Violence against women: it’s a men’s issue — a talk by Jackson Katz featured at TGC

Violence against women:  it’s a men’s issue  is a TED talk by Jackson Katz.

Many of you will never have heard of Jackson Katz, but he is an educator, author, filmmaker and cultural theorist who is a pioneer in the fields of gender violence prevention education and media literacy. He is co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), which enlists men in the struggle to prevent men’s violence against women. Celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, MVP has become a widely used sexual and domestic violence prevention initiative in college and professional athletics across North America. Katz and his MVP colleagues have also worked extensively with schools, youth sports associations and community organizations, as well as with all major branches of the U.S. military.

(Note: It may well have been the work of Katz and his colleagues at MPV that led to the US military introducing yearly mandatory Domestic Violence Training for all military personnel, which one of our readers, Bethany, greatly benefited from when she was seeking safety from her husband’s abuse.]

Katz is the creator of popular educational videos including Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity. He is the author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, and Leading Men: Presidential Campaigns and the Politics of Manhood.

Katz is not a Christian to our knowledge but his talk above was featured on The Gospel Coalition in a post by Thabiti Anyabwile. I want to congratulate Thabiti Anyabwile for showing fine leadership and for having a heart for this issue. The text of his post is very brief so I’m reproducing it all here:

“Calling gender violence against women a ‘women’s issue’ is part of the problem.” That’s Jackson Katz’s perspective and I think he is right. An excellent talk that highlights, in part, the way privilege and language exempts men from caring about and acting when abuse comes into view. I appreciate Katz’s mild rant here; it’s a much-needed rant. Consider Katz’s TEDS talk and, brothers, let’s own this thing.

We here at A Cry For Justice echo Thabiti Anyabwile’s words to men: brothers, let’s [all] own this thing.

And men, do you hear that statement differently when it comes from a woman rather than from a man? If so, why?

16 thoughts on “Violence against women: it’s a men’s issue — a talk by Jackson Katz featured at TGC”

  1. Thank you, Barbara!! You’ve given some very helpful information and links for me to follow up on.
    I have addressed these same issues on my recent post: Defining Matters [Internet Archive link] [The original link was broken and only went to the home page of Anne Vyn’s blog. The oldest Internet Archived link of her home page didn’t show any posts old enough to match the one to which Anne Vyn might have been referencing, and attempts to access older posts didn’t work. Editors.]
    “A Cry for Justice” carries a necessary voice on these issues and I hope to include references to this site in future posts.

  2. Something to bear in mind here – it’s not just men who can minimise abuse against women, particularly where it is connected with a church. Sometimes, other women can be just as bad at accepting a victim’s pleas as valid and giving the abuser a free pass. Women are expected to forgive and forget as long as the man says he is willing to remain in the marriage. And what abuser would willingly give up their victim? In my previous experience as a counsellor, it was predominantly women who were the victims and they were often reluctant to call their abuser out on anything. When victims do finally act, it is often traumatic and they receive little sympathy from either sex.

    1. Oh yes, Forrest, I agree that women bystanders can also minimise abuse against women, particularly when the victim’s a member of a church. And in my observation and personal experience, women bystanders can be sometimes even nastier than men in the personal comments they make to the victim.
      An anecdote I heard: A female elder heard some news about a woman whose family used to belong to her congregation but had moved 120 km away. The snippet of news she heard was the this wife had separated from her husband. The elder drove all that distance to visit this woman, knocked on her door unannounced, and told her, “Don’t divorce Peter.” No preliminary conversation; no ‘Would you like to tell me what’s been happening?’ Not even ‘How are you? Are you all right?’ Just the peremptory order delivered at the front doorstep: DON’T DIVORCE!

      However, because men usually hold the leadership roles in churches, their unkind responses to victims carry more power than the women bystanders comments. I’ve been cut to the quick by dismissive and cutting remarks from women church members AND I’ve seen male church leaders crush women victims into submission by the exercise of ecclesiastical power. Sometimes the pastor and his wife do this in concert, and the pastor’s wife is the one who spends more time ‘counseling’ the victim — in conservative churches, counseling-type conversations between two people of the opposite sex are frowned upon, and there are all sorts of spoken or unspoken rules about a man being in the same room alone with a woman Freak Out — Red Flag of Immorality. So the pastor’s wife is given an influential role (if she chooses to accept it) in counseling wives. And if her husband has had little training in counseling and domestic abuse, his wife has probably had even less . . .

      1. And if her husband has had little training in counseling and domestic abuse, his wife has probably had even less . . .

        Or worse, she has a lot of training and counseling in marriage issues which include domestic abuse, and what she has is twisted and distorted.

  3. At 12:35. “Because the typical perpetrator is not sick and twisted, he is a normal guy in every other way, isn’t he.” Is he saying here that the abuse an abuser dishes out is not who he really is? Or, is he saying that for all intents and purposes, he looks like a normal guy, in every other way?

    Also, is he saying that if someone would just interrupt the thought process or tell the abuser they don’t appreciate what he is doing, or make him feel like a social outcast, that the abuser would stop abusing? I don’t mean to be slow on the take, but just wondering and would like to know what others think of or how they interpret the above statements.

    1. I think you’re right. He does seem to frame the abuser as a normal guy who should respond positively to this type of peer correction.

  4. Barb, I don’t hear it differently, but I may be a bit out of the mainstream as far as males are concerned. Most importantly, I agree with it, so it does not matter if it comes from a woman or not.

    I have always taken the approach that we are responsible for our own actions and reactions. Yesterday was my 37th anniversary, and like most marriages, we have had our share of arguments. We have irritated each other at times and gotten angry or hurt. In all of that time, my reaction to something my wife did or said (or disagreed with me on) was not her fault, but mine. If I overreacted, it was my fault for doing so.

    I guess the point of what he is trying to say is that we have to take responsibility as men for how we treat our wives, and it doesn’t matter to me if it is a woman saying that or a man. The messenger is irrelevant to me, though I know some men who would outright reject it if it came from a woman. I can hear their excuses now!

    1. Thanks Wendell. I know there are some men (like you) who do not hear women’s words through a different filter than the one they use for men’s words.

      One thing I really appreciate about Katz and others like him is that they are trying to get the non-abusive men to stand up and become proactive on the issue of male violence against women, rather than just remaining passive.

    2. I really appreciate hearing your perspective as a male. I wonder what it’s like for an average male to hear that challenge? Would they think that the guy is just one of those left-wing hippie do-gooder brainwashed feminists? How do other males react to you when you bring up the topic or actively advocate like this guy does?

      1. Usually, I get a polite nod with an embarrassed look on their face. Often, they will change the topic. Part of my problem is that I don’t have many male friends. I am not comfortable with the macho culture, have little interest in sports, and wish a lot of us men would just grow up.

  5. Mr. Katz basic premise that abuse is a Men’s issue is a critical understanding that the church and world needs to get. It is so very refreshing to hear this . It reminds me of how liberating it was for me to read Brad Hambrick say that abuse is a character issue, not a marital issue. I so deeply wish that this truth could be heard and acted on in the evangelical church. This shift in thinking alone could prevent so much further abuse to abuse victims from people that somehow believe its their fault.
    Thank you for posting this.

  6. Absolutely wonderful! This really helps me, thanks Barbara. I am going to pass this video on to the Freedom Programme I am doing, it will help all the ladies there for sure.

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