Onus on men to end violence against women

Dr. Jackson Katz says it
Dr. Jackson Katz says it's wrong to view male violence toward women as strictly a women's issue.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Violence against women is a men's issue and the onus falls on men to stop it from happening, according to Dr. Jackson Katz.

Katz is a leading North American gender violence educator. A large part of his work focuses on trying to shift society's thinking about gender violence — which includes sexual assault, relationship abuse and sexual harassment.

"People tend to think of (forms of gender violence) as women's issues that some 'good men' help out with," says Katz.

"By framing sexual assault and domestic violence women's issues it puts the onus of responsibility on women, and yet the ones who are committing the vast majority of the abuse and the violence are men and male-dominated systems.

"Calling it a women's issue has the effect of shifting the onus of responsibility off the shoulders of men, especially powerful men, and putting it onto the shoulders of women, and this is not fair — it just reproduces the same unequal, unfair system."

"The only way we are going to really have dramatic change in the levels of gender violence in the world … is if we understand that this violence is rooted in cultural ideologies of manhood and how we socialize boys — and until that changes, we're just cleaning up after the fact."

Katz, who is an educator, author and documentary filmmaker, will give a multi-media presentation called The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School. All are welcome and admission is free.

He will also speak Friday from 7 to 8:30 a.m. in the upper level of the Florence Filberg Centre. This presentation is called Men's Leadership in Preventing Violence: Breakfast with the Guys and admission is $5, which includes a full breakfast.

Tickets are available at Laughing Oyster Bookshop or by calling the Community Justice Centre (250-334-8101) until noon Tuesday.

As the name suggests, this presentation is aimed at men in community leadership positions because, says Katz, gender violence is a men's leadership issue.

"Men who have positions of influence and leadership need ... to know about these issues," says Katz. "And then to figure out how they can use whatever platform of influence they have to create a climate where it's not acceptable and where it doesn't happen — not because they're 'nice guys helping out' but because that's part of their responsibility as men in North American society in the 21st century."

Katz's visit to the Valley falls within National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, which is also the first week of the annual two-week Comox Valley Purple Ribbon campaign, urging the community to take a stand against domestic violence. The Comox Valley Transition Society, which spearheads the Purple Ribbon Campaign, is one of many Valley organizations that partnered to bring Katz here.

Transition society executive director Heather Ney says she first heard Katz speak a few years ago and his message ties in well with the campaign.

"It's certainly something we've been messaging through the Purple Ribbon Campaign over the past four years, is encouraging men to stand up or take a stand, or in his words, 'to be more than a bystander' when they witness or are aware of violence," says Ney, noting this will be Katz's first visit to the Valley.

For more information about Dr. Jackson Katz, visit


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