Thursday, June 12, 2008

In Honor of Father's Day

RH Reality Check recently posted a piece about Jackson Katz, an well-known writer and educator on the topic of gender violence prevention among men and boys. In the piece, Katz discusses why he feels that violence against women should be reframed as a men's issue. Katz argues that labeling violence against women a "women's issue" or even a "gender issue" (which he believes is automatically synonymous with "women's issue" for many people) encourages men to view the issue as irrelevant to their lives and "gives them an excuse to not pay attention."
Another reason why Katz has a problem with people using women's issues to describe violence against women is the issue of perpetration and who is responsible for perpetrating these acts. "Take rape for example," said Katz. "Over 99 percent of rape is perpetrated by men, but it's a women's issue?"
As a further example of this thinking, Katz uses commonly implemented "rape prevention" courses held at universities across the country. Katz argues that these courses are useful information for women in order to practice "risk reduction," but because they do not address men, they are not effective as prevention.

"If a woman has done everything in her power to reduce her risk, then a man who has the proclivity for abuse or need for power will just move on to another woman or target," Katz added. "It's about the guy and his need to assert his power. And it's not just individual men, it's a cultural problem. Our culture is producing violent men, and violence against women has become institutionalized. We need to take a step back and examine the institutionalized polices drafted by men that perpetuate the problem."
This is also the thinking that drives Men Stopping Violence, a locally headquartered organization dedicated to ending men's violence against women. MSV is a national leader in the violence against women's movement who works locally and nationally to dismantle belief systems, social structures, and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men themselves. MSV has been a long-time partner of Women's Resource Center and a regular sponsor of our own Father's Day campaign "It Takes a Man to End Domestic Violence" (found in the "For Men" section of our website.)

In this campaign, we ask men to take a public stance against domestic violence by making a restorative financial contribution to support to women and children affected by abuse. We then include each contributor's name in an advertisement in the Father's Day Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the heading:
In commemoration of Father’s Day, the men of Atlanta have united to promote peace in every home. If you think that domestic violence does not affect you or that you cannot make a difference in stopping domestic violence, these men ask that you think of your mothers, sisters and daughters. Domestic violence affects us all, and you can make a difference. The men listed below proudly state that they will not tolerate domestic violence.
We hope that men will see other men whom they know and respect taking a public stance against domestic violence, and that it will influence them to examine the violent tendencies in their own lives. Please look for our ad in the AJC this Sunday, and thank you to all who participated.

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