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dr_katz_smAdvocating the “bystander approach” commonly used in anti-bullying campaigns, Dr. Jackson Katz spoke with students this week, encouraging everyone to use their voices against issues of gender violence.

“Gender is a central, organizing principle of human society. It affects all of us. If you are in a position to speak up in the face of social injustice, then you need to speak up,” says Dr. Katz, who is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work in gender violence prevention education. “If you say nothing, what are you saying by your silence?”

Dr. Katz co-founded the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. The program initially focused on involving college and professional athletes, because the culture of athletics awards status to certain men and therefore has potential as a positive leadership platform. Today, MVP is the most widely used gender violence prevention program in college and professional athletics, implemented by teams in the NFL, NBA and in Major League Baseball.

“If you are not a good leader off the field or off the court, then you are not a good leader,” says Dr. Katz.
Dr. Katz says violence against women should be approached as everyone’s issue, involving men and women of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethic backgrounds. He spoke about the danger of generalizations and stressed the importance of an approach where men are not viewed as potential perpetrators but as empowered bystanders with the voice to confront abuse.

A former high school football star, Dr. Katz became the first man at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to earn a minor in women studies. A college journalist, he chose that discipline after realizing the relative freedom and safety of his co-ed experience differed from that of his female peers, who lived with a realistic concern about assault. Dr. Katz earned a master’s from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a doctorate in cultural studies and education from UCLA. An activist, author and filmmaker, he also maintains a blog about masculinity and politics for The Huffington Post.