concerned about social acceptance from their peers, Green Dot promotes distracting the perpetrator(s) as another option. One student who completed the Green Dot bystander training later prevented one of his friends from taking advantage of an intoxicated girl at a party by telling him that the police were towing his car outside, Edwards recalls. The friend, who had been in the process of persuading the girl to accompany him upstairs, stopped what he was doing and ran outside to check on his car. By the time he came back, the girl’s friends had taken her home. “Most people want to do the right thing,” Edwards says. “You can’t just say to teenagers that it shouldn’t have mattered if they were afraid to stand up in front of their friends—because it does matter. We need to give people a broader tool chest that takes into account their obstacles.”
Research is still needed to determine the effectiveness of bystander-awareness programs in schools, but the initial results are promising. One study found that after the Sioux City School District in Iowa implemented the MVP program, the number of freshman boys who said they could help prevent violence against women and girls increased by 50 percent. The number of ninth-grade boys who indicated that their peers would listen to them about respecting women and girls increased by 30 percent. The Centers for Disease Control recently gave $2 million to Green Dot as part of a long-term study to see if the bystander-education program does in fact diminish violence in high-school populations. The study will involve about 28,000 students in 26 Kentucky high schools. Half the schools will receive Green Dot training, and the other half will serve as a control group. The study’s hypothesis is that students who receive Green Dot training will show improved bystander skills, allowing them to recognize and reduce tolerance for violence among their peers.
Some experts in sexual-violence prevention think that more stringent bystander laws might make people think twice before walking away from the scene of a crime without so much as dialing 911. But Victoria Banyard, codirector of Bringing In the Bystander, a bystander-intervention program at the University of New Hampshire, says that parents and teachers should remember that “good” kids can become bystanders, too. So how can you prevent your kid from becoming a bystander? Banyard says that bystander awareness, in many cases, really needs to be taught. “We need to help people develop and practice the specific skills so that when they’re in the moment, they’re doing something positive to help,” she says.
Katz says we can’t wait for another incident like the alleged one in California to happen again before starting to think about preventing future crimes. “In the moment, a lot of the people freeze and don’t think creatively,” he says. “Educators and parents need to help our kids think critically about the different choices they have before the fact—not after the fact.”
Phils hear from group on violence prevention
March 26, 2007 | The Philadelphia Inquirer
by Jim Salisbury, Staff Writer
Men Responsible for violence
October 11, 2007 | Powell River Peak Online
British Columbia, Canada
Jackson Katz (shown here with B.C. Deputy Minister Sheila Wynn)
Jackson Katz has a message for men who say that violence against women isn't their problem.
©The Powell River Peak 2007
"It is your problem," the American educator, author and filmmaker told a group of 120 community leaders attending a breakfast meeting in Williams Lake, September 19.
Powell River anti-violence outreach worker Carrie Bisson has been a fan of Katz's work since she first heard about his approach five years ago. Under other circumstances, Bisson would have spent that week organizing the annual Take Back the Night event, but she decided that attending the conference was more important.
"I went there knowing that we need to include men in our work," she said. "He gave us the strategies on how to do that."
Katz was quick to point out that most men are not abusive, and they don't understand why he's trying to get them to change. "Most men will say 'I am a good guy. You don't need to be talking to me.'" But it's just these men that Katz does speak with.
During the past decade Katz has taken his mentors in violence prevention (MVP) program to college students, professional sports teams and the American military. A native of Boston and a former high school football player, his clients include the Boston Red Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays, as well as a number of National Football League teams.
He acknowledged that it's not always easy for men to speak up about abuse. "But leadership is stepping forward when no one else does," he said.
Historically, violence against women has been considered a women's issue that some men helped out with, Katz added. "That is old thinking. The issues of gender violence are men's issues first and foremost."
Katz was in Williams Lake to present a two-day conference for educators, social service workers and community leaders. The conference was funded by the province's ministry of community services as part of its violence prevention program. Deputy minister Sheila Wynn, who attended the conference, said that she has often felt frustrated during her 30 years of work on women's issues because there has been so little attention paid to the causes of violence. So when the ministry put out a call for community anti-violence proposals last year, they asked applicants to focus on men and boys. The Williams Lake conference was one of the successful applicants, said Wynn.
School principals have a particularly important role to play in ending male violence against females, said Katz. While male principals have historically delegated such work to female guidance counsellors, it is the school's leader who has the responsibility for stopping abuse, he said. Principals have the ear of the staff and the public platform to let boys know that abuse will not be tolerated, Katz added.
He addresses this subject further in his 2006 book, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, citing a high school lacrosse team member who videotaped himself having sex with a girl and then showed the video to his teammates. The principal sent a strong message to the students when he expelled the student and cancelled the lacrosse season, Katz said.
While much of his presentation focused on men, Katz also challenged the media for its passive language on gender violence. News accounts of gender-based violence rarely mention that the perpetrators are almost always male, he said. In fact, more than 90 per cent of violence against males and females is committed by males, according to Katz, yet the discussion often involves battered women rather than men who batter women.
In a province that has seen more than its share of highly publicized domestic murders in the past year, Katz's message was well-received by participants in the conference.
After attending both the training session and the breakfast event, Williams Lake RCMP Corporal Marc Menard said he will take the message back to his fellow officers in order to change the way they work with domestic violence cases.
"We have to find different ways of communicating with both the suspect and victim to get a more accurate account of what is going on," he said. His goal is to ensure that officers improve their reports to Crown counsel, increasing Crown's ability to determine when and which charges are most appropriate.
And Murray Hoffman, a counsellor at Columneetza High School in Williams Lake, with more than 25 years experience, said Katz's talk raised important issues for educators. Hoffman has long been talking to high school students about these issues.
"But the message needs to be directed more toward younger kids, starting at age eight, nine or 10," he said. "By the time a kid is 18 years old, we are going to have a lot more difficulty altering their behaviour."
Rachel Blount: Violence against women should be addressed before it occurs
A violence prevention program created by Jackson Katz has been used by more than 100 colleges and universities and pro teams.
July 24, 2007 | Minneapolis Star Tribune
by Rachel Blount
The scenario: At a party, you see a male friend trying to get an obviously drunk woman to leave with him. She's not just buzzed; she's stumbling over her own feet. You know the woman, and she seems reluctant.
What should you do?
That question is posed to male college athletes participating in the MVP (Mentors in Violence Prevention) program. Creator Jackson Katz, a Boston native living in Los Angeles, teaches that they can help prevent violence against women -- and challenge negative stereotypes about athletes -- by using their status to stand up, speak out and do the right thing. Or they could do what three Gophers football players are alleged to have done when faced with similar circumstances: Invite a teammate over and make a cell-phone video of him having sex with the incapacitated woman.
Once they knew of that evidence, university officials took the appropriate action by kicking all four players off the team. But if coach Tim Brewster, athletic director Joel Maturi and President Robert Bruininks are serious about addressing the problem of violence against women, they will intensify efforts to prevent it.
"We need to implement prevention programs proactively, not reactively," said Katz, whose MVP program has been used by more than 100 colleges and universities as well as NFL and major league baseball teams. "That's the way to go, instead of lurching from one tragedy to the next and scrambling to do PR cover."
Katz added: "There is no excuse for not doing it. If more student-athletes challenged other men on sexist, abusive behavior toward women, they would provide leadership on this huge problem."
There has been surprisingly little research on whether athletes commit more sexual assaults than nonathletes. The most widely cited study, by Todd Crosset and Jeff Benedict, examined 10 Division I schools over three years and found that athletes represented 3.3 percent of the student body but were accused of 19 percent of reported sexual assaults on campus.
