Men and Boys this one’s for you! I just finished watching the TedTalk by Jackson Katz surrounding gender violence issues. What are gender violence issues exactly?: Sexual assault, domestic violence, relationship abuse, sexual harassment, violence toward children. A.K.A as topics that are icky to talk about for me mainly because they’re so dang controversial. Double Ick. Now hold on a minute don’t X out quite yet, especially you dudes out there! This post isn’t going to be about the ins and outs of the gender violence issues but rather how men often get left out of the conversations surrounding these issues.
When I first watched this TedTalk I was completely overwhelmed with everything Katz had to say because there was just SO MUCH INFORMATION. SO MUCH. In order to help the info digest better in my hungry brain cells I wrote down quotes, aha! moments, and “I can agree with that” points. They are written below in paragraph form as concisely as I could make sense of them. You could also watch the TedTalk! In fact you probably should because I can hear your brain’s cells grumbling from here. Feed them!
Brain Relations: Gender violence issues have been seen as women’s issues because something in the human brain trigger “gender” to mean “women” the same way “sexual orientation” triggers us to think “gay”. Pesky brain. Somehow our brains take these labels steers them down a path to the least-dominant group (in our case, women). In these examples, the dominant group (for the sake of this post, men) is often left out of the conversations. Katz doesn’t see these gender issues as solely “women’s issues that some good men help out with but rather these are men’s issues first and foremost.”
Commonalities: What people forget is boys are affected by the men in their lives, who boys sees as their role model, harming his mother, sister, or another female in the home. He’s traumatized. Yet we as a society turn our heads to the young boy because we focus on the women who were abused in the situation not on the psychological health of the boy who was the witness to the abuse. What’s going on with these boys, why are we forgetting about them?
So to those people that are bashing the female leaders for taking a stand on gender issues and labeling the movement as anti-male you’re a little loco senor(ita). In gender violence instances both men and women are victims. That’s our commonality. This isn’t just a you issue it’s a we issue.
“The same system that produces men who abuse women, produces men who abuse other men,” said Katz. (see the daily evening news for evidence) A vicious cycle.
Societal Roles: As we all know several things play into how we as humans, as a culture, behave, and interact but for men a lot of these roles are defined by race, religion, media, family life, economics, sports, and peer-to-peer interaction also known as pressure. These “roles” define how men should behave in our society and being all gunho about something that has been labeled (again by society errr our brains) as women’s issues is to just not say anything, do not pass go do not collection $200. But you see guys this is the key problemo and a question I want to present is…How can men change manhood as its defined by society?
The simple answer and probably one that may shock you,: GET MEN INVOLVED.
Because as a wise man by the name of Martin Luther King, Jr once said, “In the end its not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends that hurt the most.”
The Bystander Approach: So men (and women) it’s time to take on Katz’s Bystander Approach which is sure to adjust the peer-to-peer climate to be a cozier and not so brash. Cue the warm fuzzies.
In order to exercise this approach you can’t be the perpetrator or the victim just an observer.
Mr. Jackassery (maybe you’ve heard of him?): “If you wear a size XL you’re not only too big for our clothing but your also not cool.”
You: “That isn’t very nice of you to say because times have changed Mr. Jackassery and your form of marketing is also known from where I come from as bullying.”
Rude Dude: “Hey did you see what that kid in our English class was wearing today? He looked so gay.”
You: “Hey that’s not funny, man. ” (and if you’re really feeling feisty) “You shouldn’t be calling people those names, dude.”
Gossip Gal: “I can’t believe she wore that to school, what a skank.”
You: “Seriously? Stop it. She can dress however she wants. Just drop it.”
What didn’t You do in these scenarios?
You didn’t giggle or laugh, You didn’t entertain their comments further but You also weren’t silent. Silence is often louder than violence because silence = consent. And by giving silent consent You run the risk of having Mr. Jackassery, Rude Dude and Gossip Gal continue with the crude comments. Way to stand up You! Go You!
Today’s takeaway to shattering stereotypes:
It’s time for men to break the societal norms and stand up for other men and boys who are, in fact, facing gender issues. Set aside your pride and join with the fierce females who are tackling these issues head-on and enlighten them too! Don’t just be a bystander, aim to be a do-stander, your sons and daughters will thank you. I thank you! Now tell me…
Have you ever had to deal with these awkward turtles of conversations?! Set the scene in the comments and explain what You did to dodge it like a ninja!