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Today in Awesome

Watch “The TED Talk That Might Make Every Man a Feminist” [VIDEO]


This TED talk, delivered by Jackson Katz, Ph.D to TEDxFiDiWoman, is being called “the TED talk that might make every man a feminist” (Rebecca Eisenberg, Upworthy) If wishes were fishes, eh? Cynicism aside, Katz has a lot of good things to say about domestic abuse, sexual harassment, and other forms of gender violence, and the responsibility of men—not just those who commit it, but bystanders as well—to put an end to it. It sounds simple, but it’s something that’s often missed when gender violence as framed as a “women’s issue” (as if it’s not the behavior of the perpetrators that needs to change).

The talk took place back in February, but even though it’s a few months old I think it’s well worth a listen. I hope you think so, too.

(via: Skepchick)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    I’m looking forward to all the men who nod slowly and shake their heads in understanding at this speech, while conveniently forgetting all the times they shrugged off women’s rants about sexism, laughed at their irate girlfriends’ for being on their period, catcalled as they passed by in their car, used ‘rape’, ‘bitch’ and ‘whore’ in their daily vocabulary, and got angry when their co-worker asked why there hasn’t been a woman president yet.

    There’s just something about a man talking about feminism that suddenly makes sense, y’know?

    (note, this is directed less at the speaker and more at some of the intended audience, with their gross tendency to listen only when it’s a member of their group, as well as misunderstanding privileged responsibility even when it’s spelled out in colorful kindergarten alphabet blocks)

  • Simon Chui

    Violence happens when it works, when offenders can get what they want through acts of violence. The things that people want aren’t complicated: sex, power, validation, pleasure. On the flip side, violence can be reduced if it no longer works, if people can’t get what they want through violence. To paraphrase Dr Jackson Katz, “bystanders” and leaders need to change conditions such that people can’t get what they want through violence.

    On an unrelated note, typing this comment took a long time because I got distracted looking at Dr Kat, Professional Therapist videos on YouTube.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amanda-Hertel/100001442287605 Amanda Hertel

    But don’t you think this will get more men to pause and think about what they say and do and what they allow their friends to get away with?? I feel that this opens up the talk to both sides. We’re well beyond Virginia Wolf writing about A Room of One’s Own and independence for Women. We can’t continue to rail and wail against the walls of patriarchal society. To me, this sounds like if not THE solution then a great part of what will go into one.

  • http://twitter.com/DanielReasor Daniel Reasor

    Hey, these guys look like someone is getting through to them. I’d better assume they’re the same misogynists I keep running into and accuse them of everything in the book. Working together toward a shared future, built on mutual trust and respect, is for chumps.

  • Matt Sooby

    Thank you for putting into words what I couldn’t earlier.
    This attitude fixes nothing.

  • Eztrenk

    Now if only feminism had a definition that everyone agreed on.

    People utter the word “feminism” as if it is a monolithic view. Something everyone agrees on. But when you get to the details… there’s a lot of disagreement.
    Anybody read about the Toronto incident, a while back? Is that supposed to be feminism at its finest? A group of rabid protesters who don’t even know what a talk is going to be about, who pull fire alarms to stop said talk, who take pictures of people attending the talk and put them in a database of rape-apologists?

    Sure, men and all have issues. Both internal and towards each other. But feminism cannot be the answer at this moment, because feminism is not united right now.

    It’s like saying you have a glass to drink water from, when in reality you have thousands of little shards of glass. They could form a glass, if united. But they’re not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    You’re more than welcome to get angry at your peers, rather than a woman responding to the pervasive patterns that leave her no choice but to be pessimistic and untrusting.

    That’s assuming you learned anything from the TED talk, that is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    So sorry. I’ll stop being wary and frustrated at my oppression, as I seem to be hurting the feelings of a lot of men around here.

  • Anonymous

    Feminists aren’t all united? A resounding “duh”. What on earth does that prove? There isn’t a single political movement out there whose every subscriber agrees on the particulars. That’s the wealth of human experience, not an argument that “feminism cannot be the answer right now”.

