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More than a "Women's Issue"

More than a “Women’s Issue”

In November 2008 I attended very inspiring presentation at University of Toronto on Anti Sexism and Anti Violence Against Women. The best thing about this presentation is that unlike many other conferences and workshops on that theme, this one was prepared and delivered by a man.
The whole event was organized by The White Ribbon campaign, a group of men who work together to end violence against women and who rightly insist that men should be more proactive when it comes to violence prevention and antiviolence education.
I hardly know any other man who can talk about it better than Jackson Katz – an educator, author and filmmaker who is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work in the filed of gender violence prevention and education, particularly in the sport and military culture.
His strongest point is that he is brave and insightful enough to bring violence against women outside the discourse of “women’s issues”. He puts it in the wider context of a mass culture which is saturated with violence, where masculinity equals aggressive behavior, where females’ degrading is common and being tough is part of being a man.
Jackson Katz draws our attention to the fact that our predominantly masculine culture is in crisis. The strong connection between masculinity and violence doesn’t do anything good to men either. From an early age boys are taught to suppress their emotions, tolerate their own and others pain. This is how violence becomes part of manhood.
Yet we are supposed to believe that violence against women including sexual and domestic violence is an isolated “women’s issue” even though according to North American statistics 90% of violence against women is perpetrated by men.
“What’s in a name?” you may ask and why is it so important that violence against women has to be discussed not as women’s but a men’s issue? Because as long as it stays women’s issue the focus won’t shift towards the perpetrators, that is to men and to the culture that promotes violence. And as long as men stay out of these discussions we won’t achieve real changes.
The time has come to redefine the concept of masculinity in mass culture and men have to take more proactive role in violence prevention. Staying a silent bystander is simply not enough.
For more information and resources on violence prevention, antiviolence education and media literacy visit
www.jacksoncatz.com
www.whiteribbon.com
www.mediaed.org
Julia Fursova

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