That study is 12 years old and has been criticized for its small sample size. But the anecdotal evidence paints a troubling picture. In the past several months, two football players at the State University of New York at Albany pleaded guilty to raping a female student in their dorm room. Shortly after quitting the team, Purdue linebacker Kyle Williams was convicted of beating two women and trying to rape one, and he is charged with another beating and sex assault. Three football players at Hibbing Community College and a former teammate were charged with raping an 18-year-old girl.
Donna Dunn, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, hopes the criminal sexual conduct charges against Dominic Jones and the ongoing investigation of three teammates will prompt the U to clarify its policy on such incidents -- and encourage more public discussion on the causes, nature and prevention of sexual violence.
"I would love for this to be an opportunity for the public to become more engaged in solving this problem," Dunn said. "There is a lot of work to be done to educate people about the crime of sexual violence. So many people draw conclusions based on mythology. I hope this can be a wake-up call."
The mythology, Dunn said, includes the belief that most rape reports are false. In reality, statistics show only a 2 percent rate of bogus reports, the same as for other crimes. There also is the tendency to blame the victim. Dunn received an anonymous letter Monday asserting that the woman who made the complaint against the Gophers players should have known what she was getting into by going to a party and drinking.
The dismissal of the four players and the legal aftermath will not change all of those longstanding beliefs. But perhaps it can force serious scrutiny of the cultural factors involved in sexual assault. Katz and Dunn both noted that all young men, not just athletes, are growing up in a society that desensitizes them to abusive behavior and sends mixed messages about how they should treat women.
Some might believe it's funny or macho or OK to have sex with an unconscious woman and make a video of it. It's a crime, plain and simple. As the U cleans up the mess, it should focus just as intently on the message, reminding its athletes that true strength and power come from doing the right thing.
Rachel Blount • email@example.com
The world of violence
Professional wrestling not so much fun and fake, as frightening
June 29, 2007 | CBC News
by Georgie Blinks: Modern Living
No one should be surprised that a member of World Wrestling Entertainment took the lives of his family and then killed himself earlier this week. Given the violent world of professional wrestling it's actually a wonder it doesn't happen more often. I'm talking about professional wrestler Chris Benoit who killed his wife and son, then himself in the family's home outside Atlanta. Violence wasn't new to the Benoit family. His wife had requested a restraining order against her husband in 2003, accusing him of threatening her and breaking furniture in their home. The same year she filed for divorce saying the marriage had been marked by cruel treatment. Both actions were subsequently withdrawn.
The life and career of Chris Benoit took place against the backdrop of the violent world of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Despite assurances it's fun and fake, the message of violence is real and the reaction of fans is frightening.
Several years ago, documentary makers Sut Jhally, Ronit Ridberg and Jackson Katz tackled the world of the WWE in Wrestling with Manhood. Says Katz: "The level of overt misogyny in WWE is very disturbing. In the scripts themselves there are frequent storylines of men beating their wives and girlfriends. As announcers narrate this action, they say things like, 'She deserved it.' Audiences cheer rape and battering narratives."
Show of emotion mocked
Vince McMahon, chairman of the WWE board of directors, defends it as entertainment audiences crave and he's right. Thousands of fans show up every week, screaming with pleasure as wrestlers punch, stomp, or twist the limbs of an opponent. It's evident many define masculinity through the sport as well. For instance, American professional wrestler Kurt Angle's show of emotion after winning a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games (he burst into tears) has been a constant source of ridicule to him. It's frequently replayed at wrestling bouts to humiliate him.
It's a violent world for wrestlers in and out of the ring. Says Katz, "Benoit is not the first professional wrestler to perpetrate violence against his wife and family or have been alleged to. There's an ugly history here." Take Stone Cold Steve Austin — charged with misdemeanour assault on his wife and fellow WWE star Debra; Ric Flair — charged in connection with a road rage incident in 2005 (charges were dropped when witnesses failed to show up in court); and just this month, announcer Jerry (The King) Lawler — charged with assaulting manager Sal Corrente. He told a Memphis television station, "Sometimes it's part of the business. Guys get hit hard. They get teeth knocked out. It just happens and you show up for work the next day. You don’t go have somebody arrested."
The violent world of wrestling becomes even more complicated for those who use steroids. While anabolic steroids were found in the home of Benoit, his last test for them in April came up negative. The WWE denies steroids were related to the incident. Health sciences assistant professor Ken Kirkwood at the University of Western Ontario says their use can result in what is known as "roid rage. A high incidence of people who take steroids report really violent mood swings. They go from being depressed to extraordinarily sexually aroused to angry."
Culture 'glamorizes' misogyny
While steroids may have that effect, Katz feels the media has been concentrating too much on their use to the detriment of other issues. "The issue is not steroids. That's how people avoid talking about the issues like what this guy's life has been about and what role has the WWE played in it, as well as the level of misogyny openly expressed by the WWE. We're supposed to think there's no connection? Here’s a culture that glamorizes and glorifies it."
So if your work involves beating up men and women, and the audience is screaming for blood, how do you not take that home at the end of the day? Says Kirkwood: “Some of these guys have pretty dysfunctional relationships. Anyone who takes on characters — like actors, for example — can have problems if they don't really work at maintaining boundaries between who they are and the character they're portraying. If you display violent behaviour and you're cheered on for it, I'm sure it must be detrimental to your mental health and your personality. You would actually have to work against it."
Katz says it's time people took the world of wrestling entertainment more seriously. "Wrestling plays an important role in our culture and to dismiss it as just a bunch of steroid-infused brutes prancing around on stage isn't the right way to go. Millions of boys and young men are learning messages about manhood and womanhood as well as what is acceptable behaviour and they are finding these role models in a sick way in professional wrestling."
In fact one study shows a connection. Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina found a significant correlation between the frequency of watching wrestling on television and engaging in date fighting. "Of particular concern," it noted, "is the degree women are victims of severe violence from both men and women and that the use of violence against women (usually non-wrestlers) by men is justified as morally acceptable."
Benoit worked in the world of violent entertainment using his hands to make a living. Sadly, that is how he ended the lives of himself and his family. It seems so common for people to kill each other with weapons that news organizations noted the deaths had been caused in an "unusual" manner. Says Kirkwood: “If you're that physically capable, you carry out an attack in this manner. You don't bother with a gun — you're a weapon yourself."
Perhaps it's time to take a closer look at the kinds of "weapons" the WWE is creating and the "entertainment" it's promoting. Because sometimes what happens in real life isn't fake or funny.
Violence is a Men's Issue
Activist Jackson Katz blames culture for violence against women
Printed May 23, 2007 | Pensacola News Journal
by Rebecca Ross
Jackson Katz believes it's time to stop calling domestic violence "a women's issue."
The educator, author, filmmaker and activist has spent years speaking out on the issue of gender violence, an issue he feels is firmly rooted in America's culture.
"There isn't violence against women because of some genetic abnormality in men; it is our culture. It is learned behavior," said Katz, who wrote the 2006 book, "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help."
Katz will be in Pensacola next week as guest speaker at the FavorHouse of Northwest Florida's White Rose Luncheon in honor of survivors of domestic violence taking place May 30. He will also present training seminars to local groups.
He spoke recently with the News Journal about the pervasive issue of violence against women, its causes and solutions:
Q: How did you become one of America's "leading anti-sexist male activists"?
A: There was no precipitating incident or person in my life as much as it was a process in my first couple of years of college, inside and outside of the classroom, when I began to hear women's stories about their lives, and the pervasiveness of men's violence in women's lives. I heard about sexism, domestic violence, harassment, and as a man, I clearly saw myself in a position to do something about this, so I became an activist.
Q: How has the definition of a "man" changed from when you were growing up?
