How Masculinity, Media, and Societal Expectations Fail Our Boys

In the summer of 2012, I watched Miss Representation by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a documentary that explores media’s misrepresentations of women and how it has led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. This documentary revealed the detrimental impacts of media’s representations of women on young girls in North America. Therefore when Siebel announced that she would be making a new documentary The Mask You Live In which explores the pressure of masculinity on boys, I was more than thrilled.

The Mask You Live In aims to investigate the question, how does society fail our boys? While this film focuses on boys in the U.S. it is still relevant to societal expectations and pressures of masculinity portrayed through mass media all over the globe. The film examines how societal standards of boys and men being emotionally unattached, among other “manly” characteristics, has affected an entire generation of young men.

“Compared to girls, research shows that boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives.”

Image (and more information about The Mask You Live In) at: http://therepresentationproject.org/films/the-mask-you-live-in/

From a young age, boys have been programmed to think that to express compassion or empathy is a sign of weakness. The mixed messages they hear lead them to repress their emotions, create hierarchies, and constantly prove their masculinity. Consequently, they often feel compelled to abide by a rigid “boy” code that affects their relationships, narrows their definition of success and, in some cases, leads to acts of violence. Our society’s failure to recognize and care for the social and emotional well-being of our boys contributes to a nation of young men.

The Mask You Live In will examine how gender stereotypes are interconnected with race, class, and circumstance, and how kids are further influenced by the education system, sports culture, and mass media- video games and pornography in particular. With recent incidents, such as the Steubenville rape case, and violent shootings from Colorado to Sandy Hook, the film seeks to link violence with the underlying issues of masculinity and emotional detachment. Therefore her new film is especially pertinent to real issues that affect this generation of youth.

For more information about the film, and how you can be a part of this campaign, Siebel has launched a project on Kickstarter to fund her documentary, so feel free to check it out and show your support!

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