Speaker at U stresses men’s roles in reducing gender violence

Emily Kaiser

Though gender violence is considered a women’s issue, 99 percent is committed by men, Mentors In Violence Prevention founder Jackson Katz said Thursday.

The prevention program specializes in gender violence education and awareness, and Katz makes national appearances about gender violence and the role men play to avoid it.

During his lecture to more than 100 people at the Bell Museum of Natural History, Katz said the history of calling it a women’s issue allows men to not pay attention. He said the most popular way of handling gender violence involves risk reduction for women, rather than violence prevention in men.

Katz said that while the media cannot be solely blamed for the negative images of gender relations, it is important to look at the ways in which it desensitizes and normalizes violence.

The lecture was sponsored by the Office for University Women, which “seeks to promote a warm campus climate that targets notions of masculinity and femininity,” said Julie Keown-Bomar, director of women student programming.

Keown-Bomar said she had previously used “Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity,” a video created by Katz, in one of her classes.

She said students are already aware of many of the problems with the media, but events like Katz’s lecture “put a face on the media.”

“Students are pretty savvy when it comes to the media, but this kind of presentation can show the many factors that they are already thinking about,” Keown-Bomar said.

Linus Abraham, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the media are playing a role in gender violence, but not entirely.

“Media has a tendency to amplify things,” he said. “While you can not explicitly blame the media, it does have a role, because we are living in a very visual culture where you can imply things without knowing.”

Abraham said lectures such as this allow students to look at visual images more critically.

“For a long time, we have had language literacy where we learn to write and critically analyze language,” Abraham said. “We do not teach techniques for analyzing visual imagery.”

Abraham said much of our current gender stereotyping is created through visual images.

At the University, the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education helps those who experience sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, Director Jamie Tiedemann said.

According to the 2003-04 Aurora Center Annual Report, 155 of the 190 alleged perpetrators reported to the center were men.

Tiedemann said the center has a new poster campaign to raise awareness of the services available to students. She said the center experienced a 62 percent increase in use among students from July 1 to Nov. 30, in comparison with that time period last year.

Tiedemann said the media have a crucial role in reflecting society and giving out more positive messages about genders.

“The media in many ways sort of gives the impression that individuals who are violent to other people are being accustomed into being hyper masculine,” she said.