This video has been out for a bit, but I still think it is something that is important to discuss, and will continue to be important to discuss for quite sometime. Jackson Katz brings up a point that I think a lot of people who are close to domestic, sexual, and relationship violence, have muddled with over and over again: Why is this solely on me? Why is the perpetrator not even mentioned? Why are my actions/history being questioned? Notice where all the focus is not being directed?
He helps present some clarity to why this happens, but also addresses steps to fixing it, which seems to be a rarity as of late. He openly states how pervasive victim blaming is in our society. I know there are so many critics who hate that term, but I would like to ask, what else would you like to call it when someone is attacked, and then they are asked a plethora of questions to figure out what they were doing to attract this negative (violent) attention.
Katz made my day by using sentence structure to demonstrate how men are often erased from the discussion, and thus placing the responsibility on the victim. He writes out five sentences:
“John beat Mary”
“Mary was beaten by John”
“Mary was beaten”
“Mary was battered”
“Mary is a battered woman”
This reminds me of a poetry workshop, where a professor said, when you try to convey your message, make sure you are using the words effectively. If you can make a situation active, do so, by making it passive you take away some of the importance or shift the meaning behind what was intended. What Katz is writing is not poetry, but the same could be said here. With both our language, and the way we discuss things, we have changed John into an obsolete figure. By the time we get down to the end of the examples, we could ask, “John who?”
He also discusses the role institutions play in the overarching societal issue of sexual violence. I took a class on this, and the anecdotes were chilling and horrifying, especially when you read about the people who knew what was going on, and the pains that were taken to cover up these awful happenings. Wouldn’t it be easier and better for society as a whole if we held people accountable and changed the way we talk, examine, and deal with these tragedies?
Katz called the role institutions play, a “leadership problem”, which is quite genius. I am inclined to agree with him. There is a lack of leadership, of strong people in positions of power saying, “This is wrong.” Instead, we often they see them taking care of one another and trying to hide these horrible things that happen. It is apparent that they KNOW something is wrong, otherwise they would not go to the lengths they do in order to cover it up.
I like that he encourages us to work together to bring about change, and how he points out how our actions do indeed play an important role in the youths that witness these actions.
Overall, I think this was a wonderful piece, and hopefully it will inspire some people to lead.