Violence against women—it's a men's issue: Jackson Katz at TEDxFiDiWomen
October 19, 2013 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Jackson Katz, Phd, is an anti-sexist activist and expert on violence, media and masculinities. An author, filmmaker, educator and social theorist, Katz has worked in gender violence prevention work with diverse groups of men and boys in sports culture and the military, and has pioneered work in critical media literacy. Katz is the creator and co-founder of the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, which advocates the 'bystander approach' to sexual and domestic violence prevention.

Also, Tony Porter makes a call to men everywhere: Don't "act like a man." Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other. His solution: Break free of the "man box."
posted by Blasdelb (31 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
does anyone know if he trains trainers?
posted by parmanparman at 3:31 PM on October 19, 2013

Thanks for posting it--I didn't know about this talk. I use Katz' film Tough Guise every semester when teaching about gender and the media. I really wish Katz would do an updated version with current examples since it's from 2000, but still, it is very good. Almost without exception, students respond to it positively and find it thought-provoking.

And thanks also for the Tony Porter link. Good stuff.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:31 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I use Katz' film Tough Guise every semester when teaching about gender and the media. I really wish Katz would do an updated version with current examples since it's from 2000, but still, it is very good.

Ask and you shall receive. (Just saw the Sociological Images post on the new film the other day, but have obviously not seen it myself.)
posted by ubersturm at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

parmanparman, Katz' MVP organization does indeed do train-the-trainer work.

Also, the Toronto-based White Ribbon Campaign (with Jeff Perera) does similar training.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:36 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Wow, it was startling to see someone speak on this topic and basically agree with every single thing he had to say. Violence against women is really not a women's issue, it is actually primarily a men's issue, and calling is a women's issue causes men, quite logically, to just tune out.

This guy has a lot of courage and must take a great deal of heat from men. For example, as always, don't read the YouTube comments. Gah!
posted by onlyconnect at 3:42 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Without having watched either video, my response to the title of the second one linked would be that it surely depends on what your image of "acting like a man" is. Being strong, independently minded, and gentle has always summed it up for me.
posted by walrus at 3:47 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

You might want to watch the video to get an idea of what he means.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:50 PM on October 19, 2013 [25 favorites]

I do like his "not sensitivity training but leadership training" line. I mean, it's not perfect, but it makes a really good point.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2013 [7 favorites]

I might, yes.
posted by walrus at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really liked this, from Tony Porter's talk: "I need you working with me and me working with you on how we raise our sons and teach them to be men -- that it's okay to not be dominating, that it's okay to have feelings and emotions, that it's okay to promote equality, that it's okay to have women who are just friends and that's it, that it's okay to be whole, that my liberation as a man is tied to your liberation as a woman." (My italics.) "Acting like a man," in this sense, is escaping from the dominant role and understanding its limiting parameters.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

FWIW, Rebecca Woolf of Girls Gone Child has also been blogging about the subject of teaching kids to defy gender roles and how to raise boys in particular, e.g., here.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:53 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Having watched it now Blasdelb I can say I agree with everything he said, but I have always considered myself privileged to have had positive male role models.
posted by walrus at 4:17 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Great talk. Wish I hadn't read the YT comments.
posted by mopheeoos at 4:17 PM on October 19, 2013

Dr. Katz, Social Theorist.
posted by lbebber at 4:29 PM on October 19, 2013

Remember when that Schwatever kept getting big splashy articles about a definition of "feminism" that wasn't really feminist at all? Yeah. I wish Dr. Katz -- who has, as long as I can remember, been a great ally to women -- got those kinds of column inches.
posted by pxe2000 at 4:36 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

More needs to be done for young boys, to teach them alternatives to the macho ethic. Of course, we still need to be doing as much for women, and more, to continue on the road to freedom. With that being said, women will never be free as long as men are not free from the chains of the macho ethic and all it stands for - or at least until young boys and men in general are somehow able to gain sufficient perspective to deconstruct the impact that the "macho affect" has on their lives, and those around them - and take individual action to chip away at neutralizing or changing the negative effect that the macho effect has on their lives. What all men need to learn is that one can be manly without being a jerk, or worse..

