Jackson Katz: The Macho Paradox

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When Jackson Katz asks a room full of women what they do to avoid sexual assault, the list of answers he receives is endless. Some women have 911 on speed dial. Others check the backseat of their cars before opening the car door. Some use a male voice on their outgoing voicemail message or have mace attached to their keychains.  When Katz poses this same question to men, the room, unsurprisingly, remains silent.

The result of this workshop activity begs the question: why is it that women are taught to live in fear of violence and men are not? Katz is the founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention, a gender violence prevention and education program that is trying to reshape the conversation surrounding that question. Rather than teaching men that they are at the core of the problem, Katz encourages men to see themselves as part of the solution.

Jackson Katz: The Macho Paradox

Jackson Katz: The Macho Paradox

When Jackson Katz asks a room full of women what they do to avoid sexual assault, the list of answers he receives is endless. Some women have 911 on speed dial. Others check the backseat of their cars before opening the car door. Some use a male voice on their outgoing voicemail message or have mace attached to their keychains. When Katz poses this same question to men, the room, unsurprisingly, remains silent. Katz sat down with Mike Walters in the studio to offer a unique perspective on the fight for women’s rights through a male prism.

In order to do this, Katz took inspiration from community- based strategies first developed for young students to combat bullying.

“I and my colleagues took that approach and imported it into the sexual assault and relationship abuse field, because I thought it was a really effective strategy to reduce the defensiveness that so many men feel around these issues,” says Katz. “And it was a way to positively challenge guys to say: there’s something that we can all do.”

In his book, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help, Katz approaches gender-based violence not by blaming men or victimizing women, but by examining the root of gender-related attitudes. Abuse against women is and should be more widely viewed as a men’s issue, argues Katz. While female voices obviously play a large role in advocating for gender equality and safety, Katz hopes that the modern man will see the value of lending his voice to promoting widespread understanding of the issues that women face on a day-to-day basis.

Katz is also encouraged by the fact that typically male dominated industries, such as professional football, are evolving in the way they deal with gender-based violence. He cites the NFL’s response to the infamous Ray Rice incident as an example of how the public reception of domestic abuse is evolving for the better. Instead of attempting to maintain neutrality, as large sports corporations often do in times of scandal, the NFL and the public openly condemned Rice for his actions. While condemning violence against females might seem like an obvious choice, Katz hopes that this reactionary change can create a ripple effect throughout the sports industry.

Katz sat down with Mike Walters in the studio to offer a unique perspective on the fight for women’s rights through a male prism.

Follow Jackson Katz on Twitter: @jacksontkatz