Author and activist Jackson Katz advised men on their roles in stopping sexual assault during his talk Thursday called “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and Why All Men Can Help.”
Katz, a violence prevention activist and renowned author, spoke as the Sexual Assault Awareness Month keynote speaker for Promoting Awareness | Victim Empowerment and “We’re Better Than That” - Men Against Sexual Assault’s event.
Katz emphasized that the perspective of sexual assault is shifting. He said he believes these are men’s issues, and not solely women’s.
“We need more men who are willing to take some of the pressure off of women, and who are willing to take some of the heat that some of these women get unfairly,” Katz said.
Katz also discussed how men’s lives have improved because of feminist women’s leadership.
“Women’s leadership has made all of the things that have been happening in the last several decades, in terms of transforming our cultural conversation,” Katz said. “Nothing like rape crisis centers existed until strong, smart, courageous women, with some male allies, built it.”
The language used while discussing sexual assault may be confusing, according to the speaker. The controversy between calling people affected by assault “victims” or “alleged victims” is an issue frequently discussed among journalists and support systems. The term “accuser” is more often used, which Katz said is a step in the wrong direction.
“It’s how power functions,” Katz said. “One of the challenges for those of us who want to shift the paradigm, it’s a struggle because the very language we use to conceptualize the world is, itself, stuck in the paradigm.”
Katz promoted his ideas of men using leadership to put a stop to sexual assault. He described his program called the “bystander approach” that involves using individuals around perpetrators and victims.
“There’s all kinds of ways that men and women need to figure out that within their peer culture they can be a person of integrity who doesn’t tolerate abusive behavior or language and not just intervening at the point of attack,” Katz said.