A: It's complicated. The simple way of putting it is that the modern multicultural women's movement was transformative in both women's and men's lives. There has been a lot of big changes. The role fathers play in the lives of their sons and daughters is dramatically different. There is variability across ethnic and socio-economic lines, but in general, fathers are a lot more emotionally present than they were in my generation. There have been huge shifts, very rapidly, in the gender order and the social norms around masculinity and femininity. We're still dealing with them.
Q: Why does there seem to be a negative, almost threatened, response from some men toward men who speak out against sexism or domestic violence?
A: Revealing, isn't it? If a man is secure in his sense of himself, why be threatened with dealing honestly with the facts? Men are committing an incredible level of violence against women, girls, men and boys. It's a fact that 1 in 4 women on a college campus will be raped. When I see these statistics, I'm not defensive. I say, "This is messed up." Some men are threatened by facing these issues because to deal with it, you have to get to the heart of what it means to be a man in our culture.
Q: A lot has been written about Americans, women and men, living in a culture of violence and fear. Is life today more dangerous?
A: A culture of fear is born of a fear of violence, usually men's violence. This is a global issue, but the U.S. is by far the most violent wealthy, developed country. Our rates of violence are off the charts, in comparative terms, but I don't think people are more violent today than they were a century ago. What we do have is access to incredibly destructive weaponry. And statistically, people, especially women, are reporting violent crimes far more than they would have in the past.
Q: Why has domestic violence been seen as a women's issue for so long?
A: Because it is women speaking out about it. Historically, if women are complaining about an issue, it is seen as their problem. In our culture, we tend to focus on victims and survivors, instead of the perpetrators.
Q: You often give seminars to young people. How important is early intervention or education in stopping violence?
A: It is critically important. The changing definition of manhood is one reason why we have so many men abusing women. It's not genetic or biological. These are boys or men who have learned somewhere that part of being a man is having control over women, being dominant or sexually entitled. Where do they learn this? Some from their families, but it's a bit of a myth that men who grew up watching their fathers abuse their mothers will become abusers. Most abusive men did not grow up in abusive homes, so violence is learned elsewhere.
Q: How do you get your message of non-violence across to young people?
A: The way to work with kids and young people is to work with adults. For example, when people ask me if I had the power to enact prevention strategies on a college campus, they often think I'll say something about getting to the new students at orientation. That's all good, but the first thing I'd do would be to get together all the most powerful men on campus -- the president, dean of students, what have you, and have training for them. Same with high schools. If the male authority figure sets a tone that violence is not acceptable, a change in behavior will take place very quickly.
Q: So it's a "from the top down" effect?
A: Yes. Kids are highly impressionable. They may be resistant to some forms of authority, but they want to be respected, they want to get the support of their peers, and they want for adults to approve of them. Adult men in a position of authority have to get involved with young men and boys in order to teach them that violence against women is completely unacceptable.
Hurt's Documentary Puts Hip-Hop on Hot Seat
May 1, 2007 | Women's eNews | http://www.womensenews.org
By Juhie Bhatia
(WOMENSENEWS)--Byron Hurt wants to make one thing very clear: He loves
But the activist filmmaker has been questioning the music's depiction
of women for more than a decade, long before Don Imus' slur of black
female college basketball stars set off a national debate on the
language that some rappers use.
For years Hurt raised questions about the treatment of women as an
educator with a program about gender violence aimed at male college
These days he has shifted his focus to hip-hop's portrayal of women and
has a film that does much of the talking and questioning for him.
"Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" explores manhood, sexism, violence
and homophobia in hip-hop culture. It premiered at the Sundance film
festival in 2006, has been shown at more than 30 international
festivals and had its U.S. debut on PBS in February.
Currently, the film is being shown at colleges across the country,
conferences, grassroots events and community programs. In May, the film
will screen at a Swiss television conference and the Ford Foundation
has launched a two-year initiative to screen it on historically black
college campuses. Since the Imus controversy, Hurt said he has also
received increased requests for media interviews and screenings.
The film is often accompanied with panel discussions or
question-and-answer sessions that Hurt tries to attend. There are also
resources available to go along with the film such as a classroom
curriculum for high school and college students that emphasizes media
literacy and spurs students to think about hip-hop culture and
The documentary is also being used as an education tool in the
classroom. Gail Dines, for instance, a professor of sociology and
women's studies and chair of American Studies at Wheelock College in
Boston, shows the film in her courses on the sociology of race, women's
studies and media.
"My students are the MTV generation, so they don't respond to print,"
said Dines. "They respond to images. That's why this film is so
powerful. It uses hip-hop images to deconstruct hip-hop. It's rare that
a documentary is a good teaching tool. Byron is an example of the work
filmmakers can do if they are political and have courage."
'Getting Men to Speak Out'
"Byron has been out there for 14 years doing anti-sexism work," said
Jackson Katz, author of the 2006 book, "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men
Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help," and an educator and advocate who
works on violence prevention programs with men and boys. "'Beyond Beats
and Rhymes' takes that work to a new audience and medium, but it's the
same activism. It's getting men to speak out about men's violence
Hurt first began working on the film one afternoon in 2000, when he was
watching Black Entertainment Television. One music video after another,
he noticed, showed rappers posing and throwing money at the camera,
with women dancing around them.
"I saw how formulaic, hypersexual, hyper-aggressive and materialistic
the images were," said Hurt, who lives in Plainfield, N.J. "I thought
to myself it's time to make a film. I pulled out a piece of paper and
started writing a proposal."
In the film Hurt interviews well-known rappers and hip-hop moguls about
masculinity and sexism and pays tribute to hip-hop, while questioning
its representation of manhood and women.
"This film is Byron's autobiographical story," said Katz, who is also
the co-founder of the gender-violence awareness program where Hurt
began probing some of the issues raised in the film. "By Byron putting
himself on camera and talking about his own journey, he puts a human
face on a cultural critique of hip-hop and allows men--especially men
of color--to go through that journey vicariously through him."
Hip-Hop Before Football
Hurt fell in love with hip-hip as a boy. Later, as a student at
Northeastern University in Boston, where he studied radio and
television journalism and was also a star quarterback, he listened to
hip-hop before his football games to get psyched up. He never
questioned the lyrics.
After he graduated in 1993 an athletic advisor recommended him as an
educator for the violence prevention program that Katz co-founded,
called Mentors in Violence Prevention, which is considered the leading
prevention initiative used in professional and college athletic
"I was reluctant to take the job," said Hurt. "I didn't know any other
guys who spoke out about violence against women. I was concerned about
how my male friends would view me. Now when I look back it seems so
silly, but at the time it was really important."
But Katz invited Hurt to a workshop and during the training he asked
the men what they did to prevent being raped and sexually assaulted.
The answer came back: nothing.
When Katz asked the women the same question, though, they came up with
a list of safeguards: everything from the buddy system to not jogging
alone at night. Hurt had no idea that women took such active
precautions as a matter of routine. He realized he could learn a lot
from the job.
Hurt became a mentor training specialist, educating male athletes about
violence against women. He started conducting workshops at college
campuses in New England and eventually conducted them nationally and
within the Marine Corps. He worked with Mentors in Violence Prevention
Masculinity Explored on Film
Hurt also continued making documentaries. He produced his first film as
a senior in college. Called "Moving Memories: The Black Senior Video
Yearbook," it is about the trials and tribulations of being a black
college student on a predominantly white campus in New England. Then he
made "I Am a Man: Black Masculinity in America" in 1994, which looks at
how issues of masculinity play out in society and the differences among
In his latest film one of the topics Hurt explores is how major
corporations have narrowed hip-hop's portrayal of black manhood.
"Hip-hop has always been hyper-aggressive, homophobic and sexist, but
there was more diversity before," said Hurt. "In mainstream hip-hop
right now there's a more narrow vision of masculinity and manhood than
in 1989 when hip-hop wasn't mainstream."
