What does it mean to be masculine? Do you need to be able to lift a certain amount of weight? Or do you have to be good at sports? Does hooking up with a lot of women make you more of a man than a guy who doesn’t? Personally, I don’t consider myself a ‘masculine’ man. Sure I love my occasional binge drinking, pumping iron at the gym and playing basketball with the boys, but I love my romantic comedies and don’t care too much for UFC. My iPod is a nice hot pink and I order the vegetarian dish while my girlfriend gets the steak. Does that make me less of a man? I was very fortunate to have a father that influenced me to be different. Growing up, my dad wasn’t like other dads. He wasn’t totally into sports and he sat in the passenger seat while my mom drove. It was… different. Because of that I realized that a boy doesn’t need to wear blue to be a boy – he’s a boy no matter what color.
The Mask You Live In (2015) directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom investigates the psychological pressures that young boys have to deal with to become ‘men’ in Western society. You might be wondering what men have to complain about? They get the higher paying jobs, higher status and relatively more respect in our communities. Men have it pretty easy. Well, Newsom’s 97 minute documentary says otherwise. It makes the argument that our definition of ‘a man’ in our culture is totally wrong.
If you’re a guy you probably heard someone tell you to ‘not be a pu**y’ about a million times in your life. If you ask my friends, they’ll tell you I’m totally guilty of saying that as well. Our culture sets up masculinity as a rejection of femininity. Men need to be dominant all the time. They’re the ones that need to initiate the move when asking a girl to go out on a date. We can’t show any emotion or we might be ostracized by our peers as being a ‘homo.’ Take a look at all the films you have watched. How are the lead male characters? They’re probably built like a tank, cool and domineering. The athletes that we look up to are the same. Newsom’s documentary disputes that you don’t need to be in control and emotionally detached to be a man. In fact it goes as far as saying that it’s because of these pressures to ‘man up’ that gave rise to the problems in our society. If masculinity is a rejection of femininity, than how do we expect men to look at women as equals?
The biggest thing that I probably took away from The Mask You Live in (2015) is that as men, we are encouraged to hide our emotions. The rise of gun violence in the United States has risen in the past few years. Why are men usually the ones committing the crime? Is it because of our higher testosterone levels? Newsom argues that it’s because men are depressed. When men get depressed, they get violent. Why are they depressed? Well it’s because of the fact that men tend to keep their emotions in. We aren’t allowed to talk about our true feelings. We are supposed to be cool and collected all the time – just like our heroes in the movies.
The Mask You Live in (2015) rating a GOOD watch if you feel like you aren’t ‘manly enough.’ If you take my advice and watch the film or have already watched it, let me know! Please comment below.
Watch the Trailer Here: