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 Tuesday, September 28, 2004, IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Gender Behavior Expert Jackson Katz Visits CU-Boulder
By Allison Sylvest

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

In his film, "Tough Guise," Jackson Katz uses an important image from another film: actor Frank Morgan as the Great Oz, being discovered at the controls of his larger than life wizardly image.

Far from the great and powerful wizard he claimed to be, Morgan's character is an average man who found himself transported to a strange and fantastical land, and felt pressured to meet the expectations of its inhabitants.

Such is the case for boys growing up in America, according to Katz, an anti-sexist male activist who spent September 21-24 giving presentations to CU-Boulder community members and the public.

Katz's visit was a collaborative effort among student affairs, victim assistance, athletics and COURAGE.

In March, Chancellor Byyny formed two task forces to initiate a number of changes in protocols for responding to incidents of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, and to review current programs and initiatives related to preventing sexual assault and violence against women in the campus community. The committees, which include representatives from athletics, CU police, housing, judicial affairs, student affairs, administrative legal council, victim assistance, harassment policy and equal opportunity, were asked to recommend ways of addressing gaps in current programs and enhancing future educational programming.

"We have very qualified people at CU-Boulder doing great work in this area," said Judy Poynter, assistant to the vice chancellor of student affairs. "We wanted to invite a nationally recognized leader in gender violence issues to talk about the subject, in particular how it relates to men."

The pressure to meet stereotypical images of manhood can be a precursor to negative behavior, said Katz. Power is a common component of male identity, but often it is misunderstood and misused.

"Violent masculinity is a cultural ill in the U.S.," he said. "How do we change the climate? Men need to stand up and speak up."

In the language we use, the images we see and the belief systems we hold, we conclude that female victims of violence should be the focus of prevention programs, Katz said. While women do deserve support and assistance, it is men who should be at the center of violence prevention education.

His Mentors in Violence Prevention program addresses ways in which young men in high school and college can change their thinking by personalizing "female" issues surrounding violence and holding peers accountable for their behavior. The program in used in classroom and college/professional sports sessions across the country.

Katz believes men have the power and responsibility to change society's views about what it is to be a man.

"It is important for us to pull back the curtain and take a sober look both at the images of masculinity and what's behind them." He said.

For more information about Jackson Katz and his work, visit www.jacksonkatz.com.


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