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The Daily Tar Heel

Activist encourages men to ?ght sexual violence

In today’s culture, sexual violence is largely seen as a women’s issue that only some “good” men help out with, Jackson Katz, a leading anti-sexist activist, told students Tuesday night.

“I have a problem with this,” he said during a speech in the Great Hall of the Student Union. “I don’t see these as women’s issues. These are men’s issues.”

Katz’s speech was part of the Carolina Men Care Campaign, a week of events held to show that men can be allies in the fight against gender violence.

Katz aimed to bring awareness to sexual violence, as he identified its causes and encouraged men to take action in its prevention.

The Carolina Union Activities Board forum committee brought Katz to speak to the crowd of more than 300 people.

“It is important for us all to understand the topic more wholly and become better resources for each other,” said Grace Peter, CUAB culture chairwoman.

“Safety on this campus for everyone is a huge issue right now, and this specific issue affects all men,” she said.

Katz said one of the reasons that men don’t become more involved in gender violence issues is because all of the focus is on women as victims and not on men as perpetrators.

“A lot of people hear the word ‘gender’ and automatically think women’s issues. The words ‘women’s issues’ give men an excuse not to pay attention,” he said.

He added that a central reason for the focus on women in sexual violence is the occurrence of victim blaming, emphasizing that as humans, we subconsciously are led to blame victims of sexual assault.

One example of this blame is the use of the word “alleged victim” instead of “victim,” Katz said.

He added that sexual violence is the only category of serious crimes where a qualifier must be used in court, which implies that women are accusers of crimes rather than targets of sexual violence.

He said a common theme among college men is that they don’t speak out and challenge others to stop sexist comments and degrading language.

“Being able to say ‘I am not a rapist’ is just not very impressive.”

Freshman Robert Kutrow said that men might not always realize that they play an important role in preventing sexual violence.

“The first step for men is to open their minds beyond the nomenclature of ‘women’s issues’ and realize that this host of problems is as much, if not more, their own responsibility,” he said.

Contact the desk editor at university@dailytarheel.com.

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