Related note: I continue to be saddened - and maddened - when I see so much of the social media and entertainment media that young boys (and girls) are exposed to absolutely dripping with negative stereotypes of both sexes; reinforcing sexist ideals; and, making negative stereotypes appear as "cool" to the young people that are consuming that media. Young people model this crap in their lives, and pattern thinking about the opposite sex.
posted by Vibrissae at 4:44 PM on October 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

ubersturm, thanks for the link to the trailer for Jackson Katz's "Tough Guise 2."

Last night, I finished reading Junot Diaz's "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," and was struck by his critical look at Dominican ideas of masculinity. In an interview with MIT's newspaper, The Tech, the following exchange occurs:
TT: You mentioned in an interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air that “it was like Fight Club” growing up. That your father thought that kids should fight, and made sure that you all did. So were you a good fighter? Did you usually win?

JD: What a sensational question. Let’s say I was the best fight there was in Central Jersey and I knocked plenty of folks out. Would that change the basic cruelty of that dynamic, the sadness of a boy trying to impress, to curry love from his father, through fighting?
Physical and emotional violence as the currency of masculine approval, as the conduit for love and acceptance among men -- to reframe that as a kind of failure of leadership rather than silently accepting it as the sole natural norm is a really big deal.

Thanks, ubersturm, and thanks, Blasdelb; this is interesting stuff, and potentially helpful to me as a mother to a boy who has no interest in "The Hunger Games" because why (he asked) would he want to see teenagers killing each other? [Which I thought was great, but it was hard to see him turn away from his friends when they re-enacted it during get-togethers at the park.] I hope that Katz's and Porter's messages about recasting manhood are effective, and I would very much like to see the box of masculinity challenged in popular culture along the lines of the "Ghost Chips" PSA, because Jesus, standing up to it at a time when so much is riding on social acceptance... Anyway, thanks for providing more food for thought.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:21 PM on October 19, 2013 [9 favorites]

I saw 'Tough Guise' as part of an undergrad course (women's studies, probably) and it hit me like a ton of bricks. He's doing good work, and I'm glad to see an updated version.
posted by Fig at 6:24 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do think that the increasing acknowledgment of gay rights will weaken machismo. Homophobia is a key weapon in enforcing masculine codes of behavior, at least between men who are peers. If there's no longer the threat of social stigma and violence, "what are you, gay or something?" loses a lot of its power to make men afraid to break with gender norms and respect women. It's fantastic that people are trying to provide a new, positive model for masculinity as the old, terrible model weakens.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:24 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

16:17: "My argument is, he doesn't need sensitivity training. He needs leadership training. Because he's being a bad leader. Because in a society with gender diversity and sexual diversity, and racial and ethnic diversity, you make those kind of comments, you're failing at your leadership. If we can make this point that I'm making to powerful men and women in our society at all levels of institutional authority and power, it's gonna change. It's gonna change the paradigm of people's thinking."

Hear, hear.

These links are excellent.
posted by quiet earth at 6:43 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Recently, the U.S. Army (and probably the other branches too) had a Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Stand Down Day and part of the training was to show the video from the first link.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 7:07 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Both awesome links, thanks for posting.
posted by en forme de poire at 7:37 PM on October 19, 2013

TEDx is usually derided as a knock-off program for second-raters and shills, "not really a TED talk." But in this case it's valuable specifically because I can't imagine TED ever having the guts to run this guy -- no gosh-wow feel-good idea to please their "entrepreneurial thought leaders." So good for TEDx.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 8:16 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I find this POV really empowering both for men (I hope) and for me as a woman. I like to think that men respect women not just because they've been forced to be more "sensitive" (a word which has become derisive), but instead because, well, we're valuable members of society and worthwhile human beings. Worthy of friendship and respect.

Really came alive for me recently when listening to a coworker talk about an ex-coworker I'd never met, who refused to respect her in either a cooperative or a supervisory role because she was a woman... he'd send e-mails behind her back, refuse to listen to her (good, veteran) advice, and generally made things slower and more complicated because he wouldn't work with her or learn from her. He was being bad at his job. Because part of his job was to work with her... women are part of the workforce! It's mindboggling to think about the horrible waste created in a sexist, racist, homophobic society.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:28 PM on October 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

The kiddo ended up watching the stage production of Phantom of the Opera* with me tonight; I wasn't sure he would be in to it, the sung dialogue can be pretty obtuse to a seven-year-old, but by the end, he was tearing up at the fate of the Phantom, and it was so nice to feel proud that he had compassion and empathy instead of worried that he was being too "feminine" and I better switch to a superhero show, or just not even let him watch something that was too "girly."

