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Violence against women: Why it’s a men’s issue

Here’s an uncomfortable truth: 99 percent of rape is perpetrated by men.

Sexual assault, domestic violence, relationship abuse, sexual abuse towards children — all rampant and heinous acts mostly committed by men.

It’s no wonder why we never think of “gender violence issues” as men’s issues, too.

But think about it for a minute.

It is. Absolutely.

In fact, thinking that these problems are only a women’s issue is a big part of the problem.

Why?

“It gives men an excuse not to pay attention.”

In this blunt and powerful TED talk, Jackson Katz, internationally-recognized educator on violence prevention among boys and men, argues why we should change the way we look at violence against women. And why it is, first and foremost, a men’s issue.

The root of the problem is language

“A lot of men hear the term ‘women’s issues’ and we tend to tune it out, and we think, ‘I’m a guy; that’s for the girls,’ or ‘that’s for the women.’ And a lot of men literally don’t get beyond the first sentence as a result.

“It’s almost like a chip in our brain is activated, and the neural pathways take our attention in a different direction when we hear the term ‘women’s issues.’ This is also true, by the way, of the word ‘gender,’ because a lot of people hear the word ‘gender’ and they think it means ‘women.’ So they think that gender issues is synonymous with women’s issues. There’s some confusion about the term gender.”

Never underestimate the power names or words give.

It’s much the same when talking about race, people tend to think African-American. When you say “sexual orientation,” you think gay. As if white people don’t belong to a race or a construct of it. As if straight people don’t have a sexual orientation.

When people think of “gender” they think of women.

And when you categorize violence against women as a “gender’s issue,” you automatically remove men from the narrative.

Before anything else, we have to change our language on these issues.

We need to ask different questions

Anyone who has been abused or anyone who works in this field knows that victim-blaming runs rampant.

Victims get asked questions like, why do they go out with these men? Why are they attracted to them? Why do they keep going back?

More than anything, this comes across as blaming the victims instead of the person who did the crimes.

We need to ask different questions for this to change.

“The questions are not about Mary, they’re about John. They include things like, why does John beat Mary? Why is domestic violence still a big problem in the US and all over the world? What’s going on? Why do so many men abuse physically, emotionally, verbally, and other ways, the women and girls, and the men and boys, that they claim to love? What’s going on with men?”

It’s naive to think this is happening because of one reason only

Most importantly, this is not a problem caused by an individual perpetrator.

“So the question is, what are we doing here in our society and in the world? What are the roles of various institutions in helping to produce abusive men? What’s the role of religious belief systems, the sports culture, the pornography culture, the family structure, economics, and how that intersects, and race and ethnicity and how that intersects? How does all this work?”

Once we start asking these questions, we can all collectively figure out actionable steps to fix this dilemma.

We are doing something wrong in our society. We are sending the wrong message to men and boys. And we need to figure out a way to make this right if we want to put an end to violence against women.

“By the way, we owe it to women. There’s no question about it. But we also owe it to our sons. We also owe it to young men who are growing up all over the world in situations where they didn’t make the choice to be a man in a culture that tells them that manhood is a certain way. They didn’t make the choice. We that have a choice, have an opportunity and a responsibility to them as well.”


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Written by Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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