“I draw a line down the middle of a chalkboard, sketching a male symbol on one side and a female symbol on the other. Then I ask just the men: What steps do you guys take, on a daily basis, to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? At first, there is a kind of awkward silence as the men try to figure out if they’ve been asked a trick question. The silence gives way to a smattering of nervous laughter. Occasionally, a young a guy will raise his hand and say, ‘I stay out of prison.’ This is typically followed by another moment of laughter before someone finally raises his hand and soberly states, ‘Nothing. I don’t think about it.’ Then I ask the women the same question. What steps do you take on a daily basis to prevent yourselves from being sexually assaulted? Women throughout the audience immediately start raising their hands. As the men sit in stunned silence, the women recount safety precautions they take as part of their daily routine...”
― Jackson Katz, The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help
(The first man to minor in women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Ph.D. in cultural studies and education from UCLA.)
What’s crazy about the activity Jackson Katz demonstrated, was how I thought all of these precautions were NORMAL. That this was part of my daily routine … to hold my keys between my fingers, to ask a co-worker to walk to me my car, to pretend I am on the phone with someone, to look down and not make eye contact with passing men on the street…
This is NOT NORMAL BEHAVIOUR.
This should NOT be part of my daily routine and we need men to recognize this!
This story was brought up in a diversity seminar and one of the males in the class admitted to not knowing this was how women felt on a daily basis. He later explained how he had a discussion with another male colleague in the class, who also felt the same.
Women are deemed as the problem when they decide to go out and ‘drink’ … in the presence of men, when they dress provocatively … for men, for walking down a dark alley… women are blamed. It is important to discuss these conversations with women and include men in these conversations.