Speaker Review: Jackson Katz
Back in September, I had the privilege of seeing Jackson Katz speak at one of the colleges in my consortium. The author of both 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 a leading voice in the war against sexism and gender based violence.
You may also be familiar with him due to his recent Ted talk, “Violence Against Women- It’s a Men’s Issue”:
or his 2000 documentary “Tough Guise”:
I was incredibly excited to hear him speak and he certainly did not disappoint.
Katz’s talk was so edifying. He started by explaining that the current way most people view feminism and violence against women is as “women’s issues that good men help out with” compared to “men’s issues”. Katz said that men “hear humans rights or social justice and think, it’s not a men’s issue” This is something I have absolutely experienced first hand. Working with both young women and young men, I see the differences in services offered. There are countless services aimed at protecting and educating young girls about the dangers of abusive relationships, yet nearly none aimed at educating men about how not to be abusers. Statistically speaking, we know women are dramatically more often on the receiving end of abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women.
When I helped to put on a Young Women’s Empowerment conference in December, we easily found multiple women to present on healthy relationships. Yet when it came time for the men’s conference months later, we had trouble finding one male speaker to talk about healthy relationships. Most men and male lead agencies were baffled by our request. Why were only women stepping up? Jackson Katz answered this question by explaining the way we as society talk about these issues. He noted that we often talk about women as survivors, but never men as perpetrators. You often see statistics saying how many women experience abuse or rape, but rarely see statistics saying how many men commit abuse or rape.
Additionally, he talked about the changing language used to talk about sexual assault. He charted the change from calling a woman in a sexual assault case a victim to an alleged victim to now often, an accuser. Calling these women an “accuser”, Katz noted, makes it so now the man is the victim, being that he is the victim of her accusation of sexual violence. Katz said this is all a part of a major problem of shifting the focus off of men. He said that it is often easier to blame victims than hold perpetrators accountable.
He also noted that men’s defensiveness about these issues shuts down critical thinking, forcing women to retreat. Impressively though, Katz noted that it was unfair of him to tell women what to do, due to his male privilege and how that would only be replicating our sexist power structure. Rather than telling women to do more, Katz puts it on himself and uses his privilege to talk to men as a way of directly tackling this problem.
He’s spoken to largely male groups including the NFL, NBA, and the Marines, and it hasn’t always turned out well for him. He jokingly told the audience how his work to end sexism has earned him the nickname “Dr. Katz-strated” by many angry misogynists. Additionally, Katz noted that when men defensively bring up the rates of violence against men as a way to shut down conversations about violence against women, they are forgetting that statistically almost always the people attacking men are other men. And Katz said for the same reason men attack men. It’s all about masculinity. Much of Katz’s work looks into deconstructing hegemonic masculinity, and the way popular masculinity profoundly damages both genders.
I would highly suggest reading or watching his works listed earlier if you’d like to learn more about this specifically. In the talk I attended though, he focused less on masculinity, but did mention how porn and peer culture shape social norms, and drive popular masculinity. He also said that we really need to raise the bar a little higher for what it takes to be a “good guy” in today’s society, which I certainly agreed with. I have so many times heard girls say how “impressive” or “attractive” it is when guys know what consent it or are against rape. That shouldn’t be impressive, it should be the bare minimum for being a human being!
Part of what drives Katz to do this work he said, is the importance and necessity he feels reaching out to men, as a man, is to ending violence against women. He urged moving away from just teaching “risk reduction” for women and instead focusing on truly preventing this violence and inequality, which means getting to the root of the problem.
Katz also made an interesting point saying that you can see in certain examples how society hasn’t come as far with sexism as it has with other issues, like racism. I do think talking about such things can be tricky, because racism is still a huge issue, but I thought Katz made a good point saying that Eminem would not be allowed to be racist. If he said the n-word, his career would be over. However, people make excuses constantly for his blatant misogyny, even when he talks about wanting to murder his ex-wife.
It was fascinating food for thought. Katz ended his talk saying “it’s not that we need to talk to our daughters about Miley Cyrus, we need to talk to our sons about Robin Thicke”, which was truly fitting given how close his talk was to their infamous VMA performance.
I can’t stress enough how much I encourage men (and women) to check out Jackson Katz and the work he does. The world needs more men like him, using their privilege to end violence against women. Because it’s not just a female issue, it’s a male issue too and men need to be held accountable.
And how hard is it to land even a minimum-wage job? This year, the Ivy League college admissions acceptance rate was 8.9%. Last year, when Walmart opened its first store in Washington, D.C., there were more than 23,000 applications for 600 jobs, which resulted in an acceptance rate of 2.6%, making the big box store about twice as selective as Harvard and five times as choosy as Cornell. Telling unemployed people to get off their couches (or out of the cars they live in or the shelters where they sleep) and get a job makes as much sense as telling them to go study at Harvard.
