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JANUARY 24, 2006, Taming the Macho Man | The tampa tribune

February 20, 2006, Violence All Men's Problem | The London Free Press

March 23, 2006, Shocked by recent headlines? These sex cases just grim reality | St. Paul Pioneer Press

April 12, 2006- Katz Challenges Men to Prevent Sexual Abuse | The Dartmouth


Published: Jan 24, 2006 - tHE TAMPA TRIBUNE

Taming The Macho Man
KARLA JACKSON kkjackson@tampatrib.com

TAMPA - If you believe what you see in movies and on television, a "real man" should have the muscles of Jose Canseco, the humility of Terrell Owens, the patience of Russell Crowe and the self-control of Danny Bonaduce.

Never mind that Canseco's muscles were the result of steroids; that Owens' ego has cost him more than $750,000 this season; that Crowe could have gone to prison for assaulting a hotel clerk; and that Bonaduce got drunk, threw temper tantrums and slashed his wrist during the filming of his "Breaking Bonaduce" reality show.

That's just what guys do, according to popular culture.

"Violent masculinity is a cultural norm in the United States. It's not aberrational behavior," says Jackson Katz, a feminist activist, educational video maker and author of "The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help" (Sourcebooks: $16.95).

Katz, 45, has been working since college to put an end to the cultural damage he believes is caused by the stereotype of the uber-macho male so prevalent in movies, television, music, video games and other forms of mass media.

He will be in Tampa on Feb. 2 to give a multimedia presentation on his theories at a benefit dinner for The Ophelia Project, a girls advocacy group.

Of course, most men don't advocate the dangerous hyper-masculinity so common in pop culture, Katz says. But too many of them dismiss its damaging effects or feel powerless to object to it, he says.

"If you say anything, you're accused of being a censor, or that you don't have a good sense of humor," he says. "But there are an awful lot of men out there who ... don't feel represented by this stuff, and those men don't have a voice."

Katz takes issue with people who say, "I watched violent movies and I don't kill people. I listen to Eminem and I don't cut up people and put them in my trunk."

They are missing the point, he says.

"It's not about imitation," says Katz, who, in 1982, was the first man to graduate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a minor in women's studies.

"The larger problem is that boys and men are growing up with innumerable images of men acting out in violent and abusive ways. It has the effect of normalizing the behavior. The more violence you see, the more normal it becomes, and the more desensitized you become."

He points to the rampant popularity of professional wrestling and celebrities such as Howard Stern as examples of how violence and misogyny have become acceptable to the public at large.

"Wrestling is like a cartoon world, where men are big brutes and women and girls are two-dimensional caricatures of human beings," says Katz, who produced an educational video, "Wrestling With Manhood: Boys, Bullying & Battering" in 2002.

He'll show examples of what he's talking about during his Tampa appearance.

"The level of domestic and sexual violence in professional wrestling is out of control," he says. "They'll claim it's all scripted and acting, but that's what makes it normative."

'Sexual Sadism'

One clip he'll show depicts the Bay area's Hulk Hogan holding a woman by the hair and making a fist as if he's going to punch her in the face.

"He's motioning to the audience as if asking them, 'Should I do it?' And they're cheering him on," Katz says.

Another clip shows Vince McMahon, founder and chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment, forcing a woman to strip down to her undergarments in order to earn his forgiveness for a perceived slight.

"It's like a forced strip show while the audience is cheering him on," Katz says. "Then he makes her bark like a dog. It's a form of sexual sadism, and this is on mainstream TV."

Wrestling fans argue that it's Katz who doesn't get it.

"I think the critics don't really understand [professional wrestling] and don't view it as the fans do," says Gary Davis, a spokesman for World Wrestling Entertainment. "It's a combination of soap opera, variety show, grand adventure and theater all rolled into one."

Fans "have an affinity with the stars, but that does not carry over into trying to play out the stories they watch on television in real life."

He dismisses Katz's assertion that televised wrestling makes violence and abuse seem like a normal part of everyday life.

"I think it's the total opposite," he says. "What probably has a greater bearing on how you treat women and how you look at violence is the environment you live in.

"The type of things we do in wrestling don't translate into what people are doing in real life. I don't see anybody being arrested for homicide by folding chair."

From Bogey To Arnold

On television and in the movies, Katz points out, the stereotypical "tough guy" image has become more threatening over time. He compares Humphrey Bogart and the small pistol he used in many movies to Arnold Schwarzenegger and the submachine gun he carries in the "Terminator" movies.

"Visually, they are ratcheting up what it takes to be menacing," Katz says. "Would young guys today be intimidated by Bogey with his little .38? I doubt it."

The fact that it takes more firepower and gore to get a reaction from kids is proof of what he's talking about, Katz says.

"Should [a boy] be able to walk into a movie theater and see people being killed in all kinds of brutal ways and not flinch or be squeamish? A lot of young guys will brag about being able to watch that stuff," says Katz, who has a 4-year-old son.

