April is sexual assault awareness month. It’s sad to think that I didn’t know that until this year, but hey, it’s never too late to learn (after all, at least one more person is aware!). The reason I now know this is because I had the pleasure of listening to Jackson Katz, who is recognized as one of America’s leading anti-sexist male activists, talk about how violence against women is also a men’s issue. His talk that he gave to various members of the student body here at AU was loosely based off of his TED Talk, Jackson Katz: Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue and provided a unique viewpoint on violence against women- one that I had never heard or pondered.
If there was one main thing that he wanted to get across to those who attended his talk, it was that it enrages him that violence against women has, “been seen as a women’s issue that some good men help out with” because he believes that, “calling gender violence a women’s issue is part of the problem”. By calling sexual assault and violence against women a women’s issue solely, he believes that it gives men an excuse to not pay attention. Even here at AU, his belief was held true. When you look at who attended his talk, the majority were women. Not only that, but even though all Greek organizations were required to have at least 70% of their organization in attendance or else they would be faced with a fine, only two fraternities of thirteen on campus met the requirement, while almost every sorority did. (I guess now I know which frats to avoid). This is part of the issue: gender violence is a problem that affects both men and women, yet it is viewed as “unmanly” to actively support women in the effort to alleviate said violence. Every man has a mother and grandmother. Some have sisters. Eventually, most will have wives. We can’t coexist on this planet without members of the opposite sex, so it baffles me that in 2014, there is still gender inequality and patriarchal dominance that reigns superior in our society.
But what can we do? There’s still work to be done and it all starts with taking action instead of only taking interest, so I’ll leave you with this idea from Katz.
“There’s so many men who care deeply about these issues, but caring deeply is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them.”
What do you think about this topic? Should more men be challenged to stand up for women or is it too ingrained in their minds to put women down? How can we begin to make positive changes to help the genders become more equal? Is this even possible?
*If this interests you, make sure and check out my post about AU and EI and how sexual assault plays a part in the whole debacle.