discussion responses

Learning Goal: I’m working on a cultural studies discussion question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.

1. What is your understanding of the “bystander” approach?

I understand that the “bystander” approach is someone that will stop another person from continuing to humiliate another. A bystander, as Kar mentions, is not necessarily the abuser or the victim but someone present during the act of abuse. The approach is to stop people from continuing the hurting others by making fun of or saying something inappropriate about a group of people or someone specific. Katz gave an example that I feel is a great way to communicate our disagreement. “We need men to say, “Hey, that’s not funny; that could be my sister you’re talking about. Could you joke about something else? Or could you talk about something else? I don’t appreciate that kind of talk.” (Katz, 2013) When the joke becomes offensive toward a woman or anyone, we need to speak up and stop being afraid of doing the right thing. “Men are more likely to make insensitive comments about women that they would never make about people of color.” (Koppelman, 2019, p 239) It is because, as Katz mentioned, men do not challenge each other; they go along with whatever the other guy says. If we keep quiet, the problem will never disappear. There is a saying in Mexico, “The brave man lives until the coward wants.” The oppressor will be in power until the oppressed revolt.

Explain an incident you have witnessed or participated in that demonstrates the “bystander” approach mentioned in this video.

I recall being at Disneyland and having my niece with me. It was her first time there, and we were both excited to be sharing that moment. My husband was walking behind us, letting my niece and I enjoy our time together. I tend to be distracted, so I bumped into a guy who happened to be hugging his girlfriend. I looked at the guy that I bumped into, and I apologized. The guy’s response was not cordial as I expected. The guy looks at me and says, “watch where you are going.” Of course, I felt horrible because my apology wasn’t good enough for him. My husband was behind my niece and me the whole time and witnessed everything. My husband approaches the guy and tells him, “Watch how you speak to women; she already apologized to you.” I felt proud of how he handled the situation without aggression. Standing up for what we think is right without violence could be a great start to ending sexism.


To me, the bystander approach means putting an end to your personal silence and standing up for something you believe in. In this TED talk, Jackson Katz gives an example of standing up to a friend if they make a sexist comment (10:40). I think that most of the time people stay quiet in order to not cause any drama, but staying silent does more harm than good. If someone was being sexist and they were confronted by their friend, they would probably consider their constructive criticism and hopefully change their behavior.

I think another benefit of the bystander approach is that people face an uncomfortable situation in order to shine light to people’s wrongdoings. No one wants to be that person to point their finger and say “Hey, you’re wrong,” especially when it’s in a group setting and everyone is laughing, talking, or agreeing with one another. But, I think it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in, especially if it’s regarding sexism or putting other people down. I have personally heard others comfortably throw out the word “feminist” every time another person goes out of their way to stand up for a woman. According to Koppelman, “A feminist is a woman—or a man—who advocates for the personal, social, and economic equality of women” (p. 247.) As a matter of fact, we should all be feminists since everyone should truly be advocating for women’s equality.. the same that is automatically done for men.

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