    A bunch of MRAs hold talks at our local university, while vaguely insinuating affiliation with/endorsement by said university. This had been going on for some time now, and of course people were irritated (including myself). The protesters were some of those people; they were angry and did not respond appropriately. As you said, feminism is not a monolithic entity, so… how is their behaviour a “gotcha” against feminism?

  • Matt Sooby

    I WANT you to get angry. You damn well should be. But don’t take it out on this assumed target audience though. That’s only going to create more issues. How are ANY men going to listen if people write them all off? We’re on the same side here, but pointing fingers and assuming that this will only fall on deaf ears is counter productive to the point of this TED talk.

  • Anonymous

    May I ask you to clarify? Are you suggesting that the people who do violence are not responsible for what they do, but because they get away with it? And it “works”, for them?

  • Anonymous

    Ashe, I do believe you might like this piece, written by Melissa McEwan: http://www.shakesville.com/2012/11/the-terrible-bargain-we-have.html

  • Anonymous

    True Matt; it could create more friction. I would like to make the bold assumption, however, that the ones who truly wish to change, will not be so swayed by a temper (and a rightious anger at that).

  • Anonymous

    Ashe, I hear you. I echo your frustration.

  • http://twitter.com/DanielReasor Daniel Reasor

    I’m neither hurt nor angry. And I count you as a peer. You’re well within your rights to respond to a pervasive pattern by adopting the assumption that things can never get better and men can never be anything but monsters; but I’m within my rights to reply that this is neither accurate nor productive. You have allies, whether you accept them or push them away.

  • Amber Barnes

    This dude can fuck right the hell off.

    “This isn’t women’s issues that a few good men help out in, this is a men’s issue.”

    Fuck.

    You.

    Every goddamned thing HAS to be made about men. Every women’s issue has to be recast, remade, remixed to be centered around men for it to matter. This is gender issues at their finest: men taking over talk about women’s issues and being appaulded for it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.hunt.773981 Jason Hunt

    I see more punch ups between women vs women in bars and out on the streets these days than I do men hitting a woman, Like a hell of a lot more. My youngest sister is of a going out age now and she feels more intimidated by other women than she does men when out socialising.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    He’s not the first person to do this. Jackson Katz for instance has stated that the fact that most perpetrators of rape are men and yet we frame it as a women’s issue ‘should tell us something’. In fact, while many things need more focus on women, he’s right that refusing to focus on the perpetrators of crimes is a serious problem. And note he goes out of his way to thank women for their work in feminism, and to remind the audience that women have been saying this for years but have been ignored.

    I’m not totally disagreeing with you. The way he said ‘not just women and girls, but men and boys’ rubbed me the wrong way. I also get a little worn with the whole ‘you should care about women’s rights because there are women you care about’ thing, because no, you should care about our rights because we’re human beings. But for the most, yeah, if we want to prevent gender based violence, we can’t keep putting the responsibility on women. That’s what society has been doing all along.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    I know it’s tiring when men only understand these things when they’re said by another man, but that’s exactly why we need men to speak up. The men who listen to and respect women aren’t the ones whose minds need to be changed. If this makes those men that need to change start to listen, I’m okay with that. Once they’ve started to listen then they can learn. I’ve known some great male feminists who used to be very sexist. Frankly, if you’d talked to me ten years ago, you’d have found that I was a lot more sexist too. People do learn and they do change, and it’s that change in individuals that needs to take place if we are really going to change the system of gender violence in society as a whole. So while I respect your frustration, I think if this gets one of the types of guys that you describe above thinking, then it’s more than done its job.

  • Anonymous

    Feminism does have a definition that all feminists agree on, and you can even find it in a dictionary (super easy to look up, btw) like this one: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/feminism. It says that feminism is the “Belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes,” which includes the “belief” (or knowledge, which would be more apt) that women are the same species of homo sapiens sapiens–with all the intellect and feelings and life experiences that come with it–as men are and so we should all be treated the same. That’s it! Easy peasy. Treat people like people. The rest is just noise. If you don’t “believe” this, then you are a sexist and probably other “ists” as well.