Mainstream hip-hop doesn't have to be so limited, though, as can be
seen with the song "Classic" by Kanye West, Nas, KRS1 and Rakim, added
Hurt, who describes the song as a demonstration of "pure" musical skill.
The filmmaker said that rap stars have a responsibility to expand the
vision of masculinity by singing about topics other than drugs and
violence--but consumers must also be critical of the music they
The problem, he added, is much bigger than hip-hop culture though. "How
can you fight something as big as sexism, patriarchy and
hyper-aggression? Boys and men all over the country--whether they
listen to hip-hop or not--are indoctrinated. We need a broader
education of boys and men that allows them to express the full range of
For more information:
Byron Hurt: - http://www.bhurt.com/
The Independent Television Service (ITVS) Resources: -
Jackson Katz: - http://www.jacksonkatz.com
Copyright 2006 Women's eNews
Men denounce violence, sexism
‘We need to say it’s a men’s issue,’ audience hears
Printed March 17, 2007 | Calgary Herald
by Shannon Woodward
It was a breakfast for the guys — an event to challenge them to speak out against the violence and sexism that face women every day.
More than 200 men and women gathered at the Telus Convention Centre on Friday morning to express their concern for violence against women.
Keynote speaker Jackson Katz was preceded by Calgary icon and ex-Flame Lanny McDonald, who voiced his concern about domestic violence. Indian Affairs and Northern Development Minister Jim Prentice also conveyed his distress at the treatment of aboriginal women.
But the message all speakers conveyed was one of awareness. Each speaker pleaded with the audience to understand that domestic violence and violence against women are not simply women’s issues — they’re men’s issues, as well.
“I think the very act of calling them women’s issues is part of the problem,” said Katz, an author and filmmaker considered one of North America’s leading anti-sexist male activists.
“I’m suggesting that we need to say it’s a men’s problem. We need to say it’s a men’s issue,” he said.
“We need a whole lot more men involved and we need a paradigm shift in our thinking.”
Katz asked men to start speaking to other men in their communities. He requested men take on a leadership role and take a stand against gender based violence.
“It takes guts for men to start speaking out and challenging other men’s sexism and challenging other men’s attitudes and entitlements to women’s bodies and other forms of male power and privilege,” he said. “It takes guts and strength and self confidence and a lot of men would rather not go there.”
Prentice was also determined to turn the matter into an equality issue.
“At the end of the day, it really is about men exercising the leadership to talk about this and to say ‘It’s not acceptable,
My Turn: Domestic violence: A men's problem
Printed November 5, 2006 | Burlington Free Press
By Mark Redmond
The brutal murder of UVM student Michelle Gardner-Quinn is understandably the main topic of conversation among so many of us here in Vermont. This line of discussion inevitably leads to a conversation about the need for women to safeguard themselves even more diligently than they have. To never walk alone in town. To keep with the group. To always keep their cell phones charged. Essentially, to live in fear.
What is rarely discussed is what the batterer's intervention specialists here at Spectrum term The Elephant in the Room, that elephant being: Why are so many men in this country targeting, attacking and killing women?
New York Times columnist Bob Herbert makes this very point in a much-e-mailed piece he wrote on Oct. 16 titled "Why Aren't We Shocked?" He points to the recent killing of a female public high school student by an adult male in Colorado, and then the Amish schoolhouse slaughter in Pennsylvania. In both incidents, Herbert notes that the male perpetrator separated the males from the females, and then deliberately attacked only the latter. "In the widespread coverage that followed these crimes, very little was made of the fact that only girls were targeted," he writes, calling each "a hate crime."
Jackson Katz, author of the book "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help," makes the same point in an Oct. 11 article: "Once again we see that as a society we seem constitutionally unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge a simple but disturbing fact: These shootings are an extreme manifestation of one of contemporary American society's biggest problems -- the ongoing crisis of men's violence against women."
It is hard to disagree with these two writers. Women are under siege in this country, and Vermont is no exception. In 2005 the advocates at Vermont's Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence programs responded to 14,964 hot-line calls. From 1994 to 2005 there were 73 domestic-violence fatalities in Vermont, and 84 percent of the perpetrators were male. But instead of asking, "Why are so many men making these choices?" the focus is on, "How can women better protect themselves?"
I am not saying we should not address the latter, and in fact the advice I offer my wife, the women I work with and the female youths at Spectrum is to do everything they can to maintain their personal safety. But as a society we are woefully neglectful in coming to terms with the fact that this is first and foremost a male problem, perpetuated by men, and men have to take responsibility for it.
Herbert points to gangsta rap, video games in which points are earned for molesting and killing women, Academy-Award winning songs like "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," and the booming business of Internet pornography, all of which result in "the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous treatment of women (which) is so pervasive and so mainstream." I think he is completely on target, and I would add to that mix World Wrestling Entertainment, a highly misogynistic and offensive-to-women performance that takes place right here in Burlington every year in Memorial Auditorium, a facility owned by we the people.
Until we look at these things, and begin to grasp that violence against women is a men's issue, we will only be waiting for the next tragedy to occur, whether in an Amish schoolhouse or on Main Street in Burlington.
Mark Redmond is executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington.
Wanted: A few good men,
Raising awareness about men’s violence
Posted October 27, 2006 | Special to the Vermont Guardian
By Christian Avard
BURLINGTON — Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming to an end, but 2006 will be remembered as tragic one.
In January, Frankie Niles was charged with murdering his girlfriend Tina Fontaine of Albany after he overheard her on the phone telling a friend she was about to dump him.
In August, Christopher Williams allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend’s mother Linda Lambesis of Essex after his former girlfriend — Andrea Lambesis — ended a stormy relationship. According to police, Williams tracked Andrea down to the elementary school where she worked, allegedly killing her co-worker Alicia Shanks and wounding another, Mary Snedeker. After an altercation with his friend Chad Johansen, Williams allegedly shot Johansen and was arrested by Essex police when he apparently tried, and failed, to kill himself.
And recently, a University of Vermont student named Michelle Gardner-Quinn was walking home after a night out with friends. Five days later, her body was found alongside a road in Richmond. The last man seen with her was Brian Rooney, a man with a long history of sex offense charges. He is now being held without bail at Northeast Regional Correctional Facility in St. Johnsbury on un-related sex charges and has not been charged in Gardner-Quinn’s death, but remains a prime suspect in the murder, according to police.
While communities are coming together to discuss the tragedy, much of it has focused on how women can keep themselves safe. While safety on college campuses is important, a critical element has been left out, say some experts, and that’s gender violence.
From 1974 to 2004, 76.5 percent of homicide victims and 88.7 percent of offenders were men according to Bureau of Justice Statistics. Although there were no domestic violence-related homicides in Vermont in 2005, state statistics indicate that 9 out of 10 murders and 233 out of 243 forcible sex offenses were committed by men in 2005.
In a recent Common Dreams website article, “Coverage of ‘School Shooting’ Avoids the Central Issue,” anti-violence educator Jackson Katz said a recent forum held by Pres. George W. Bush, which brought together experts specializing in education and law enforcement to discuss “the nature” of the shootings in Colorado and Pennsylvania, missed the point.
“Incredibily, few if any prominent voices in the media have called the incidents what they are: hate crimes perpetrated by men against defenseless young girls, who were targeted for sexual assault and murder precisely because they are girls. For us to have any hope of truly preventing not only extreme acts of gender violence … we need to have this conversation,” aruged Katz.
In Vermont some men are rising to the occasion.
“I think a very important perspective is recognizing that violence is a gendered phenomenon, that really we need to talk about it not as school violence, not as domestic violence, and not sexual violence, but to really understand how it’s all different components of male violence,” said Mark Larson, a batterer accountability coordinator for the Domestic Abuse Education Project based out of Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington.
