There is a TEDx FiDi Women segment that was taught by Jackson Katz, Ph.D. a man who trains men on leadership. In his presentation, he breaks down the elements of dialogue or sequence of reasoning that is often used when discussing violence against women. I think you’ll find it interesting.
Sequence of reasoning violence against women:
John beat Mary.
Mary was beaten by John.
Mary was beaten.
Mary was battered.
Mary is a battered woman.
So…what happened to John?
He argues: this isn’t a woman’s issue. It’s a man’s issue. When we hear that it’s a gender issue, we tune in to it being a female issue. This too often creates a lack of introspection in men. Men are erased by a subject they are a part of. Calling it a women’s issue conspires to keep our attention off of men.
Sadly, societally women see it as woman’s issue, too, so we stand up for ourselves. This is great. But the effect is often watered down by men and women who consider that defending our honor makes a woman, “unforgiving,”” angry,” “a feminazi,” “sensitive,” “humorless,” “a man hater,” “defensive,” “militant,” “insecure,” and “power hungry.” Just to name a few. Of course there are many other titles that are not fit for print.
What’s the result if men stand up for women who are abused? They are called names certainly, but there is a deeper power to their voice. What we have, too, is a grassroots rebellion against the status quo that can be more effective.
We have a grassroots movement to change the mainstream and prejudice understanding that “all” men are OK with putting women down.
Dr.Katz argues as well that, in the end, violence against women is a male issue, too. Not only because there are lasting results for men in marriage if his wife has been hurt, but because there are little boys who are exposed to abuse when their mother or sister is getting hurt. What about the boys who have been traumatized? Male victims of violence and sexual trauma exist. So it is not a woman’s issue it is a plight all will suffer if nothing is done about it.
There is a powerful role of men to solve the rhetoric against women. Men who aren’t abusive can interrupt men who are being crass, crude and speak up saying it is wrong and unacceptable. We need leadership training for the men who do not agree with abusing women.
As a mother of boys, I need to teach my children that they are not to discredit something because it is feminine. Believe me, it starts in kindergarten. The other day, I had to say, “Just because it’s pink doesn’t mean girls like it. If girls like pink, it is no less a good thing. Girls are equal, not less than. I don’t want to hear you talk like that about something being ‘girly’ again. There will be consequences next time.” I cannot think of a time their father has made a derogatory comment about women and STILL my boys are exposed to it.
Dr. Katz says that adult men with power need to start prioritizing these issues. Men don’t need sensitivity training, they need leadership training; and hence, his mission.
Our whole cognitive structure is victim blaming: Why does John beat Mary? That’s the question we need to ask. Why do so many adult men sexually abuse children? Why do so many adult men rape women? What is the role of our various institutions in creating these men?
At Last Battle, we are standing up for men who are victimized by men. We are standing up for men and with men who reject their males friends’ grievous disrespect for the women in their lives. We are with you as you go to battle and rise up to secure your sisters, mothers, daughters and wives in the truth of their value. In the end we belong to the same body of humanity.
“In the end what will hurt the most are not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
—Martin Luther King
Last Battle befriends you in your strident courage to respect the respectful and to honor the honorable in women and men.
Men, every time you are courageous in rebelling against disrespectful stereotypes you are giving the body of humanity a complex assortment of the vitamins it needs to perform life together.
We thank you and will pray for your courage to result in manifold blessing.
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.