  • Amber Barnes

    Its not about putting the responsibility on women to prevent violence. Its about men hijacking a women’s issue and women being forced to share the stage with men and act as if they’re just as affected by a kind of violence that overwhelmingly targets women if we ever want men to even do the most basic of nodding along.

    Its the fact that nothing he said isn’t anything feminists haven’t been screaming from the tops of their lungs for years, but its gotta take a man saying it for other men and even some women to get on board with what is absolutely a women’s issue. Its remarketing a feminist issue to be more palatable to men by pretending that men are just as victimized and that’s bullshit. I’m sick of even well meaning WHAT ABOUT THE MEN? rhetoric being given more credence and credit than the words of women.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    The statistics don’t support your anecdote at all. The greatest perpetrators of violence towards women are men. The greatest perpetrators of violence towards men are men. And these are both by very wide margins.

  • http://twitter.com/Mimidraw Mimi Rice

    So…we want this to be a women’s issue? This discussion is clearly directed towards men, not women. He’s not saying that men are going to swoop down and solve the problem- but that more effort needs to be spent focusing on changing the abusers, and not just feeling sorry for the victims. That men are an important part of the equation because, in the majority of cases, men are the ones beating.

  • Anonymous

    I resemble that remark.
    When I first had what I describe as my waking up, I was just so, yanno, NOT INTO all those rant-y women whining. Just so over the top! So much drama ! Ugh, double-ugh!
    But, oh, that one dude, he made total sense. I listened to him. I started to interogate my assumptions.
    It didn’t take too long for him to ask the question, why do you listen to me talking about women, and not women talking about women?
    Whoooops.
    It took some actual thinking and acknowledging privilege before I began actually listening to women on feminism. And, surprise surprise, they actually did know a whole hell of a lot more about women and feminism than even the best-educated male allies.
    Yeah, the toxic privilege of only listening to folks in the in-group is an insidious beast.
    But I’m still really grateful to the guy who started battering down the anti-feminism I was full of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    Reading through it, I recognized a really good quote that’s been making rounds on Tumblr. I can’t believe I never read the full thing until now.

    Thanks for sending! It sums this up perfectly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    This is good to hear. Not many people will admit to things like this.

    I’m not saying every single man who listens to other men on feminism are doomed to be nice-guy-hypocrites (which I hope wasn’t what it seemed like I said, I am all for men collecting their folk): I’m merely super skeptical, at first, if they only seem to perk up and change when it’s a member of their own group parroting what women are saying.

    But, I can relate to your experience, too: we all have yucky privileged moments that are sometimes slapped out of us by people like us. I know I’ve had mine, in other areas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    I can’t say I disagree with you.

    It is very, very tiring. I won’t object to change, in all its different forms, and you’re right: people learn, in starts and fits and sometimes in icky ways. It’s merely that damn lingering suspicion on people who just can’t fathom an experience unless it’s from someone who does not actually have this experience.

    I know how that mentality works, its roots. It’s just tiring, like you said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashe.samuels Ashe P. Samuels

    He made sense. When he says it’s a man’s issue, not a woman’s issue, he means that it’s men’s problem. They started it, they perpetuate it, they benefit from it: they should be the ones fixing it.

    But, like any oppressive-oppressed group dynamic, the responsibility always falls on the latter.

    I know what you’re saying (spotlight on men, men’s ‘rights’, men pushing their way into women’s spaces, etc), but I don’t think that’s what he meant.

  • Anonymous

    “adopting the assumption that things can never get better and men can never be anything but monsters”

    This is a straw man; it isn’t at all what Ashe said. The point of the comment was that *some* (a word Ashe uses) men will hear this speech, recognize that yes, there is a problem, but attribute it to *others* without recognizing how they may have contributed to it. And if they fail to recognize how they might stop contributing to the problem, they are NOT GOOD ALLIES.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    But it’s because of that exhaustion –and it really is closer to exhaustion at this point– that I’m glad when talks like this appear. Not because I think men should be listened to more than women but because it’s recently occurred to me that changing masculine culture is not my responsibility. Unfortunately it’s my problem, because parts of that culture have made it my problem, but the responsibility falls to men. Which is why –even if they don’t come to feminism in the best way– I’m keen to have more men involved. Because I think gender issues are a two sided problem. We can create feminist spaces and feminist discussion, but if men aren’t going off into their own spaces and making those feminist then we’re only dealing with half the issue.