“What is really consistent in all these cases is the shooter is a young boy and for some reason we get all hung up on trying to figure out what’s the common factor with victims and we absolutely ignore the crystal clear reality: With very few exceptions, the shooters are boys.”
Others like Mark Montalban, of the Lake Champlain Men’s Resource Center, believe holding men accountable for their behavior is another positive first step.
“‘Compassionate confrontation’ is where there’s an understanding that men are conditioned and socialized in a certain way … and how to bring up that certain things aren’t OK — behaviors, actions, words that damage other people,” said Montalban. “I think that fathers have to confront their sons and vice versa because this has a lot to do with male-to-male relationships and it opens things up because it allows men to have less pressure trying to prove their masculinity is being challenged.”
In Vermont — and across the country — batterers’ intervention is a primary tool facilitating change and debunking the myths about women and masculinity.
“A lot of men first need to accept that men perpetrate the vast majority of violence against women and others. In the work that I do, a lot of men want to believe that women are just as equally violent. In shootings, 95 percent of the most violent forms of aggression are committed against women and 75 percent against other men; in general, men have significant responsibility to look at this violence honestly and stop it and one of the things we do in these groups is to talk about it,” said Bill Pelz-Walsh, coordinator of the Batterers Intervention Program in Brattleboro. “The issue is a gender issue, this is about violence and the extreme forms, why are men still getting away with acts of violence, and why is it that men continue to use power and domination against women and other men.”
Although there is a long way to go, there has been progress. There were no strong domestic violence laws 20 to 30 years ago. Local and state police now have the skills to respond to domestic and sexual violence crimes. And most of all, a national discussion is taking root. But for Larson, the best place to start is with a simple act of courage.
“We’re not talking about moving a mountain but every person can move a portion of that mountain. It makes a significant difference to say, ‘Hey I’m not comfortable with that.’ It’s not that hard to do, no four hours a week and no money involved. Just a little bit of courage that in the end is certainly an investment worth making.”
To learn more about men’s violence, contact the Lake Champlain Men’s Resource Center at 434-8180, or Spectrum Youth & Family Services at 864-7423.
Men can help women end domestic violence
Published: October 26th, 2006 | Northwest Guardian, Ft. Lewis, Washington
Men could help stop domestic violence and create safer homes and communities by having the courage to intervene and hold other men accountable for unacceptable sexist remarks or gestures.
By Barbara L. Sellers
That was the main message guest speaker Jackson Katz presented during the second annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month training, Oct. 18 at the American Lake Community Center.
Lt. Gen. Jim M. Dubik, commanding general of I Corps, and his wife, Sharon Basso, gave the opening remarks.
Dubik talked about how everyone cares about one another in the community, how leaders in the Army have a greater responsibility for the people they work with and how lucky we are to have a set of highly skilled and dedicated leaders, spouses and civilians at Fort Lewis.
“(Yet,) domestic violence and sexual assault is a big problem in this community,” Basso said. “Fort Lewis has 30 to 35 domestic violence cases each month.”
Sometimes the problems are hidden, and even when people do know about them, they often choose not to get involved because doing so makes them feel uncomfortable. But everyone must be willing to get involved, because domestic violence affects not only the community but also Soldiers, she said.
“This is a heavy subject,” said Katz, recognized for his groundbreaking work in gender violence prevention education with men and boys, particularly in the sports culture and the military. He also wrote a book called “The Macho Paradox …Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.”
Although Katz said he knows some women assault men, he focuses on preventing men from assaulting women because that’s a much greater problem in this country. One in four women in college will be the victims of rape or attempted rape, and men are the perpetrators of 99 percent of them, he said.
The recent incident where five Amish girls (ages 6 to 13) were shot and killed was a gender crime and hate crime, but people in the media failed to call it that because people don’t want to talk about that, Katz said.
“Historically, crimes against women are identified as a woman’s problem, and that’s why women have always been at the forefront working to prevent it, but more men need to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.’” Katz said. “We need a shift in this culture to start thinking differently about this. We need to stop blaming the female victims and look at the men who did it to them.”
When people say, “Domestic violence is not just a woman’s problem; it’s everyone’s problem,” that’s just another way to avoid saying it’s also a man’s problem, he said.
“Putting the focus on what women should or should not do to protect themselves is not prevention – it’s risk reduction,” Katz said. “It does not stop domestic violence. Men and boys will just find another target for their abuse.”
Most men in our society say, “This isn’t my problem because I am a good guy. I don’t rape women and I don’t beat my wife.”
“But we need a lot more from men who call themselves good guys,” Katz said. “We need more good guys to stand up for women. We need to create a society where a sexist remark or behavior is not acceptable in the male peer culture.”
Men who have a mother, sister or daughter who has been sexually assaulted or beaten by other men seldom talk about it, he said.
“But if we can make it personal, then I believe more men will start taking a stand,” Katz said. “We could reduce domestic violence dramatically if we can develop this peer pressure. The majority of domestic violence is preventable because most violence is learned behavior, but it takes courage for a man to say something to another man.”
Katz also talked about the things men say to silence women, the negative affect domestic violence has on children, and he showed a film called “Tough Guise”
Following his presentation, a panel of advocates and key Fort Lewis personnel who work with domestic violence cases responded to a domestic violence scenario to demonstrate how complicated various situations can be.
In the afternoon, the training participants had the opportunity to attend two of eight different workshops that were offered.
“Whenever this kind of stuff goes on, it takes away the combat readiness in the Army because then the focus is on the victims rather than on training Soldiers,” said workshop participant Capt. Marc Welde, 551st Medical Company (Logistics). “That’s why I came here to learn how to prevent domestic violence from happening. Now I plan to go back to my unit and spread the word.”
Violence against women is all of our concern
Vermont Guardian | Editorial | October 20, 2006
The death of Michelle Gardner-Quinn reminds all of us that Vermont is not an island separated from the rest of the world.
Following on the heels of the recent school shootings, where men were the perpetrators and young women the victims, is there something deeper at work here that needs to be addressed?
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so it may be time to reflect on what role men play in this equation of violence toward women, and what role our society, as a whole, plays in the way women are depicted as objects.
This distorted view of women, much more so than access to handguns or a lack of security measures at schools, is the real culprit at work.
In Colorado, an armed man walked into a high school, forced the male students to leave and then took the young women hostage, killing one and allegedly assaulting others before killing himself. A week later, another armed man walked into an Amish schoolhouse and forced everyone out but several girls. He tied their feet together, and then killed five of the girls before he took his own life.
In response, the White House convened a special forum with experts in education and law enforcement to discuss the “nature of the problem.”
As noted by Jackson Katz in a recent commentary on the website CommonDreams.org:
“This approach is misdirected. Instead of convening a group of experts on ‘school safety,’ the president should catalyze a long-overdue national conversation about sexism, masculinity, and men’s violence against women,” argues Katz, author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help.
“What is it going to take for our society to deal honestly with the extent and depth of this problem? How many more young girls have to die before decision-makers in media and other influential institutions stop averting their eyes from the lethal mix of deep misogyny and violent masculinity at work here?” he adds.
He’s right: How many more young girls will have to die before men begin to engage the question and embrace solutions?
Katz recalls that in 1991 after a shooting in Montreal in which a disgruntled, unemployed man shot and killed 14 women engineering students, a number of men in Canada created a White Ribbon campaign. The campaign’s idea was for men to pledge, “never to commit, condone, nor remain silent about violence against women.”
This is an important statement, and first step, but by no means a solution. Still, perhaps it is time for such a campaign to take root in the United States, and what a better place for it to start than right here in Vermont.
