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Storming Against Violence - A Victorian Women’s Trust Initiative
The following material forms part of the resources created during the Storming Against Violence Week of Action: 13th – 17th February 2012, presented by Dr. Jackson Katz and hosted by the Victorian Women’s Trust. Contact Details:
Victorian Women’s Trust,
Level 9, 313 La Trobe Street,
Melbourne Vic 3000.
Phone: +61 3 9642 0422,
For further information, email [email protected].
Please note: This material may be circulated or reproduced, with an acknowledgement of its author and The Victorian Women’s Trust. Leadership Issues for Men
by Dr. Jackson Katz
These issues aren’t just men’s issues. As far as I am concerned, they are leadership issues for men. Of course they’re also leadership issues for women, but they’re leadership issues for men. What does that mean? It means that any man who is a leader and who sees himself as a leader – whether it’s family, faith, community, political, business leadership and so on – by definition of their leadership need to be engaged with these issues, knowledgeable about these issues, and need to figure out how to use their platform of leadership and influence to make a difference, not because they are nice guys helping out but because they are leaders and we expect leaders to deal with these issues in 2012. If they are not doing this, they are not being good leaders. If they are not doing this, they are in some cases failing in their leadership and we need to push them to be better leaders, because really this is about leadership. This is about setting priorities and setting the tone at the top. Men in sport as role models in male culture
Sport is a theme throughout the week and certainly today. I work extensively with professional athletic organisations in the United States, Canada and Australia, also in college and university athletic systems, and I created a program called the MVP Mentors and Violence Prevention Program. This is the 19th year and we are trying to expand in all different kinds of ways. I just wanted to briefly share with you how we came to work in the sports culture around these issues, because I think it’s topically relevant. I’m actually going to start with a brief beer anecdote (I know it’s a bit early to be talking about beer, but I’ve worked with the US Marine Corp for the last 15 years and one of the first presentations that I did was with them. I said “It’s a little early to be talking about beer” because it was 8 in the morning and someone quickly corrected me “It’s never too early to be talking about beer. It’s beer thirty somewhere in the world right now”!) Bear with me, because this is a US beer reference. It’s about light beer. You know light beer? The concept of the product? I’ll just give you a mini-history of light beer and how it came to be: In 1972 Miller Brewing Company bought the rights to Meister Brau Light. Meister Brau Light was a beer that Meister Brau – a small Chicago brewerym – had been attempting to market to women as a diet beer. Not surprisingly, Meister Brau had been unsuccessful in their marketing of this diet beer concept to women, but Miller now owned the rights and their market research showed that men wanted a beer that wasn’t going to fill them up but didn’t want to be drinking a beer that appeared to be feminine in its connotations. Certainly, in 1972, concern with calories was seen as a very feminine preoccupation. So Miller had a problem because men comprised approximately 80% of the beer market in the United States. So what did they do? They hired a series of hyper-masculine US football players to promote the product. Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith were the first two – I don’t expect you to know those names, but they were iconic, tough guys. One was a white guy, one was an African American guy. They put them in a TV commercial. They put them in a bar room with a light beer in their hand, surrounded them with their mates, and always had women walking by for any number of unacknowledged sub-textual reasons. The unspoken message of the light beer campaign was “Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith can drink light beer and no one is going to accuse them of being wimps, so you can too!” This was one of the most successful advertising campaigns in the history of US advertising. In the late 70s it won one of the TV advertising excellence awards and up until about eight years ago or so it became the beer of the national football league. So, it went from being a wimpy diet beer in the early 70s to the official beer of the national football league. How did that happen? I think it was a simple insight by a marketing or advertising person that men could change their behaviour around their purchase and consumption of this product – a gendered, feminine product. Men were permitted to do so by the leadership of men who already had some status. So if Dick Butkus and Bubba Smith take the risk of being associated with light beer, it’s easier for other guys, right? You see this in the advertising all over the world. I’m sure whenever a product line is trying to move a historically been seen as a women’s product into the market of men, you have tough guys, right? Do you have Viagra commercials in Australia? Do you have sexual enhancement drugs? Do you have iconic males selling sexual enhancement drugs? No. Okay, this is all over the US media: tough retired football guys who are a little bit older saying, “It’s okay to take the pill”. Professional basketballers, guys like Charles Barkly and big MJ market for Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers is quite feminine so you have this huge honking athlete saying, “I lost 32 pounds on Weight Watchers”. If men who have already achieved a certain level of status in male culture will say “You know what, we need to address these issues. We need to get serious about this stuff. We need to take a stand. We need to take some risks. We need to challenge each other”, it opens up space for other men to do so. I work with the sports culture, not because there is necessarily a problem with athlete men assaulting women – although there is this problem – but because it’s the positive platform of leadership that sports culture plays and can play. When you challenge men in positive ways you get a lot of positive response. If you go in with your finger pointed, “You guys better stop doing bad things to women” it doesn’t work very well, but if you go in and say “Come on guys, we need more men with power and strength and integrity to stand with women, to work against these problems and challenge each other”, guys will respond positively. I know it. We’ve done it and we are continuing to do it. It works as a positive approach. I’m going to wrap up with just a couple of viewpoints. If any of what I have been saying this week is of interest to you there is so much more. There is so much more information, ideas, websites and work going on around different parts of the world. We are doing it right here – some of this stuff that is happening here in Melbourne is cutting edge. It’s great having various sectors represented: leadership in racially diverse men and women. This is really good stuff and we need to do more of it.


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