  • Joe Momma

    I do not see anything in this comment regarding responsibility. He’s saying that society in general fail to hold the abusers and bullies accountable for their actions to degree that they should. This results in those who use violence to get what they want having low risk/high reward for their actions. This is not conducive to stopping this behavior. In no way does this justify the aforementioned behavior, the failure to stop a undesirable action does not justify or excuse that action.

    I feel this course of action (calling out and punishing those who would use aggression as a means to an end), while not wrong, will be helpful only in curbing the symptom, but will not be as helpful in dealing with the underlying problem.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    With all respect, I don’t feel like that’s what he said. The idea of ‘what about the men’ is not that it focusses on men’s part in male violence. Men are a key part of male violence. It’s not even mentioning that men are sometimes the victims of male violence. They are, it’s okay to talk about that. It’s taking an issue of which the primary victims are women, in a discussion about female victims of violence, and trying to re-frame it so that the female victims are ignored in favour of the male ones. This isn’t what he’s doing at all. He’s focussing on violence in masculine culture in order to tackle violence against women from a different angle. At no point did I hear him imply that men where just as victimised as women. Men speaking about feminism, is a problem when they’re talking over women, or talking for women (ie. about women’s experiences), but he’s speaking about male behaviour, and the talk is addressed to men. Yes it’s basic stuff, yes it’s been said before, but you know what, I don’t want to have to keep going over this beginner level stuff to guys who don’t care to listen to me. Let men deal with that for a change. They damn well should be speaking up about male violence.

  • Anonymous

    “I’m merely super skeptical, at first, if they only seem to perk up and
    change when it’s a member of their own group parroting what women are
    saying.”

    Yes. I’ve seen a lot of guys say ‘that makes sense’ when I say it, who then get to the point where they need to actually apply it, check their privilege, listen to a woman talking about feminism… and somehow just can’t quite let go.

  • Anonymous

    If that is indeed what this person is saying, then sure. I do believe punishing will stop a lot of the actions, but yes, the behavior, the way we view the world, needs to change. And all the “isms” and the bigotry need to die, in a fire. Hard core.

  • Anonymous

    Good point, well said.

  • Anonymous

    “I shouldn’t have to play by men’s rules in order for them to listen to me.”
    And there it is. Bam.

  • Anonymous

    Not only does your viewpoint not speak for all men, it doesn’t even speak for all women. I am amazed that you think you know what your sister lives through, in your validity prism. Can you mind read as well?

  • Matt Sooby

    Again, I’m still agreeing with you. Completely. I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. We SHOULD listen to men and women equally in any situation. My only point is in any sort of civil inequality, the answer is going to be working together, not driving further apart. I want as many people to hear this message as possible. Does it suck that a lot of men will only listen to other men? You bet it does. But if that is PART of the solution, so be it. The assumption that nothing will change will only promote nothing changing. I really, really do agree with you. I just don’t agree with this apparent assumption that the speaker might as well not be speaking for all the good it will do. Am I, along with the rest of my gender, unfairly privileged? Yeah. I don’t like it. Am I ever going to understand what it’s like to be in your shoes? No. Things suck. More and more men are standing up to see the other half of the population get treated the way they deserve. Part of that is men talking to men. And maybe in the next generation or two, every man will listen to an issue no matter if it is a woman or a man who is talking.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    I’ve always said these issues aren’t women’s issues, they’re people’s issues.

  • Mina

    Just because people aren’t doing something in public in bars and on the streets doesn’t mean it isn’t happening at alarming rates in homes.

  • Mina

    Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. It’s super frustrating and insulting when someone hears you say something but brushes it off and then accepts the exact same words as wisdom when it comes from someone else.