"What they're bragging about is the damage that has already been done to their psyche."

Those boys grow into men who don't feel empathy or compassion, and the cycle of violence escalates, he says.

Breaking the cycle will take decades of effort by men who aren't afraid to be called sissies because they speak out against violence.

"Social change is a messy process," Katz says. "We need more men with the guts to stand up and say abusive behavior is abusive behavior, and it's not right, and it doesn't make me less of a man to point that out."

Published on February 20, 2006 by The London Free Press, London, Ontario, Canada
Violence All Men´s Problem
by Ian Gillespie

I've always thought it wasn't my problem. I mean, I'm not a rapist. I don't beat my wife. I'm just a regular guy. So, when talk turns to sexism, misogyny and violence against women, I furrow my brow, nod my head and show concern.

But in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, "Some guys are jerks, but I can't help it."

Jackson Katz begs to differ. As far as he's concerned, I'm part of the problem.

"We need to set the bar a little higher for what it means to be a 'good guy,' " says the California-based activist. "Just saying, 'I'm not a rapist' doesn't quite get there."

Katz is one of the continent's leading experts on violence prevention. An all-state football player who grew up in Boston, Katz has created several award-winning videos, wrote a new book due out next month (The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help) and co-founded the Mentors in Violence program -- a large-scale attempt to enlist collegiate and professional athletes in the fight against violence against women.

If that's not enough, he also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

But according to Katz -- who is scheduled to talk about his ideas Monday at the London Convention Centre -- I'm the kind of guy who helps produce hundreds of thousands of abusive boys each year.

"Our participation in consumer culture has consequences," Katz says. "And men need to think critically about how our consumer dollars contribute to a system that reinforces sexist beliefs and attitudes."

Now, just a minute. I don't buy Hustler magazine and I don't rent pornographic videos.

Mind you, I'm not going to rush to change channels if one of those Victoria's Secret shows comes on or that Sports Illustrated swimsuit special.

And, hey -- did you catch Halle Berry in that James Bond flick on TV the other night? Wow, is she hot or . . . .

Ummm, OK.

But I'm a good dad. Why, just the other night my sons and I were watching a bit of WWE wrestling on TV and we just had to laugh when that buxom bimbo Victoria climbed into the ring and . . . Oops.

Somehow, I think this is what Katz is talking about.

Although Katz agrees today's young people are more informed about these issues than their parents were, he also argues there's more sexual violence than ever.

"There's a level of callousness and brutality that's entered the culture that was not around a generation ago," he says. "The coarsening of the mainstream media culture is implicated in some of the attitudes and behaviours we're seeing being played out by boys and men."

Katz recalls an incident during his high school days (I recall a similar one at my school) where some senior male students created huge cards depicting numbers 1 through 10, then graded female students walking past.

But now, he says, that type of degrading behaviour is a regular part of mainstream entertainment -- like Howard Stern's radio show.

Some, of course, will argue most listeners understand and appreciate the satiric nature of Stern's shows. Others will point out most young men who watch a film involving violent behaviour don't immediately go out and imitate it.

Katz says that's a simplistic argument.

"The larger effect is desensitization and normalization," he says, adding that for many young viewers the damage is already done.

"In my judgment, healthy human beings should not be able to watch, even in a fictional context, people brutalizing each other without thinking it's a problem."

In the end, he says, even "regular guys" like me have to share the blame.

"If you yourself are not abusive, but the men around you are and you don't challenge them, then your silence is complicity in their abuse," Katz says.

"I think we need a broader understanding of our responsibilities as men."

Copyright © 2006 The London Free Press

St. Paul Pioneer Press
Posted on Thu, Mar. 23, 2006

Shocked by recent headlines? These sex cases just grim reality

By Ruben Rosario

Let's get real here. People are shocked that a Roseville high school girl was blackmailed into giving oral sex to a male student and several classmates and friends. People also are shocked that a 16-year-old runaway in St. Paul was held captive against her will for weeks, beaten, locked in a closet and forced to prostitute until she escaped.

Disturbing? No doubt. Shocking? Come on now. These are just slight variations on an old theme that continues to spawn new predators and claim new victims.

Rent "Hardcore,'' a movie shot back in the day — 1979 — that stars the late George C. Scott and chronicles a desperate Midwest father's attempts to rescue his runaway daughter from the clutches of porn filmmakers and pimps in Hollywood. The "Minnesota Strip'' has long been a name associated with the naive young arrivals from the heartland who are preyed upon by pimps working the bus terminal depot in New York City's Times Square.

Check out your frequent high school and college sex scandals involving boys or young men drugging or running a "train'' — slang for gang rape — on defenseless girls and having the audacity to put the depravity on film. And these are just the ones that get reported or busted. Most don't.

Better yet, talk to local sex-crimes cops, social workers, child-protection investigators and others who deal with this filth daily here in the Land of 10,000 Broken Young Souls. In the past two years, the feds have sent nearly a million dollars to St. Paul cops and two nonprofits to deal with the local human-trafficking problem.