I was walking around alone in a new shirt and the bottom half of my costume- no wig or corset- when a much older dude walked up to me and asked to take a picture. I laughed and started to explain that this wasn’t actually a costume, that as a human being, I got sweaty and rashy wearing a corset for the last 8 hours and changed into something more comfortable, but he took that as a “yes” and pulled out his phone. He put his arm around my waist and whispered “I only come here for the pictures of the girls,” to me as he snapped a selfie of us. Then he grabbed a handful of my butt and walked away. I’m gonna fucking murder myself!
[TW: Sexual Assault, rape culture, victim blaming]
His lips crushed mine, stopping my protest. He kissed me angrily, roughly, his other hand gripping tight around the back of my neck, making escape impossible. I shoved against his chest with all my strength, but he didn’t even seem to notice. His mouth was soft, despite the anger, his lips molding to mine in a warm, unfamiliar way.
I grabbed at his face, trying to push it away, failing again. He seemed to notice this time, though, and it aggravated him. His lips forced mine open, and I could feel his hot breath in my mouth.
Acting on instinct, I let my hands drop to my side, and shut down. I opened my eyes and didn’t fight, didn’t feel… just waited for him to stop.
Twilight: Eclipse p. 331 (Bella and Jacob’s first kiss)
This is rape culture.
Young women are taught to think of this passage - which describes sexual assault - as erotic. Young men are taught to force their will on young women, regardless of any (non)verbal cues, because sex is conquest and women are objects - not something to be done between two consenting individuals because it’s pleasurable for both people.
The most frightening thing about this excerpt is that many survivors of sexual assault who have disclosed to me describe stories that sound exactly like this one.
tumblr user clockward submitted this to us. read at your leisure.
The lines before that:
He still had my chin—his fingers holding too tight, till it hurt—and I saw the resolve form abruptly in his eyes.
“N—-” I started to object, but it was too late.
And after he assaulted her she punched him in the face but due to his “super human strength” she broke her hand, said “Don’t touch me!” and then:
“Just let me drive you home,” Jacob insisted. Unbelievably, he had the nerve to wrap his arm around my waist.
I jerked away from him.
When he got in the driver’s side, he was whistling.
AND THEN while he was driving:
“…There is so much I can give you that he can’t. I’ll bet he couldn’t even kiss you like that—-because he would hurt you. I would never, never hurt you, Bella.”
I held up my injured hand.
He sighed. “That wasn’t my fault. You should have known better.”
He grinned over at me. “You kissed me back.”
I gasped, unthinkingly balling my hands up into fists again, hissing when my broken hand reacted.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“I did not.”
“I think I can tell the difference.”
“Obviously you can’t——that was not kissing back, that was trying to get you the hell off me, you idi*t.”
He laughed a low, throaty laugh. “Touchy. Almost overly defensive, I would say.
I took a deep breath. There was no point in arguing with him; he would twist anything I said.
Then when she gets home, to where her father, Charlie, the police officer, is:
“Why did she hit you?”
“Because I kissed her,” Jacob said, unashamed.
“Good for you, kid,” Charlie congratulated him.
I didn’t read the citation first. I read the quote. I thought I was reading a woman’s account of how she was about to be raped, not a fucking passage from a romance novel.
This is astonishing. And I am almost never astonished by rape culture anymore.
"oh my god stop criticizing young girls who like 50 Shades of Gray or Twilight you can’t tell them what they can and can’t read"
no we can’t but we have to protect young girls from mistaking abusive behavior for genuine affection at all costs
On Running Errands
It was an entirely typical Friday afternoon and I had to run some errands, namely grocery shopping. My grocer of choice is Trader Joe’s because they have hummus so delicious I could eat an entire tub of it plain if I lacked self-control.
The closest Trader Joe’s is a little ways from my house, but it’s worth it to me for the reasonable prices and high quality food. I put on minimal make up and an airy, shapeless summer dress and headed out.
I’d like to pause here to note why I say what I’m wearing. It’s not important at all what I was wearing or how my make up was done in any real sense. I only state it because any time I talk about a creeper experience, what I was wearing and how I looked gets brought up, as if it is an explanation of some sort. I note what I’m wearing here in an attempt to drive home the point that women get harassed in every different type of outfit. I have been hit on when I’ve been dressed to the 9’s and when I’ve been wearing no make up and shapeless, floor length dresses. What I’m wearing doesn’t matter and does not ever put me or anyone else at fault for the inappropriate actions of others.
I drive to Trader Joe’s playing an old mix CD and get lost in thought. As I am about to turn, I see a shirtless, baseball hat clad gentlemen who looked about 25 staring at me from outside his car. He sticks his torso out to get a better look at me and nods and smiles, making sure I know he is looking. I lower my acceleration so that my car will not end up next to him and eventually switch lanes to avoid him.
