Anti-Sexist Approach to Gender Violence Gets Men Involved

Instead of focusing exclusively on the victims of gender violence (most often women and girls, but also men and boys), focus on the perpetrators, says MVP Strategies founder Jackson Katz in a recent TEDTalk. Ask why there is so much violence. Look beyond just individuals and specific cases for causes, because gender violence is a global, systemic epidemic.

Katz points out that the violence of (primarily) men is rooted in culture. Family structure, religious views, sports, porn all play a part in perpetuating violence. He offers a new approach to teaching men and boys (but also women and girls) about gender violence, called the “Bystander” strategy, which dispenses with a binary victim/perpetrator way of looking at the issue, and replaces it with thoughts about how bystanders, those not directly involved in abusive relationships, can be more effective to call out and change abuse by modeling good leadership.

Katz thanks the generations of feminists who have focused on gender violence, because it’s been mostly women who have argued for this change of culture, but, he says, it is men who embrace this imperative that will make the crucial difference.

“Caring about the issue is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other, and to stand with women and not against them. We owe it to women, but we also owe it to our sons.”

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