The Bystander Moment: Transforming Rape Culture at its Roots

Featuring Jackson Katz

The #MeToo movement has shined much-needed light on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and abuse and created unprecedented demand for gender violence prevention models that actually work. The Bystander Moment tells the story of one of the most prominent and proven of these models – the innovative bystander approach developed by pioneering scholar and activist Jackson Katz and his colleagues at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society in the 1990s.

Drawing on examples from news and entertainment media throughout, Katz introduces the basic ideas and pedagogical practices that inform the bystander approach, which has now been implemented across the professional and college sports culture, in all branches of the US military, and in a growing number of corporate and other institutional settings. He gives special focus to how the bystander approach targets peer culture dynamics – especially male peer culture dynamics – that help to normalize abusive behaviors toward woman and girls while silencing other men in the face of these patterns of abuse. And he shows how these deeply gendered dynamics are at the same time deeply inflected by intersectional factors like race, ethnicity, and class. In the end, Katz also stresses the crucial importance of appealing to people not as potential perpetrators or passive spectators, but as active bystanders and potential leaders who have a positive role to play in challenging and changing the sexist cultural norms that too often lead to gender violence.

The Bystander Moment is the first video of its kind to clearly lay out the basic principles and practices that inform this unique approach to bystander education, and to clarify how it differs in fundamental ways from other “bystander intervention” models that downplay the role that gender norms, especially our cultural ideas about manhood, play in reinforcing attitudes that can lead to gender violence. The result is an indispensable educational tool in the ongoing struggle to prevent gender violence and promote gender equality, and a powerful resource for those working to prevent discrimination, abuse, and violence against LGBTQ people and bullying in all of its forms, as well as in the fields of suicide prevention and alcohol abuse education.

About Jackson Katz

Jackson Katz, Ph.D., is internationally renowned for his pioneering scholarship and activism on issues of gender, race and violence. He has long been a major figure and thought leader in the growing global movement of men working to promote gender equality and prevent gender violence. He is co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP), one of the longest-running and most widely influential gender violence prevention programs in North America, and the first major program of its kind in the sports culture and the military. MVP introduced the “bystander” approach to the sexual assault and relationship abuse fields; Katz is a key architect of this now broadly popular strategy. Since 1997 he has run MVP Strategies, which provides sexual harassment and gender violence prevention/leadership training to institutions in the public and private sectors in U.S. and around the world.