Jackson Katz is one of my idols. His discussion of the toxic masculinity in our society is one that inspires my feminism. Katz has been instrumental in talking about violence against women, a conversation that is particularly pertinent on college campuses across the nation considering that one in five college women is going to be raped and that the likeliest time a women is going to experience sexual assault is her first two weeks of college. This in and of itself is why I am disappointed to call myself a Tar after seeing the detastable yik yak response to Jackson Katz’s talk.
Why is it necessary to denigrate and ultimately prove Katz’s point on an anonymous forum? The fact that there were threats of violence and jokes made about sexual assault is why the conversation needs to be had. For those of you who posted or openly made negative remarks about Katz, joked about sexual assault, or violence against women in general, I want you to understand something. You were likely saying these things around a survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence.
Statistically speaking, at least one person in your RCC or who was sitting around you has had to go through the trauma of sexual assault or domestic violence and there you were making a joke about it.
You likely triggered someone, meaning that you sent them into a disturbing memory of what happened that they could not pull themselves out of. Someone who heard you might be contemplating leaving our school because of what you said. Someone had to make an appointment with CAPS because of what you said. Someone self-harmed or contemplated suicide because of what you said. Why would you want to do that to someone?
In a digital age of anonymity we often forget that our words have serious and wide reaching consequences. Though the old adage is “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me,” we have seen time and again that this is a lie. What anonymity has allowed individuals to do is to say things online they would never say in person. The things said on yik yak are things that the person would likely not have posted if the forum wasn’t anonymous. This is a very particular brand of cowardice.
I reiterate that I was disappointed to call myself a Tar after seeing the yik yak response to Jackson Katz. Every single one of those posts was an act of violence.
While this may seem like an extreme thing to say but all those comments perpetuated the ideals of rape culture. It perpetuated the very ideas that lead to gross number of rapes and acts of domestic violence happening in our world and our own college campus. So the next time you want to get brave on anonymous forum, remember that you are perpetrator of violence because you have just said to rapists and abusers that you find what they’re doing not only funny but acceptable.