    BUT I have to admit that most of us, including myself, tend to take a criticism more seriously when it comes from someone within our “group.” When a criticism comes from an outsider, it’s easier to stay in denial and just shrug it off, saying, “You don’t know me. You don’t know my experiences or intentions. You don’t like me or want to understand me. I don’t need your approval anyway.” When it comes from someone in your group, whatever that group is, who DOES know your life and experiences and whose opinion you have historically held in higher regard, it’s much harder to ignore. I for one have been much more likely to shamefully admit to myself that maybe I’ve been wrong when confronted by someone from my “group,” whether it was my economic group, my religious group, my gender group, my racial group, etc. And that’s messed up. And it’s REALLY aggravating. But a lot of times, an entire group’s behavior doesn’t really change until members push change from within. So if it occasionally takes a man saying gender violence is most definitely not okay for another man to finally get it, then so be it as long as the end result is the same.

  • Simon Chui

    Of course people who commit violence are responsible for what they do. I have in mind all forms of violence. Slavery happens when slave owners profit from it. Political repression happens when it keeps the powerful in power. Bullying happens when it allows bullies to maintain their sense of superiority. Sexual harassment happens when the harasser can sate their sexual urges through harassment. But how are any of these things ever stopped? Not by appealing to the offenders’ sense of responsibility, but by demonstrating to them that their actions will no longer get them what they want, through whatever means is sufficient. And who is capable of doing this? Not the victims, who were already in a position of vulnerability, but the numerous bystanders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.hunt.773981 Jason Hunt

    I’m amazed you’d be such a pompous arse to think I don’t know what my sister lives through. Maybe you’re a dysfunctional human being from a dysfunctional family. I however communicate with my sister all the time. This is how I know how she feels as she communicates such things as written above to her older brother.
    I don’t need to mind read, I’ve a wonderful relationship with both my sisters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.hunt.773981 Jason Hunt

    Yes because statistics are the be all and end all of experiences. There’s been articles published in Australian newspapers out here about the worrying increase of woman on woman violence. The point being It’s society becoming more violent towards each other, not just one gender specific.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, and definitely agree.

    ” But how are any of these things ever stopped? Not by appealing to the offenders’ sense of responsibility, but by demonstrating to them that their actions will no longer get them what they want, through whatever means is sufficient.”
    Honestly, it depends, since every abuser is different. Generally, since society tends to “back them up”, with wonderful phrases that focus on the victims (ie “Stand up for yourself!” and “Fight back!” or “Don’t feed the trolls!” etc), appealing to their sense of responsibility will at the least be harder to do. Anyways, I was more commenting on your comment specifically, as I thought that’s what you were implying, but I’m glad I was wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Adam, what were your thoughts on the video?

  • Anonymous

    Communicating is not the same thing as empathizing and validating. But at the end of the day, you’re right, I don’t know you or your sister(s). I do however note that your comment is very bias towards male privilege; would be awesome if you would check it. My humble opinion, from a pompous arse.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I haven’t made time for it yet (I will) so I wouldn’t want to draw any opinions. I commented mainly because it seems like the first comment on the page (at the top, when I have refreshed it, anyway) is almost always a caustic and negative opinion. This goes for movies, books, politics, everything. It’s probably the most depressing thing about the Internet. The first or often the most prevalent opinion carries an axe made of cynicism and chops away at the legs of everything. So, that’s sort of what drew my ire. But I will watch and tell you what I think. If I had to guess (based on what I’ve seen thus far) it will be inspiring, though nothing I haven’t heard before from the mouths of others I’ve seen in Internet videos in front of podiums, Wachowski, Sarkeesian, Whedon, and so forth.

    And for what it’s worth, I cautiously agree with the caustic comment I’m complaining about. It’s always aggravating when you can huff, puff, and harp about something for years, but someone else is credited with being an innovator because they a) phrased things differently b) were rich or c) famous, d) had charisma e) or shared some aspect of their person-hood with the intended audience that you didn’t (race, sex, gender, creed, age, weight, ANYTHING, really). So, I agree, but it’s mighty fucking frustrating that everything has be chop-chop-choppied, even when it’s a positive thing.