Leading anti-sexist male activist challenges guys to man up
October 18, 2006 | Toledo City Paper
by Rieale Loveridge
America remains a land ripe with stereotypical masculine pleasures – Maxim magazine subscriptions, Hooters restaurants and adult bookstores nestled amongst burger joints. Some consider these bastions of testosterone as harmless, but to author/speaker Jackson Katz, they fuel a culture embracing gender violence.
Appearing at the University of Toledo on Mon., Oct 23, Katz, author of "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help" discusses male cultural identity and challenges the audience to break the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality.
Katz, a man at ease conversing with Oprah Winfrey or New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, has been paving a path to thwart violence for over 15 years. As a three-sport athlete in high school and all-star football player, Katz’s interest in contemporary social movements, which lead to a minor’s in women’s studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst, doesn’t seem consistent with his sporty past. However, Katz’s foothold in football and feminism has lead to an emerging mode gender studies and violence prevention.
His theories have been presented in numerous articles, American Library Association award-winning educational videos and through his Mentors Violence Prevention program and MVP Strategies, which provide gender violence prevention and education programs are lending new perspective on a pervasive pandemic. "Historically, sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment have been considered women’s issues that good guys sometimes help out with," Katz said. "These are men’s issues as well, and men need to address them."
Katz’ book "The Macho Paradox" serves as a billboard to this blossoming movement. In the chapters, "Guilty Pleasures: Pornography, Prostitution, and Stripping" and "It Takes a Village to Rape a Woman," Katz illuminates how cultural influences and skewed views of sexuality are molding male attitudes toward women, ultimately allowing for a mental disconnect instead of self-examination. "When you make the men who are abusive into monsters, monsters who crawl out of the slime, evil, grotesque, socio-pathological, that’s very comforting to think about like that because then they aren’t like us," Katz said. "Then you don’t have to look in the mirror."
Coinciding with Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the recent gender crimes in Colorado and Pennsylvania schools, Katz’s appearance aims to promote reflection and action. Katz is calling for all men — especially those with leadership roles in religious, academic, corporate, military and athletic organizations — to actively participate in mentorship and breaking the silence in daily interactions. "We need to raise the bar higher for what it means to be a good guy in our society," Katz said. "Just saying, ‘I’m not a rapist. I don’t beat my girlfriend’ is not particularly impressive to me."
"It Takes a Village…Workshop with Jackson Katz" will be held on Mon, Oct. 23 from 2-4 p.m. at UT’s College of Law Auditorium. "An Evening with Jackson Katz," will follow at 7 p.m. inside Doermann Theatre, UT. Both events free. Call 419-530-2712 or visit www.utoledo.edu/news/speakers.htm or www.jacksonkatz.com for more info.
Manliness too closely linked to violence, police chief says
London Free Press
By IAN GILLESPIE
October 6, 2006
Be a man. Three simple words. One short phrase. And a dizzying array of interpretations.
London police Chief Murray Faulkner uttered the words Wednesday while speaking at a news conference to launch the Mayor's Task Force to End Woman Abuse.
"We need to have some frank conversations about what it is to be a man," Faulkner told the crowd.
Be a man.
I heard the words when I was a boy. I heard them from my father, my teachers and my coaches. They were good men who wanted the best for me.
But apart from those words, there wasn't much said. Things were understood.
And what was understood -- or at least, what I grasped -- was that being a man meant being tough. It meant being strong. It meant not revealing your fears, your failures or your shortcomings.
Faulkner suggests that message is getting distorted. And it's leading us to trouble.
"You go out to a high school and ask, 'What's a real man?'" he says. "They're going to talk about strength and respect, they're going to talk about power -- all those things that have a connection to a degree of violence."
Faulkner rhymes off a slew of statistics: In Ontario, 94 per cent of all domestic homicides have female victims and male perpetrators; in the U.S. (and Faulkner says Canadian numbers are comparable) 85 per cent of individuals who commit homicides are males; 90 per cent of individuals who commit assaults are males; 95 per cent of individuals who commit serious domestic violence are males; 95 per cent of individuals committing crimes connected to road rage are males.
"We, as a gender, are very violent," says Faulkner. "And are becoming more and more violent."
Some would dispute that. Statistics Canada says that, except for an increase in 2003, the crime rate has generally been falling since 1991.
StatsCan's figures suggest the same trend holds true for the rate of violent crime, which in 2004 was 10 per cent lower than a decade earlier -- but 35 per cent higher than 20 years ago.
Still, violence exists. And no one can fault the fight against it.
Faulkner's final statistic is telling: 74 per cent of assault victims, in general, are males themselves.
"So if we, as men, could get our heads around our acts of violence, the greatest benefit will be males ourselves," he says. "We won't get assaulted by other males as much."
Faulkner's words are sure to upset some. But when it comes to violence -- and not just violence against women -- the police chief's message is simple.
"It's us guys," he says. "The problem here is men. The problem here is we have a crisis in what it is to be masculine."
Faulkner, who acknowledges the work of American author Jackson Katz in shaping some of his views, suggests we take a close look at our cultural symbols of manliness.
In the 1942 film Casablanca, for instance, tough guy Humphrey Bogart carried a small handgun. Compare that with the big-barrelled .44 magnum wielded by Clint Eastwood in the 1971 movie Dirty Harry and then the chiselled, weapon-wrapped body of Sylvester Stallone's Rambo and then Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator series, which transformed the
concept of a man with a weapon into a virtual high-tech killing machine.
"Take a look at what you thought was a physically fit person when you were in high school, compared to what those people look like nowadays with their super muscular builds," Faulkner says. "All that stuff is about power -- not just health. It exudes control."
Power. Control. Dominance.
Somehow, Faulkner suggests, these notions of manliness are twisting us into trouble.
"Maybe it's an old idea," he says. "But to me, being a man is to be the protector of women and children . . . not the abuser of them."
Of course, most men aren't violent. But it's this peaceful majority, says Faulkner, who holds the key to curbing violence everywhere.
"The vast majority of us, who are not involved in these violent acts, need to stand up to these other guys and say, 'Listen, this isn't what a man's about.' Don't remain silent. That's the worst thing to do."
Mentors in Violence Prevention co-founder to visit
By Staff Sgt. Don Branum,
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
August 22, 2006
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- For men who think sexual assault is a "not-me" issue, a co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program has an answer: if you are a son, a father or a husband, sexual assault is your problem, too.
Jackson Katz will bring that message to Schriever Sept. 6 during a discussion of what men can do to change today's peer culture.
"A lot of men come into the discussion defensively, with their arms folded--or they'll say, 'This isn't my problem; why should I have to sit through this,'" Mr. Katz said. "Most men have mothers, daughters or wives who have to live in fear of sexual assault. We talk about professional responsibilities, but it's more important to talk about our personal responsibilities as husbands, fathers, brothers and sons.
"Our focus is on men not as perpetrators or potential perpetrators but as bystanders," he added. "We don't come in, point fingers and accuse people of being violent. We come in with a more positive challenge: if they remain silent in the face of abusive behavior, their silence is complicit consent of that abusive behavior."
Mr. Katz worked with the Department of Defense's Task Force on Domestic Violence from 2000 to 2003 and was a subject matter expert for the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response curriculum. His presentation challenges everyone, especially men, to actively challenge and confront violent behavior--because while a majority of men will never commit sexual assault or domestic violence, many may know someone else who has.
His objective is to eliminate the climate that accommodates, or at least tolerates, gender violence. The culture change will begin when men and women stop accepting the status quo of gender violence in American society, he said.
"If you can change the peer culture, you will prevent most cases of gender abuse," he said.
Mr. Katz acknowledged that women are sometimes perpetrators of gender violence but added that the pattern is overwhelmingly one of men abusing women.
