Violence and Silence. The TED Talk That Might Make Every Man a Feminist.

Here is a talk by Jackson Katz, Ph.D at TEDxFIDIWoman that has been quickly making the rounds. Because it’s great. It’s being called, “the TED talk that might make every man a feminist” and I agree.

I highly encourage you to set the (only) 19 minutes aside to listen to what this man has to say about gender violence, sexism and the leadership roles of the men in our society and in the world at large.

It’s eye opening.

It’s simple yet inspired.

It lays down some facts, shares some common sense and puts out a simple call to action.

Women’s issues are men’s issues too.

Go on, click play and then when you are done watching please share it with everyone you know.

Video below.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. One of my favorite sociologists…also worth checking out are his film projects which expand the ideas he presents here. I show “Tough Guuse” in my gender class and despite it being out of date the students love it. He has written for The Huffington Post on toxic masculinity and school shootings as well…no one can seriously blame it on mental illnesses after familiarizing themselves with Katz’s work.

    1. Debbie Lindsay,

      If you mean to tell us that you say a lot of sexist comments over there, that’s not surprising unfortunately. I once read an article on antisemitism in the European Muslim community and a bunch of hate mongers had dropped by and left some of the most bigoted hate filled, racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic comments. Most of them were those “white genocide” “racial realist” idiots. Than in addition to all the anti Jewish bigots and racists, there was this one really dumb anti Muslim bigot that I got into an argument with who despite the fact she claimed to be an atheist used the conspiratorial Christian fundamentalist “news” site, World Net Daily as one of her sources. She also tried to use the Bible as a source to argue that the Palestinians were a non existent people. What was really shocking was that they got a bunch of positive votes despite the fact that it wasn’t on a hate site but a mainstream news website, and the story itself was clearly anti bigotry.

  2. This was wonderful. What I found the most eye-opening was the comparison of men joking around with each other about women being no different than joking about sexual orientation or race. Of course that’s true! I just never thought about it that way before.

  3. Loved it. I think there was a lot of preaching to the choir. I would hope that some men (and women) will see this and not continue allowing violence against women to continue. I think there are many issues around slut-shaming and bullying right now that constitutes violence against women and some of it is being perpetrated by women as well as men.

    Anyway I remember Katz’s work from my time in sociology. I have always enjoyed his Persoective!

  4. I always struggle with this. As a 56 year old man whose life has been very concerned with the issue of male violence against women, and indeed the issue of patriarchy in general I find it heartening to hear men speaking out, publicly stating their abhorrence at this and their commitment to work towards a different paradigm. It’s late, I’m tired, but I want to dive in and say that I started to struggle mid-way through when something about the style of the speaker got me to thinking that I was listening to a sermon from some pulpit and there was a touch of aggrandising. I concentrated, I debated my reasons for drifting down this path. “Focus on the message” was my mantra, “messengers come in different coloured clothes”. But I really started to question where things were heading when the issue of male power came to prominence. And I got to feeling just a bit angsty and returning to a position I have always held to – best leave the oppressed to define their oppression and inform the oppressor whats to be done about it.

    I say that with memories of Rita Mae Brown’s ‘A Plain Brown Wrapper’, which, along with other pieces of women’s writings, spoke to me of the necessity for a separatist attack on the patriarchy – it was a book that brought my (still) partner and I to metaphorical blows in the wee hours of every other night as I pronounced on the seemingly obvious strengths of anarcho-feminism and she asked me what the fuck I didn’t get. My scars, very warranted, have healed.

    ‘What we need is stronger men to tell really strong men to tell less strong men that women warrant respect…’ appears to me to be the speaker’s ‘way forward’.

    I’ll keep handing the mike to women, turning up the volume and cheering to my last breath. Not in any way to suggest that I don’t stick the issue in men’s faces as best as I can. Always.

  5. It’s important to remember that the title here is not about simply making people listen to this talk. Listening to this will do nothing for the majority of people (regardless of gender) who find it “funny” to make sexist jokes. It will certainly do nothing for the overt victim-blamers. This is speech encoded purely in language deeply entrenched in one side of this fight, and you should have no illusions that this speech will magically convince those on the other side, or even that it will convince many among the indifferent in the middle.

    The title only has accuracy when those of us who believe in the message take action. When we shame those who engage even in trivial sexism, and when we do it consistently. It cannot be simply feminism. Nothing is gained when someone will speak for an affront to women, but won’t speak for an affront to men. It also cannot simply be blaming. There is support in a mixed crowd for “it isn’t funny”, but there is little support for “you are enabling violence by your offensive comment”.

    We must act as though we live in a world where no level of discrimination is accepted. Not because of far-reaching consequences. Not because it’s insensitive. But because it is unacceptable in itself. If enough people act like they live in that world, we will all come to live in that world, just as we now live in a world that finds raiding the next village a ludicrous anachronism, the future world must see discrimination in the same way. This should be a call to action, not merely a call to retweet.

  6. I don’t buy the idea that, in order to combat violence in our society, a large part of the focus resides in scrubbing the language of others. This measure seems wholly inadequate as it attributes (at least partially) the cause of violence to something completely unrelated. One is asked to accept a barely substantiated correlation as causation – being that sexist language fosters violence against women. I find that it is fictitious reasoning along the lines of a Karma mythology and the butterfly effect: that by confronting the individual(s), entire social fabrics come to consist of well-informed, literate, fair-minded critical thinkers; capable of righting the world’s wrongs through the eradication of formerly socially acceptable but maladaptive thinking. To submit that policing a friend’s language at a poker game equates with confronting spousal abuse seems the epitome of naivety.
    Kat’s “bystander” paradigm is hardly novel and I remember witnessing such confrontations, as the one he proscribes, a little over twenty years ago. At the very best, it addresses a symptom of a much larger problem and that is only when the problem is, in fact, present. Criticism leveled at the movie, Tropic Thunder, is a prime example of what I’m talking about. The phrase, “full retard” was never meant as a diminutive remark on developmentally disabled people. It seems perfectly clear that it satirized Hollywood’s objectifying and simplistic portrayal of retarded people but the phrase was taken out of context and misinterpreted.
    The result was that a much, much dumber conversation occurred than those we could have been having. (i.e. Is Hollywood’s stereotypically two-dimensional portrayal of the mentally handicapped veiling ignorance with a layer of saccharine sentimentality?) The collective outrage from groups like Special Olympics and the Association for Retarded Citizens effectively shot the messenger. I don’t particularly care for the film, myself, finding only occasionally humorous moments sprucing up an airless plot that never delivered more than plain, vanilla humor. The best and worst I can say about its use of the phrase, full retard, is that it is an incredibly poor vehicle for resonant, dark, social satire.
    My personal experience has been that this method of confronting people’s speech just shuts people down. While it presumes to induce a status quo in which barbaric behavior is subject to peer condemnation, it actually does little more than promote misunderstanding, alienation, and, in the end, a stifling silence which reinforces a division it imposes as the one being confronted retreats from any conversation that could establish the presence of, let alone correct for, their personal ignorance.

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