Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why does race mean black and gender mean female?

That's one of the questions Jackson Katz asks in this Ted Talk video, in which he also argues
  • Violence against women is NOT a women's issue - it's a men's issue.  Men play the central role in gender violence, yet the focus of all the discussion is on what women do or don't do.  He shows how the sentence "John beat Mary" too often is grammatically altered to "Mary is a battered woman" and John is left  totally out of the conversation.
  • It's not just about men. It's about the institutions that create so many male abusers.  It's about the sports culture, the religious belief systems, the pornography culture, the economic and family structures and how all these interface. 
  • Perpetrators are not evil monsters that come out of the swamp to attack their victims, they are much more ordinary, much more a part of all our daily lives.  
  • The key is to focus on men, not the women, and the socialization of boys and our definitions of manhood.
  • Women who stand up against abuse get shouted down with demeaning names because men don't want the issues raised, their power and privilege challenged, including the power and privilege to ignore this issue.
  • Men have to stand up because they can be heard saying things that women often can't be heard saying. 
  • It's not a sensitivity issue, it's a leadership issue.  Men in leadership positions don't take appropriate action to stop violence against women in the organizations they head and men in general don't take on leadership roles by objecting to racist and sexist comments in men only settings.
  • That men in power, by laughing at sexist jokes, by giving consent with their silence give status to men who talk about and use violence. They have to stop doing this.

He makes one good point after another.  In light of the Penn State scandal, the Catholic church, the Boy Scouts, and on and on, this is a massive and important issue and I'd urge people to just start the video.  Give him a minute.

Thanks to M for pointing this one out.

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