"I've spoken to hundreds of prosecutors and police officers--these are men, they have no reason to discriminate--and I've asked them, what's the reality? One officer who's a friend of mine said he's only heard of one case involving a female perpetrator," he said.
While one in seven males will be sexually abused by the time they are 18, most of their assailants are men, Mr. Katz said. Male-against-male sexual assault is widely underreported--not only because of the humiliation that comes with being violated but because of homophobia and the tendency within American society to blame the victim for the assailant's behavior.
Because perpetrators are normal in every other way, men must learn to recognize behavior that may indicate a pattern of abuse, he said.
"Often when you hear about someone being arrested or found out (for gender violence), the people who know him are completely shocked. They'll say, 'He was such a good guy,' or 'That's not in character with his normal behavior.' But so many of the men who perpetrate these crimes are completely normal in every other way," he said.
Through his discussions, Mr. Katz encourages Airmen to make a difference.
"Men have the power to change how common domestic abuse and sexual assault occur in this country," he said. "'That's the way it is,' is not a mindset that makes a positive change.
"If people in the Air Force--men and women--can take a positive approach ... we can show the rest of society how to really be proactive about gender violence," he said.
Taming The Macho Man
Published: Jan 24, 2006 - THE TAMPA TRIBUNE
KARLA JACKSON firstname.lastname@example.org
TAMPA - If you believe what you see in movies and on television, a "real man" should have the muscles of Jose Canseco, the humility of Terrell Owens, the patience of Russell Crowe and the self-control of Danny Bonaduce.
Never mind that Canseco's muscles were the result of steroids; that Owens' ego has cost him more than $750,000 this season; that Crowe could have gone to prison for assaulting a hotel clerk; and that Bonaduce got drunk, threw temper tantrums and slashed his wrist during the filming of his "Breaking Bonaduce" reality show.
That's just what guys do, according to popular culture.
"Violent masculinity is a cultural norm in the United States. It's not aberrational behavior," says Jackson Katz, a feminist activist, educational video maker and author of "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help" (Sourcebooks: $16.95).
Katz, 45, has been working since college to put an end to the cultural damage he believes is caused by the stereotype of the uber-macho male so prevalent in movies, television, music, video games and other forms of mass media.
He will be in Tampa on Feb. 2 to give a multimedia presentation on his theories at a benefit dinner for The Ophelia Project, a girls advocacy group.
Of course, most men don't advocate the dangerous hyper-masculinity so common in pop culture, Katz says. But too many of them dismiss its damaging effects or feel powerless to object to it, he says.
"If you say anything, you're accused of being a censor, or that you don't have a good sense of humor," he says. "But there are an awful lot of men out there who ... don't feel represented by this stuff, and those men don't have a voice."
Katz takes issue with people who say, "I watched violent movies and I don't kill people. I listen to Eminem and I don't cut up people and put them in my trunk."
They are missing the point, he says.
"It's not about imitation," says Katz, who, in 1982, was the first man to graduate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a minor in women's studies.
"The larger problem is that boys and men are growing up with innumerable images of men acting out in violent and abusive ways. It has the effect of normalizing the behavior. The more violence you see, the more normal it becomes, and the more desensitized you become."
He points to the rampant popularity of professional wrestling and celebrities such as Howard Stern as examples of how violence and misogyny have become acceptable to the public at large.
"Wrestling is like a cartoon world, where men are big brutes and women and girls are two-dimensional caricatures of human beings," says Katz, who produced an educational video, "Wrestling With Manhood: Boys, Bullying & Battering" in 2002.
He'll show examples of what he's talking about during his Tampa appearance.
"The level of domestic and sexual violence in professional wrestling is out of control," he says. "They'll claim it's all scripted and acting, but that's what makes it normative."
One clip he'll show depicts the Bay area's Hulk Hogan holding a woman by the hair and making a fist as if he's going to punch her in the face.
"He's motioning to the audience as if asking them, 'Should I do it?' And they're cheering him on," Katz says.
Another clip shows Vince McMahon, founder and chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, forcing a woman to strip down to her undergarments in order to earn his forgiveness for a perceived slight.
"It's like a forced strip show while the audience is cheering him on," Katz says. "Then he makes her bark like a dog. It's a form of sexual sadism, and this is on mainstream TV."
Wrestling fans argue that it's Katz who doesn't get it.
"I think the critics don't really understand [professional wrestling] and don't view it as the fans do," says Gary Davis, a spokesman for World Wrestling Entertainment. "It's a combination of soap opera, variety show, grand adventure and theater all rolled into one."
Fans "have an affinity with the stars, but that does not carry over into trying to play out the stories they watch on television in real life."
He dismisses Katz's assertion that televised wrestling makes violence and abuse seem like a normal part of everyday life.
"I think it's the total opposite," he says. "What probably has a greater bearing on how you treat women and how you look at violence is the environment you live in.
"The type of things we do in wrestling don't translate into what people are doing in real life. I don't see anybody being arrested for homicide by folding chair."
From Bogey To Arnold
On television and in the movies, Katz points out, the stereotypical "tough guy" image has become more threatening over time. He compares Humphrey Bogart and the small pistol he used in many movies to Arnold Schwarzenegger and the submachine gun he carries in the "Terminator" movies.
"Visually, they are ratcheting up what it takes to be menacing," Katz says. "Would young guys today be intimidated by Bogey with his little .38? I doubt it."
The fact that it takes more firepower and gore to get a reaction from kids is proof of what he's talking about, Katz says.
"Should [a boy] be able to walk into a movie theater and see people being killed in all kinds of brutal ways and not flinch or be squeamish? A lot of young guys will brag about being able to watch that stuff," says Katz, who has a 4-year-old son.
"What they're bragging about is the damage that has already been done to their psyche."
Those boys grow into men who don't feel empathy or compassion, and the cycle of violence escalates, he says.
Breaking the cycle will take decades of effort by men who aren't afraid to be called sissies because they speak out against violence.
"Social change is a messy process," Katz says. "We need more men with the guts to stand up and say abusive behavior is abusive behavior, and it's not right, and it doesn't make me less of a man to point that out."
Violence All Men´s Problem
Published on February 20, 2006 by The London Free Press, London, Ontario, Canada
by Ian Gillespie
I've always thought it wasn't my problem. I mean, I'm not a rapist. I don't beat my wife. I'm just a regular guy. So, when talk turns to sexism, misogyny and violence against women, I furrow my brow, nod my head and show concern.
But in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, "Some guys are jerks, but I can't help it."
Jackson Katz begs to differ. As far as he's concerned, I'm part of the problem.
"We need to set the bar a little higher for what it means to be a 'good guy,' " says the California-based activist. "Just saying, 'I'm not a rapist' doesn't quite get there."
Katz is one of the continent's leading experts on violence prevention. An all-state football player who grew up in Boston, Katz has created several award-winning videos, wrote a new book due out next month (The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help) and co-founded the Mentors in Violence program -- a large-scale attempt to enlist collegiate and professional athletes in the fight against violence against women.
If that's not enough, he also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
But according to Katz -- who is scheduled to talk about his ideas Monday at the London Convention Centre -- I'm the kind of guy who helps produce hundreds of thousands of abusive boys each year.
"Our participation in consumer culture has consequences," Katz says. "And men need to think critically about how our consumer dollars contribute to a system that reinforces sexist beliefs and attitudes."
Now, just a minute. I don't buy Hustler magazine and I don't rent pornographic videos.
Mind you, I'm not going to rush to change channels if one of those Victoria's Secret shows comes on or that Sports Illustrated swimsuit special.
And, hey -- did you catch Halle Berry in that James Bond flick on TV the other night? Wow, is she hot or . . . .
