Young men's important leadership role in fighting against violence against women

Adriana Greenblatt
Posted March 27, 2016 from Canada

A great TED talk by anti-sexist educator Jackson Katz on young men's leadership to change attitudes regarding violence against women. This is a video I have used before in the classroom to discuss male violence against women on college campuses. This video is featured on a fabulous faceboook page that features empowering messages and resources for young women called "A Mighty Girl."

I am pasting the description of the talk here and the link to the Mighty Girl description below!

Anti-sexist educator and activist Jackson Katz wants people to look at: “that whole range of issues that are referred to in shorthand as gender violence issues” in a new way: “they’ve been seen as women’s issues that some good men help out with, but I have a problem with that frame and I don’t accept it.” Instead, he says in his excellent TED talk, “I’m going to argue that these are men’s issues first and foremost.”

He argues that “calling gender violence a women’s issue is part of the problem.” Katz uses an analysis by feminist linguist Julia Penelope to show how changing the description changes the tone of the discussion: Start with “‘John beat Mary’.... the second sentence says the same thing in a passive voice, ‘Mary was beaten by John,’ and now a whole lot has happened in one sentence... We’ve shifted our focus in one sentence from John to Mary.” And when the focus shifts further, you get “‘Mary was beaten’, and now it’s all about Mary; we’re not even thinking about John... and the final sentence in the sequence, flowing from the others, is ‘Mary is a battered woman’... [and] John has long ago left the conversation.” Katz, who is the creator of Mentors in Violence Prevention, a leadership program focused on preventing all forms of men’s violence against women, says, “those of us who work in the domestic and sexual violence field know that victim blaming is pervasive in this realm... but in terms of preventing violence, we have to ask a different set of questions... like why does John beat Mary, why is domestic violence still a big problem in the United States and all over the world.” Once we’re thinking in this way, “then we can ask about... how can we do something differently, how can we change the practices, how can we change the socialization of boys and the definitions of manhood that lead to these current outcomes.” Katz asserts that there are “powerful roles that men can play in this work" and he calls on his fellow men to put aside the notion of a gender war and stand side-by-side with women: “We live in the world together... [we need] to get people to speak up and to create a peer culture where the abusive behavior will be unacceptable not because it’s illegal, but because it’s wrong and unacceptable in the peer culture.” He says, “there’s been an awful lot of silence in male culture about this ongoing tragedy... we need to break that silence, and we need more men to do that.” And so Katz concludes, “I hope that, going forward, men and women working together can begin the change and the transformation that will happen so that future generations won’t have the level of tragedy that we deal with on a daily basis... I know we can do it. We can do better.” You can watch his excellent TED talk "Violence against women — it's a men's issue," at To read more from Jackson Katz, check out his book "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and and How All Men Can Help" at At A Mighty Girl, we believe that introducing boys to female role models is an important part of the process of fostering respect for girls and women. To find nearly 500 true stories of trailblazing women to share with your children, visit our "Role Model" biography collection at For books to help your Mighty Girl learn how to build supportive, mutually respectful relationships -- as well as how to recognize and end unhealthy ones -- check out our blog post, "20 Mighty Girl Books for Tweens & Teens About Healthy Relationships," at For an excellent resource for older teens and adults, we highly recommend "Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" at If you’re a parent concerned that your daughter may be in an unhealthy relationship, check out the books “But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Relationships” ( and “Saving Beauty From The Beast: How to Protect Your Daughter from an Unhealthy Relationship” ( And, for stories of girls and women experiencing and overcoming abuse and violence in their lives -- which offer a helpful way to talk to young people about the widespread problem of violence against women -- visit our “Abuse & Violence" book section at

Comments 2

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Mar 28, 2016
Mar 28, 2016

Hello Adriana,

Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post regarding violence against women! I really liked how you turned the tables around and focused on how men can also be essential to combatting this human rights abuse. It was extremely thought-provoking to read about the different angles that can be taken on when discussing a case of abuse targeting women. We never really stop to think about why domestic violence happens, but instead, we focus on the victim. There must definitely be an alteration in the way boys are socialized in order to avoid such atrocious, almost unspeakable outcomes, but like you said, one of the most vital notions is to have influential male role models in the media. These male role models who take a stand against violence, and stand by women to prevent more tensions between sexes. I completely agree with the fact that there is much silence from the men in our global community on the issue at hand. I believe it would be most effective for as many male as female role models to be leading and paving the way towards a better world, rather than having one sex leaning heavily towards a solution. 

We are our own instruments of change.

With kindest regards,

Helen Ng

Adriana Greenblatt
Mar 30, 2016
Mar 30, 2016

Yes Helen!  I am glad you found this resource useful.  It's not easy to think about how to engage men and boys in this issue.  I think that this speaker might resonate with some of them more than we can at times so this is powerful. 

Take care!