Jackson Katz: Violence Against Women is a Men’s Issue

“Even the term ‘violence against women’ is problematic. It’s a passive construction, there’s no active agent in the sentence…nobody is doing it to them. It just happens to them, men aren’t even a part of it.” – Jackson Katz, Ph.D.

gender based violence
Jackson Katz for Tedx

With everything going on around the world – looking to South Africa, London and Atlanta in particular, though we all know it’s been a global problem – it’s just been a heavy, frightening, upsetting time with regard to violence against women. And speaking as a woman, it’s been difficult to process the anger and frustration that comes along with seeing how much others like me are hurting… alongside the inaction, the “#notallmen”-ing and the “devil’s advocacy” as a stand-in for defense from some folks, men in particular. Yeah. It’s just been difficult, and I know many of us feel that way.

I tripped over this video yesterday as I was making my way around the internet, and wanted to pass it along. It’s an oldie – all the way from 2013 – featuring anti-sexism activist, author and filmmaker Jackson Katz, speaking at TEDx FiDiWomen. I write for a living, but I don’t think I can tell you how good these twenty minutes have been for my spirit today. His passion for this work and issue is palpable in his voice as he gives his talk, which is a powerful palette-cleanser after all the nonsense and harm we encounter just logging onto social media. And if you’ve been feeling like me, I think this might do you some good as well.

Katz opens by explaining how the way we talk about men’s violence against women – the phrases we use, the blame we place and misplace – all serve to erase men from the tableau completely; and how there’s a fundamental disconnect between men’s (mis)understanding of gender-based violence and their own behavior.

Katz also details many of the things that men can do to sit up, get aware and take tangible action to protect women and shut down harmful behavior in other men that leads to violence towards girls and women – as well as boys and other men. Because violence against women isn’t something that just happens to women and arises out of a vacuum; it’s something that men can and must take responsibility to stop. That means joining forces with – and more importantly, following the lead of – the women who are already doing this work.

So hit play and detox from the “bro trolls” by listening to a smart, compassionate thought leader calling men forward to accountability and action. And then pass it along to the men in your lives that need to know how to become accomplices with us in dismantling the systems that are causing us so much harm. Lots of love to all of you <3

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