But I'm a good dad. Why, just the other night my sons and I were watching a bit of WWE wrestling on TV and we just had to laugh when that buxom bimbo Victoria climbed into the ring and . . . Oops.
Somehow, I think this is what Katz is talking about.
Although Katz agrees today's young people are more informed about these issues than their parents were, he also argues there's more sexual violence than ever.
"There's a level of callousness and brutality that's entered the culture that was not around a generation ago," he says. "The coarsening of the mainstream media culture is implicated in some of the attitudes and behaviours we're seeing being played out by boys and men."
Katz recalls an incident during his high school days (I recall a similar one at my school) where some senior male students created huge cards depicting numbers 1 through 10, then graded female students walking past.
But now, he says, that type of degrading behaviour is a regular part of mainstream entertainment -- like Howard Stern's radio show.
Some, of course, will argue most listeners understand and appreciate the satiric nature of Stern's shows. Others will point out most young men who watch a film involving violent behaviour don't immediately go out and imitate it.
Katz says that's a simplistic argument.
"The larger effect is desensitization and normalization," he says, adding that for many young viewers the damage is already done.
"In my judgment, healthy human beings should not be able to watch, even in a fictional context, people brutalizing each other without thinking it's a problem."
In the end, he says, even "regular guys" like me have to share the blame.
"If you yourself are not abusive, but the men around you are and you don't challenge them, then your silence is complicity in their abuse," Katz says.
"I think we need a broader understanding of our responsibilities as men."
Copyright © 2006 The London Free Press
Shocked by Recent Headlines? These Sex Cases Just Grim Reality
By Ruben Rosario
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Posted on Thu, Mar. 23, 2006
Let's get real here. People are shocked that a Roseville high school girl was blackmailed into giving oral sex to a male student and several classmates and friends. People also are shocked that a 16-year-old runaway in St. Paul was held captive against her will for weeks, beaten, locked in a closet and forced to prostitute until she escaped.
Disturbing? No doubt. Shocking? Come on now. These are just slight variations on an old theme that continues to spawn new predators and claim new victims.
Rent "Hardcore,'' a movie shot back in the day — 1979 — that stars the late George C. Scott and chronicles a desperate Midwest father's attempts to rescue his runaway daughter from the clutches of porn filmmakers and pimps in Hollywood. The "Minnesota Strip'' has long been a name associated with the naive young arrivals from the heartland who are preyed upon by pimps working the bus terminal depot in New York City's Times Square.
Check out your frequent high school and college sex scandals involving boys or young men drugging or running a "train'' — slang for gang rape — on defenseless girls and having the audacity to put the depravity on film. And these are just the ones that get reported or busted. Most don't.
Better yet, talk to local sex-crimes cops, social workers, child-protection investigators and others who deal with this filth daily here in the Land of 10,000 Broken Young Souls. In the past two years, the feds have sent nearly a million dollars to St. Paul cops and two nonprofits to deal with the local human-trafficking problem.
Spare me the apple-pie reactions to these latest cases. We should have moved way beyond shock by now.
"I believe the shock is there in the high school case because the offender is not a stranger, it's not a Level 3 sex offender, it's not an adult male wearing a trench coat — it's a high school student,'' says Nancy Sabin, executive director of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that addresses child sexual-abuse issues.
"But this happens quite often; oral sex has almost been diminished into a handshake,'' she adds. "The problem is that we are sending mixed messages to our boys and young men. They don't think what they are doing is wrong.''
She cites a recent study that estimated the amount of quality time parents spend on average with a child daily is 22 minutes. "Where do you think they are picking up that moral boundary?''
Well, mostly peers, the boob tube and an entertainment media and culture that are perhaps unprecedented in its objectification of females. It's no "shock" that perhaps the most profitable business on the Internet is the porn industry. This is not just a crime problem. This is an entrenched cultural mind-set.
Jackson Katz, a lecturer, former school jock and founder of Real Men, a Boston-based anti-sexist men's group, touches on this theme often in his soon-to-be-released book. "The Macho Paradox'' (Sourcebooks, 2006).
Katz writes: "But any serious attempt to help boys think through their decisions about how to treat girls has to examine those places in male culture where sexist and abusive behavior is presented as normal and masculine and even expected — and where there are no real consequences for hurting people, including Internet pornography."
He cites the hit movie "American Pie,'' whose central character arranges to videotape himself having sex with a Czech exchange student and broadcast it on the Internet to friends.
"When American Pie was released in 1999, critics hailed it as good clean fun,'' Katz writes. "Practically no one mentioned that one of the main plot points turned on the lead character's stumbling attempts to commit an unforgivably cruel and sexist act — the type of act that ruins lives when it happens in the real world."
Sabin hopes that the boys allegedly involved in the Roseville incident area are dealt with, but not just by the criminal justice system.
"This is an opportunity to intervene in the lives of young men who think this behavior is OK,'' she says.
The story broke the same night Sabin and Roseville police officials spoke at a community notification about a Level 3 sex offender moving into the suburb.
"The offender had unforced sex with minors,'' Sabin says. "I mentioned the (male student) and basically posed a question: Is he also not a sex offender? As long as we keep denying we have this problem — that it's just strangers and not kids like this — we won't be able to fix it.''
If we do ever get it, that would be shocking.
Rubén Rosario can be reached at email@example.com.
Katz Challenges Men to Prevent Sexual Abuse
April 12, 2006 | The dartmouthBy Amanda Cohen, The Dartmouth Staff
Using a different approach to sexual violence prevention at "More Than a Few Good Men," a dinner discussion held in Collis Common Ground Tuesday evening, speaker Jackson Katz challenged men to tackle a problem that has historically and inaccurately, he attests, been designated as a women's issue. Unlike many other violence prevention programs, Katz's speech was geared toward men, and he labeled sexual abuse and domestic violence as very much a man's problem and focused on what men can do prevent their occurrence.
"The source of the problem is not women's and girls' behavior, its men's behavior. True prevention means going into male culture," said Katz, who founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program at Northeastern University.
Katz was careful not to accuse men of perpetrating sexual abuse and domestic violence, but instead emphasized the importance of having good men stand up.
"Just saying I'm not a rapist, just saying I don't beat my girlfriend, is not particularly impressive to me. We need so much more from men then what we've been getting on these issues," Katz said.
The mostly male audience was comprised largely of Dartmouth football players who were encouraged by Head Coach Buddy Teevens '79 to attend the event. Football player Julian Collins '08 appreciated Katz's assessment of the problem and suggestions to help.
"Instead of just teaching women what to do, he wants men to have an active role in it as well. It's a really good message," Collins said.
Katz began by exploring the root of the problem: the pressure on males to comply with misogynist behavior and the risks a man takes if he stands up for a woman when male friends express violent behavior. He asked the audience for the names that men use to describe other men who stand up for women's rights. Many of the terms listed threatened a man's masculinity or sexuality, which Katz looked at more closely to reveal the irony of the pattern.
"The implication here is that because we care about women, and girls -- our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our girlfriends and other women -- because we care about women, we must want to have sex with men," Katz said. "If a man must be gay to care about women, that means that heterosexual men must not care about women. Isn't that disturbing when you draw it out logically?"
Towards the end of the discussion, Katz showed video clips to emphasize how the media perpetuates the male-culture society, which he believes is at the base of male violence, including one which showed the increasing size of the male body through time. As male bodies grew more powerful, the ideal woman's body has become more frail, he said. Katz attributed this change to male overcompensation for the threat women pose in professional society.
"It's pretty true to show how manhood is evolving," Collins said. "[It makes you ask] where's it going to go…I thought it was really eye-opening."
Katz also spoke about using civic and personal responsibility as a way of preventing sexual violence.
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