A major paradigm shift is needed in the way boys are raised in America today.
That was the message delivered on NAU campus Wednesday by nationally renowned anti-sexism author and activist Jackson Katz.
He also said that more men need to take leadership roles in topics often thought of as women's issues.
"Rape is a big problem on college campuses," Katz told a crowded Prochnow Auditorium. "Why is that? In other words, what are we doing as a society to be helping to produce men who are acting in this way generation after generation?"
The large audience of mostly students weighed in often on the issues Katz raised and many stuck around for the entirety of the nearly 3-hour long talk, with many also waiting in line for signatures afterward.
The talk, which was paid for in part by local bars, was advertised as focusing on alcohol and sexual assault, though the topic was only mentioned in passing.
CONFRONT THE MISOGYNY
Katz instead packed a wide range of issues into his talk, addressing everything from the increase in hyper-masculine portrayals in recent decades, to the objectifying of women, victim blaming and his "bystander approach."
Katz told the crowd it wasn't enough to try to improve the way society responds to support a victim; he said society has to confront the misogyny that helps create the problem.
One in four college females will be the victim of an attempted or completed sexual crime, according to Myra Ferrel-Womochil of Northland Family Help Center, which organized the event.
However, FBI statistics show that 75 percent of all women do not report when they have been victims of a sexual assault.
The NAU Police Department took 13 reports of forcible sex offenses on campus last year.
"If you're not focused on changing the culture that produces the men who abuse, then it's all cleaning up after the fact," Katz said. "We gotta do better."
"In big institutions like the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts or Penn State football or in local communities, why is this a common story?" he later asked "What is going on with men?"
ATHLETES CAN LEAD
Katz is unapologetic in his belief that society has to accept that men are raping women, and that the problem is not gender-neutral.
Over the last 15 years, Katz has worked with collegiate and professional athletes, the military, the Boy Scouts and others to help promote male leadership on issues that might not typically be seen as "macho."
Long before it became acceptable to be openly gay in the military, Katz was working to stamp out gay-bashing on Marine Corps bases.
And as a former successful athlete himself, he saw the potential leadership that college athletes could provide if they spoke out against sexual assault, domestic violence and other issues. It's those sorts of leaders he believes will make a difference.
"We need more engagement from the president of NAU, from the athletic director," Katz said. "In other words, people of power on this campus."
CALL IT OUT
The bystander approach he teaches around the country advocates not just calling 911 or supporting a rape victim. It also pushes those who see inappropriate behavior to call it out.
In recent decades, women have been taught not to put drinks down at bars and parties, to look in the back seat of their cars and even to have a man's voice on their answering machines. He said that men are taught that they are potential perpetrators and most don't see themselves that way.
Instead, he advocates intervening before there's a problem.
"The minute we pick up the phone to call police, we have failed as a society," Katz said.
He told the large group of students that if they have a buddy who acts obnoxious or gets grabby with women with he drinks, they are responsible for confronting it.
Don't just ditch your friend so you're not associated with his actions, he said. Wait until he's sober and talk about it.
But he added that doing so is very difficult.
LEARNING TOO LATE?
Kayla Mager, a junior English major at NAU, said that she agrees with Katz's message and thinks it needs a wider reach and to be taught at a younger age.
"The fact that I'm in college and I'm just learning about this is a problem," she said.
Mager said that she's an aspiring screenwriter and is troubled by Hollywood's representations that men and women have to be a certain way. Even Disney movies portray stereotypes of male and female roles, she said.
Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.