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Gender violence: Not just a women’s issue

OCTOBER 26, 2012
by Maggie Johnson’14, Contributing Writer

In a country that claims “justice for all,” it should come as a shock that issues of domestic and sexual violence toward women tend to be met with silence and complacency by the general public, says Jackson Katz, a nationally acclaimed lecturer on gender violence.

Katz was on campus Wednesday to deliver a lecture titled “Drink Like a Man: Why Gender Violence is an Issue for Men.” According to Katz, the author of several books on the subject of social factors of sexual assault and founder of Mentors for Violence Prevention, one of the most widely used prevention programs in the U.S. collegiate and military circuits, there is much to be done if the situation of domestic and sexual violence is to improve.

“For too long, issues like this have been seen exclusively as women’s issues that some good men help out with,” he said. “By thinking of sexual violence as an individual problem, we fail to analyze the institutional factors that promote it.”

One of the biggest institutional factors, according to Katz, is the way gender norms are portrayed and promoted through media.

During his presentation, Katz used a series of media clips from Disney and ESPN, to show how ideas of gender inadvertently contribute to social views on gender sexuality, especially concerning masculinity and what it means to be a man in today’s culture. Through the clips, Katz showed how control through force and violence are seen as standard gender norms for men, norms that Katz says, need to change if progress is to be made.

“It’s about changing the social norms that produce violent men,” he says.

According to Katz, this means making gender violence an issue that affects not only women, but society as a whole and, according to Katz, men’s participation is crucial to solving the problem.

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