Internationally recognized educator and social activist Jackson Katz was at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School on Friday, speaking to the student body about sexism and gender violence.
Katz not only addressed these issues, but emphasized that it was time for young males to start standing up against issues such as sexual abuse against women.
“Isn’t your silence a form of consent and complicity?” Katz said, regarding the issues of sexism.
Katz began getting involved in activist groups against these gender and violence problems as a university student after realizing that many of his female peers didn’t feel safe because of the sexual violence that occurred on his school’s campus.
Katz stated that the earlier students are aware and active about these issues, “the better off we’re going to be.”
Katz used a pyramid diagram as an analogy to explain assault and prevention. The top was where assault was labelled, and the bottom was where prevention and action were. The point, Katz said, was that prevention and action were the base, and that it’s important to have that as a solid foundation.
Katz also showed a video clip at the end of his presentation after talking about how powerful social media, technology and communication are for spreading ideas.
Many students were attentive, engaged in the question and answer period, and appreciated what Katz had to say, including grade 11 student Nova Sarfi.
Although she agreed with the presentation and with the points Katz spoke, Sarfi described the reactions of several fellow students as “disappointing”.
“It just kind of shows how desensitized we are, and how nervous or embarrassed we are to even listen to something like this,” Sarfi said.
As someone who has personally experienced some of the issues that Katz addressed in the presentation, Sarfi said the message did matter to her, despite the apparent apathy of some in the crowd.
Sarfi notes that the way students see things is heavily influenced by what their peers think.
“A lot of them weren’t taking it in because they were sitting with their buddies.”