His dad was actually the first man to teach me that teenage boys are just as easily caught up in love and longing as girls, and can be just as crushed when it goes wrong; he certainly still remembers his heartbreaks, just as I do. I've probably had to do more changing in terms of how best to raise our kid, because he already knew the stuff we say about boys and men is bullshit, whereas there was a lot of it that I had never thought to question. I am still learning to watch out for that teaching making me assume the wrong things about who my kiddo is and what he needs.

*and yeah, I know the plot has some weird consent issues in it, I mostly just wanted to hear someone belt out "Music of the Night" while I drank a beer.
posted by emjaybee at 8:32 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

ubersturm, thanks for letting me know about the updated Tough Guise--I'm excited to see it! Well, sad too, because unfortunately he's had plenty more examples of mass shootings to use in this film--the trailer opens with footage from Sandy Hook and the Colorado theatre shooting.

Re: positive examples of masculinity and showing emotions--I recently watched the first few episodes of Broadchurch and in the first episode there is a scene where a mother gently breaks the news of a friend's death to her young son. She tells him that "when someone dies unexpectedly, it leaves a big hole. It's OK to be sad, and it's OK to have a cry." It's a simple scene, beautifully understated and well done--I was impressed.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:09 PM on October 19, 2013

Katz says some stuff that really needs to be said.

I really appreciate that he manages to say this in plain English, rather than in a jargon-heavy 'if you haven't taken a bunch of women's studies classes in college, you don't need to be part of this conversation' kind of way.
posted by nangar at 10:11 PM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

As a feminist who has worked in the field of violence against women for many years, I am acutely aware that little has changed for women (and girls). Women and girls are the source of male violence in even greater numbers than when feminists began to speak out about it over 50 years ago. Why hasn't it changed?
As much as I can appreciate men trying to speak out about men’s responsibilities in ending their violence towards others – I also know that Jackson Katz is not saying anything that has not been said by women in the last 100 years. Why hasn't it changed?
I can also appreciate that he was nervous in the TED presentation (his voice is quivering) – but he really needs to pay attention to his aggressive body language. And, please don’t tell me how hard it is for men to speak out about their violence – sheesh!
He really needs to step it a whole lot before I become a believer.
posted by what's her name at 7:36 AM on October 20, 2013

I think there's room for imperfect voices.

As a feminist who has not worked in the field of violence against women, I found his point regarding "sensitivity training" vs "leadership" to be pretty profound and not one I have heard before. "You need to be more sensitive" has always felt to me like a bit of a cop out. It sounds like what we're saying there is, "you can keep your creepy beliefs but just don't talk about them so much." Sensitivity Training: How to Sound like a Good Guy When You're Not.

Feminists over the years have done amazing work examining the wider social culture and the peer culture of women to make changes. It's heartening to think that in some small way, there are men willing to start examining their own peer culture. It definitely seems like there are more men talking about these issues and deciding for themselves and their children how the future is going to look.
posted by amanda at 7:57 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

As a feminist who has worked in the field of violence against women for many years, I am acutely aware that little has changed for women (and girls). Women and girls are the source of male violence in even greater numbers than when feminists began to speak out about it over 50 years ago. . . . I also know that Jason Katz is not saying anything that has not been said by women in the last 100 years. Why hasn't it changed?

Okay, but isn't that part of what he has been saying? When it's called "violence against women" and treated as a women's issue, maybe it's just women who listen, and men mostly tune out. If you are trying to reach an audience of men, it makes sense to me to listen to men about how to best communicate with and persuade them.

I am a woman and I honestly didn't notice any aggressive body language on Katz's part, fwiw. I thought he was a bit out of breath at times.

Thank you very much for all of your work in this field.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:27 AM on October 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

what's her name, I think that part of the reason it's gotten worse has to be that more people are reporting it. When it was kept secret and hidden, we couldn't really know how widespread it was in any reliable way. Almost everyone I know has stories of violence in their families, the vast majority of them never involving the police or social services.
posted by emjaybee at 10:09 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

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