MEDFORD — Now is the time for all good men, especially those in leadership positions, to speak up and stop their sons, brothers, fathers, co-workers and friends from perpetrating abuse against women, children and even other men, said Jackson Katz, author of "The Macho Paradox" and numerous other books and videos.

MEDFORD — Now is the time for all good men, especially those in leadership positions, to speak up and stop their sons, brothers, fathers, co-workers and friends from perpetrating abuse against women, children and even other men, said Jackson Katz, author of "The Macho Paradox" and numerous other books and videos.

"Historically, abuse is considered a woman's issue," said Katz. "And that some good men help out. I have a problem with that."

Katz has participated in gender violence prevention education with men and boys for 18 years. He has lectured about masculinity and gender violence at colleges, prep schools, military installations and before professional sports organizations, challenging the current cultural norm that glorifies — or makes excuses for — violent men.

A former guest professor at Southern Oregon University, Katz returned to the Rogue Valley to offer a training session hosted by Community Works, Jackson County Against Domestic & Sexual Violence and SOU.

The numbers are irrefutable. Nearly all rapes, sexual and physical assaults and school shootings are perpetrated by men, particularly young men. It is past time men break down their defensive posturing and gender-deflecting prose, said Katz.

"We should be further along than this in 2009," said Katz. "We need a more sophisticated and honest discussions about 'What is going on with men?'"

Speaking before key male figures at a "Men's Leadership Breakfast" Friday morning at the Red Lion Hotel, Katz told Jackson County police chiefs, district attorneys and other local leaders that gender violence, while typically relegated to discussions in women's support groups, is actually a man's issue.

"There are men in this room whose daughters have been raped or sexually assaulted," said Katz. "What percent of rape is perpetrated by women? Less than 1 percent. Men commit over 99 percent of rapes. But it's considered a woman's issue? I have a problem with that."

The male-driven media's propensity to depict women and children as objects to be subjected to degradation and abuse is partly to blame, he said.

To demonstrate how media desensitizes violence against women, Katz showed a clip from a professional wrestling match. In carefully scripted and choreographed "matches," the male wrestlers with the bulging muscles screamed obscenities at the females who also were stripped, spanked, slugged and body-slammed.

Some would say the wrestling shows are obvious fake displays. But the key effect of repeated exposure to violence, real or enacted, is to desensitize the psyche, Katz said.

"It normalizes the violence," he said. "Think about the millions of people watching."

Former radio talk-show host Jeff Golden wondered if men should speak up in an organized fashion against media images that portray women in an abused or sexualized way.

"The time is so great to get the message out," said Golden.

Every good man should use his voice to challenge those men who, by word or deed, would hurt others, Katz said.

"We need to stop the complicit silence," said Katz. "When was the last time you saw another adult man challenge another man's sexism?"

Ed Angeletti, ACCESS planning director, also attended the seminar. Angeletti has been a sports coach for his two teenage daughters. He was particularly struck by the statistic that one quarter of all college-age women will be sexually assaulted.

"Any way I can be at the table to support these issues, I will be," he said.

Katz acknowledged it takes strength and self confidence to challenge other men. But he said it is easier when good men are able to make an emotional connection, knowing standing up can change the world for the women in their lives — and for themselves.

"We need to raise the bar a little," Katz said. "Just saying 'I'm not a rapist' or 'I don't beat my girlfriend,' doesn't impress me. I want to know what you are doing to help stop violence against women."

To learn more about Katz's program, visit www.jacksonkatz.com.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.