This week we remember the 14 women who were killed by Marc Lepine at L’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal on December 6, 1989 for no other reason than the fact they were women.
This massacre has become a symbol of the wider epidemic of violence against women, and we memorialize it through Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often characterized as women’s issues, and the men who don’t commit violence have a habit of thinking the issue doesn’t apply to them.
I had the chance last year to hear a presentation made by Dr Jackson Katz, an American educator and leading advocate in gender violence prevention among men and boys.
To prevent these acts from reoccurring, Dr Katz says the first step is acknowledging that violence against women is not a women’s issue, but a men’s issue because they are the perpetrators.
When it comes to physical and sexual violence against women, it’s no longer acceptable for men who don’t commit these crimes to be bystanders with this struggle, Dr Katz said in the presentation.
Men standing up for women’s rights is no different than heterosexuals standing up for the rights of homosexuals or white people standing up for the rights of other marginalized races.
Men who aren’t perpetrators don’t realize their tacit complicity in gender violence by not actively campaigning against it.
It’s up to men to talk to women and hear about the problems they confront on a daily basis and try to change the culture around gender relations.
Change can’t be imposed upon men, change has to come from within the culture of masculinity.
If the good guys stay silent, the status quo will remain and the bad guys will continue to physically and sexually abuse women.
It’s a men’s issue.
For more information about Jackson Katz and his work, visit www.jacksonkatz.com