Spare me the apple-pie reactions to these latest cases. We should have moved way beyond shock by now.

"I believe the shock is there in the high school case because the offender is not a stranger, it's not a Level 3 sex offender, it's not an adult male wearing a trench coat — it's a high school student,'' says Nancy Sabin, executive director of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that addresses child sexual-abuse issues.

"But this happens quite often; oral sex has almost been diminished into a handshake,'' she adds. "The problem is that we are sending mixed messages to our boys and young men. They don't think what they are doing is wrong.''

She cites a recent study that estimated the amount of quality time parents spend on average with a child daily is 22 minutes. "Where do you think they are picking up that moral boundary?''

Well, mostly peers, the boob tube and an entertainment media and culture that are perhaps unprecedented in its objectification of females. It's no "shock" that perhaps the most profitable business on the Internet is the porn industry. This is not just a crime problem. This is an entrenched cultural mind-set.

Jackson Katz, a lecturer, former school jock and founder of Real Men, a Boston-based anti-sexist men's group, touches on this theme often in his soon-to-be-released book. "The Macho Paradox'' (Sourcebooks, 2006).

Katz writes: "But any serious attempt to help boys think through their decisions about how to treat girls has to examine those places in male culture where sexist and abusive behavior is presented as normal and masculine and even expected — and where there are no real consequences for hurting people, including Internet pornography."

He cites the hit movie "American Pie,'' whose central character arranges to videotape himself having sex with a Czech exchange student and broadcast it on the Internet to friends.

"When American Pie was released in 1999, critics hailed it as good clean fun,'' Katz writes. "Practically no one mentioned that one of the main plot points turned on the lead character's stumbling attempts to commit an unforgivably cruel and sexist act — the type of act that ruins lives when it happens in the real world."

Sabin hopes that the boys allegedly involved in the Roseville incident area are dealt with, but not just by the criminal justice system.

"This is an opportunity to intervene in the lives of young men who think this behavior is OK,'' she says.

The story broke the same night Sabin and Roseville police officials spoke at a community notification about a Level 3 sex offender moving into the suburb.

"The offender had unforced sex with minors,'' Sabin says. "I mentioned the (male student) and basically posed a question: Is he also not a sex offender? As long as we keep denying we have this problem — that it's just strangers and not kids like this — we won't be able to fix it.''

If we do ever get it, that would be shocking.

Rubén Rosario can be reached at rrosario@pioneerpress.com.


april 12, 2006 | The dartmouth
Katz challenges men to prevent sexual abuse
By Amanda Cohen, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Using a different approach to sexual violence prevention at "More Than a Few Good Men," a dinner discussion held in Collis Common Ground Tuesday evening, speaker Jackson Katz challenged men to tackle a problem that has historically and inaccurately, he attests, been designated as a women's issue. Unlike many other violence prevention programs, Katz's speech was geared toward men, and he labeled sexual abuse and domestic violence as very much a man's problem and focused on what men can do prevent their occurrence.

"The source of the problem is not women's and girls' behavior, its men's behavior. True prevention means going into male culture," said Katz, who founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention Program at Northeastern University.

Katz was careful not to accuse men of perpetrating sexual abuse and domestic violence, but instead emphasized the importance of having good men stand up.

"Just saying I'm not a rapist, just saying I don't beat my girlfriend, is not particularly impressive to me. We need so much more from men then what we've been getting on these issues," Katz said.

The mostly male audience was comprised largely of Dartmouth football players who were encouraged by Head Coach Buddy Teevens '79 to attend the event. Football player Julian Collins '08 appreciated Katz's assessment of the problem and suggestions to help.

"Instead of just teaching women what to do, he wants men to have an active role in it as well. It's a really good message," Collins said.

Katz began by exploring the root of the problem: the pressure on males to comply with misogynist behavior and the risks a man takes if he stands up for a woman when male friends express violent behavior. He asked the audience for the names that men use to describe other men who stand up for women's rights. Many of the terms listed threatened a man's masculinity or sexuality, which Katz looked at more closely to reveal the irony of the pattern.

"The implication here is that because we care about women, and girls -- our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our girlfriends and other women -- because we care about women, we must want to have sex with men," Katz said. "If a man must be gay to care about women, that means that heterosexual men must not care about women. Isn't that disturbing when you draw it out logically?"

Towards the end of the discussion, Katz showed video clips to emphasize how the media perpetuates the male-culture society, which he believes is at the base of male violence, including one which showed the increasing size of the male body through time. As male bodies grew more powerful, the ideal woman's body has become more frail, he said. Katz attributed this change to male overcompensation for the threat women pose in professional society.

"It's pretty true to show how manhood is evolving," Collins said. "[It makes you ask] where's it going to go…I thought it was really eye-opening."

Katz also spoke about using civic and personal responsibility as a way of preventing sexual violence.

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