Yesterday’s story reminded us of a conference we attended a few years ago where Jackson Katz was the keynote speaker. Katz is a well-known activist in the anti-violence movement, primarily due to his research with males on gender based violence.
During the introductory remarks, he said that for most men, it is hard to understand how patriarchy exists in the male being. He gave the example of taking up space on a public bus. He demonstrated how men sit, by sitting on a chair- wider stance from hips to floor, shoulders out, with elbows out. The audience laughed. Then he demonstrated how women sit- crossed legs, in the seat space, and with arms in. The audience members gasped. With an audience filled mostly with females, it was shocking to see how we try to take up as little space as possible in public, yet we all have done at least once in our lifetimes. It was mind-blowing to see a common act demonstrated in the framework of patriarchy.
We often get questions from our male allies on what they can do to make a difference in the anti-violence movement. We think Katz’ list is a great start:
Ten things men can do to prevent gender violence
- Approach gender violence as a MEN’S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
- If a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner — or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general — don’t look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don’t know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON’T REMAIN SILENT.
- Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don’t be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
- If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
- If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
- Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women’s centers. Attend “Take Back the Night” rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women’s shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
- Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
- Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence. Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
- Don’t fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
- Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don’t involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men’s programs. Lead by example.
What would you add to this list?