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The Mask You Live In (3 Questions)

The Mask You Live In

Peer presentation

Intercultural Communications


The Mask You Live In is a documentary film from 2015 from director Jennifer Siebel Newsom that takes a look at how our societies culture and view of masculinity is affecting boys and men today


We ask the question, is our definition of masculinity flawed?

Emotional Development

Boys and girls start out very similar emotionally. Masculinity is an aspect of the greater gender roles constructed by societal values and traditions. Unfortunately, traditional American gender roles stifle healthy emotional development in boys

Acknowledging emotions other than anger and defiance are effeminized and ridiculed in boys

Young boys are taught to hide and ignore emotions which leads to




Acting out


Bad grades


Male Role Models

Media and Sports

Strive for the following traits/characteristics








Divorce and single parent homes

No father/male figure at home

Abusive dating partners


Drinking and Partying

Sex, sex, sex

Peer Pressure


Joe Ehrmann, coach and former NFL player, states in the movie “the great myth in America today is that sports builds character.. Sports does not build character unless a coach teaches it and models it” (Newsom, 2015)

Our culture portrays certain stereo types of what role models are for you boys and young men to look up to..

But in reality they are dealing with

Peer Pressure

Alpha male hierarchy


Group shaming

Pecking order


Name calling


Momma’s boy


Little girl

Boys have to deal at a very early age, many as young as pre-school, with expectations of what it means to be a “man”

Cultural Influences (Nurture)

Boys are taught from early on that

Definite blue for boys vs pink for girls

Toys – army men, footballs

Clothing – camo

Guns for boys, dolls for girls

A Real Man


Good looking

Quiet and strong


Women are seen as

Sexual Objects


Tools of physical gratification



Boys tend to lean toward violent video games

Comparing nurture vs nature, the documentary explores the influences via examples of commercials for boys vs girls…

As a result of all this…

Biological Influences (Nature)

Dopamine rush from violence and nudity is addictive

Hormones are silent drivers of personality and behavior

Society encourages girls to acknowledge and talk about their emotions

Media examples of “real men” generally stay in the orange, red, and purple sections of this emotional spectrum graphic

Boys who exhibit emotions in the rest of the spectrum are viewed as weak, feminine, and are ridiculed


Another view of what masculinity means to men

The Mask You Live in has a runtime of 1 hour 37 minutes but the link below also references an article and short video from the on the topic

The article questions “in a world of both gender inequity and rapidly shifting gender roles, what does masculinity really mean?” (Genuske, Gray & Vagianos, 2015)

The article closes with saying “every man we spoke to agreed on is that having fewer limitations on what men and women “should” and “shouldn’t” do is a win for everyone” (Genuske, Gray & Vagianos, 2015)


View the video here – #



The Mask You Live in takes time to point out the flaws in todays perception of masculinity but fails to deliver a message of how to change it

The film underscores the need for greater self-awareness and a more balanced approach to gender roles so boys and men are more likely to develop into well-adjusted members of society

This topic raises the importance of proper role models and the harmful influence of violent, dominant male stereotypes in media

Does the definition of masculinity in our culture deprive boys and men from exploring different aspects of their identities?




Genuske, A., Gray, E., & Vagianos, A. (2015, January 23). This Is What Masculinity Really Means To Men. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from #


Newsom, Jennifer S. (Director). (2015). The Mask You Live In [Motion picture]. USA: The Representation Project.

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