  • Anonymous

    Frustration from others can trigger frustration in ourselves, for sure. It’s kinda like when my husband gets frustrated at something, my response (as I’ve learned growing up in an abusive household) is to fear and/or react negatively to male anger. So I do. I know the situation you described isn’t the same, but I’m more trying to capture the feeling.

  • Anonymous

    Looking at society even deeper then that, you would see it’s heavily misogynistic, and the violence usually has female victims. Not to mention, did this study say why the women were hitting each other? Maybe something to do with the hatred of women, which is what this video touches on?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I suppose that’s about right. It’s the Internet, so I suppose I shouldn’t expect fluffy phony tails around every corner, but sometimes the hopelessness draws out what little optimism I tote around.
    Watching now…halfway through, I love his Mary & John demonstration off cognitive thought processes and that while we SHOULD ask questions about Mary, those questions won’t resolve John’s violent behavior…further in, he describes exactly what this thread is about! That sometimes we (human beings) are deaf to the Other and it takes someone we recognize as Same to say the words for us to hear. That’s not wonderful and it’s kind of sad, but sometimes people have great defenses built around their comfort zones, and this sort of thing helps get through those defenses.
    Finished. I think he’s a very typical trained public speaker and I agree with most of his points, but aside from the two I’ve specifically called out, it’s mostly information that’s readily available and I’ve heard it before. It shouldn’t be dismissed, it’s a good video to pass around, though I’ve heard more passionate and charismatic speeches. Lana Wachowski, for example, touched upon gender issues in a much more poignant way and I thought her speech was great, though obviously on another topic.

    What did you think? And on a completely different topic, have you seen GirlsWritesWhat and what do you think about her or her videos?

  • Anonymous

    I pretty much agree with you about the video. I think the reason it’s going around my blogs (almost all of them, actually, and by “my” I mean the ones I read every morning) is because of the male speaker. So I think that’s the main thread here, because I do agree, there are videos that lift me up and touch deeper then what’s being said here. In fact, most movies and media effect me more; through our stories, we’re able to empathize even more.

    Lol! I have, erm, scanned through GirlsWritesWhat via the blog manbooz; their crap pops up every once in a while. What I think of her videos is…sad, I guess. I’m sad that there’s a breakdown in communication somewhere, and this person is refusing to self reflect, to understand where the breakdown is coming from. Instead they would rather project all their fears and hatred onto a specific group.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I’ll have to check out Manbooz. If only because I read that as Manboobz at first and imagined a modified TheMarySue logo.

  • Anonymous

    Lol! Check it out here: http://manboobz.com/

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Hah, it IS manboobz? Good stuff.

  • ThisOnePerson

    Seconded.

  • Eztrenk

    And why exactly should I believe you when you say all feminists agree on this?

    Also, what is “equality” according to feminists? Personal experience tells me that feminists go by the Animal Farm definition of equality. “Every animal is equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

  • Eztrenk

    Bit late.

    I got 3 replies and yours got 2 likes. The others got 2 likes.

    But you’re right, feminism started out to help the white woman. Colored women were largely ignored and sometimes today still are by feminism. Because they don’t care.

  • Eztrenk

    Sorry for the late reply. Anyway.

    What does it prove, you ask.

    It contradicts the very title of this article. How can every man be made a feminist if there is no 1 feminism. The “gotcha” isn’t against feminism as a concept, it’s against this TED talk.

    On another note: why must “men” become feminists? This insinuates that feminism is something inherently female, which men are not in favor off. And since feminism stands for equality(or so it says) this would mean that men are against equality. As if no woman ever committed an act of discrimination out of prejudice.

    This whole thing just perpetuates the circle-jerk that is “women good, men evil”.

    And MRAs suffer the same problem. No 1clear definition. Right now, they’re at best a very lose group of people with bad experiences. And not recognizing them isn’t going to make them go away.

  • Dakini Shima