I arrive at Trader Joe’s without any other such instances. I buy my groceries and head to my car. A man who looks to be in his early 30’s is standing next to my car. I look at him confused as I fumble with my keys and my grocery bag and he laughs and says “sorry”, while staying put next to my car. I load my groceries in my trunk and when I look up he is still there, staring, standing next to my car, not saying anything.
At first I thought he was maybe trying to walk past my car or something but happened to have awkward timing and wanted to let me load my groceries first, but he’s clearly staying put. As I’m about to enter my car, he corners me next to it and asks, awkwardly, how to get to the 22 freeway. I tell him I don’t live nearby, so the way I know to get to it might be out of his way, but he eagerly tells me that’s fine. I assume he’s just really awkward and maybe feels embarrassed needing to ask for directions. I explain to him how to get on the freeway, and finally he moves aside so I can get in my car.
I close the door and put my seatbelt on and he is still standing there; he hasn’t moved at all. I am about to back out of my parking spot when he motions for me to roll down my window. I comply assuming he needs more clarifications on his directions. He puts his face close to mine and says to me, with a smile
“You’re very beautiful, you know”
NOPE. NOPE. NOPE NOPE.
I loudly start my car and drive out of the parking lot as quickly as I can. As I leave the shopping center, I see him walking away, shaking his head, looking baffled and confused. As if he actually expected his manipulative pick up to work.
I wanted to share this short story to give a glimpse of what myself, and countless other women, experience just about any time we leave the house. If we want to run a quick errand, we have to deal with many instances like this. It’s all too common for me to experience some type of harassment any time I leave my home, whether it’s a cat call from a car when I’m biking, a threatening interaction in a parking lot, or staring and pointing from a car. Every time I leave my house, I wonder what will happen this time, and just hope I can get home safe. It’s not fun feeling like a target every time you leave your house and I hope more men consider how they make women feel when they behave in such manipulative and threatening ways.
"Sometimes I just have to tell myself the thing that is definitely true, the truest thing I can say, which is.. I don’t know. I don’t know.”
I just loved Hank’s recent video so much that I have to make a thing.
Risa works fast!
Broad City, s01e01-04
Broad City matters. It matters a lot. It matters not just because it’s a show created by, lead by, produced by women. It matters, most importantly, because it’s a beautiful and true example of a female friendship.
That hard to explain, over sharing, messy in front of each other, sharing the stupid thoughts kind of closeness is on public display here: and it’s fucking beautiful.
What I’m trying to say is, Abbi and Ilana debating whether they’d rather have Michael Buble or Janet Jackson go down on them is just about the only conversation on television today that I can imagine having with my friends, and it’s incredibly refreshing. [x]
Instead of a million cheap jokes about masturbation that are meant to be titillating to whatever geriatric boob is watching (I’m looking at you Two Broke Girls), sexuality is real and too much or too little or casual in that postmodern way it is. Weed makes mornings better, bosses don’t know what they’re doing, money is tight, and neighbor dudes are daydream stars.
It’s Workaholics starring women.
And Workaholics starring women is really really important.
Female comedy awareness has skyrocketed since Twitter became ‘a thing,’ with many of the most followed comedy accounts belonging to female writers. Bridesmaids ushered in a new era of ensemble female comedy and female physical comics are getting starring roles: Kaitlin Olson, Melissa McCarthy, and Zooey Deschanel inheriting crowns.
It’s okay to be a dork, a loser, pretty, ungraceful, unambitious, sexy, flippant, imperfect, or anything.
Broad City is going to draw a lot of comparisons, mostly to Girls. But let’s set the record straight: one is a comedy in the Greek sense, the other is a straight comedy with teeth. One is a pessimistic view with shades of optimism, the other is an optimistic view with shades of pessimism.
They exist in different New Yorks—they are practically on different planets—but most of all one makes the girls and their lives the joke and the other makes the world around the girls a joke which in turn makes you forget that they’re ‘girls.’
They’re just two friends against the world.
By doing that, Broad City gets the liberty to embellish on sketchy Craigslist money schemes and carrying weed on the subway in the ‘vayainya’—”natures pocket”—or how reaching a packaging distribution center is like crossing over into the Twilight Zone.
The A.V. Club states it nicely here:
So far, everything onthe show has stayed largely rooted in reality…but really, all the bits have looked like exaggerations of stories you’d hear from your most uninhibited friend. [“Working Girls,” episode 4] is a sign of how Broad City is apparently unafraid to go bigger. [x]
It’s just city life, starring young women who don’t shit on each other, and it’s not perfect but it’s getting there.
And that really really matters.