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A few years ago, I mentored a group of teen girls at a small, alternative high school. The whole point of the group was just to give these young women a safe space to talk, express themselves, and feel heard and validated. I will never forget how eager the girls were to let their emotions out. I will also never forget all the boys that would linger around the doorway of our little classroom, making jokes and craning necks to get a peek at what was happening inside. They were so transparent, in that unique way that teenagers are, in their desire for the same thing — an opportunity to let their guards down and open up.

By the time my mentoring program was over, I felt good about the help we’d given the girls, but I was left with a terrible feeling: what about the boys? Not only did they not have a similar group to express themselves within their school, the rules of “being a man” prohibited them from opening up in any area of their lives. I’d heard it from my boyfriend, brothers, father, friends: our society’s construct of masculinity is stifling. Young men — all men — deserve better.

In 2014, the brilliant folks behind Miss Representation are coming out with a documentary that explores the topic of masculinity in America, called “The Mask You Live In.” Check out the trailer above, which includes observations from sociologists and candid discussions with young men. They all agree on one thing: the current definition of masculinity hurts everyone. Hopefully this movie sparks a cultural conversation about manhood that is long, long overdue. I can’t wait to see it. [YouTube]

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  • DazFrance

    I love this a lot, its something I have been curious about and wrote about this in uni but from a female standpoint and produced a short film about it. So I’m really excited about this and glad a Conversation is going to be had on how we mask ourselves to keep our head above water in society

  • kno

    What a beautiful/great initiative!!!!

  • guest

    Oh please. Women have no problem with society’s construct of masculinity as long as they continue to benefit from it. It is only when a man’s masculinity provides no direct benefit or is harmful to women and society does anyone pretend to care about men. Disposable objects. Means of production. Human doings, not human beings.

    Like it or not, the traditional definition of masculinity is precisely what kept men in line being productive and holds the entire physical infrastructure together. The PROBLEM is that there is no societal reward nor psychological incentive for men to continue doing these things. In addition, there are severe political and legal minefields that men must navigate that makes the idea of traditional masculinity idea laughable from a cost benefit analysis. As a result, men are shutting down all across the board.

    And this documentary is actually promoting the idea of accelerating this process in boys? Well good luck with that. You’re going to have some extremely angry and resentful young men in a couple of years when they realize that the world doesn’t work like that and they were intentionally fed lies and half truths all in the interest of feel good rhetoric and “fairness”.

    They will reject responsibility and society’s expectations altogether and subscribe to a self destructive subculture where violence and simple dominance hierarchy is the law of the land. They will redefine masculinity in their own way, often to the detriment of other people in the surrounding community. Sound familiar?

    Men must remain productive. If not, society will implode.

    • cheeky

      @guest

      The reality is, is that some facets of traditional masculinity don’t work anymore and are flat-out outdated—the man dosen’t have to have the burden of being the only breadwinner anymore, they don’t have to be married to their jobs, they have found that they can be more involved in their children’s lives—those are changes that feminism brought about—not just for the benefit of women, but also for the benefit of men,too.

      Also, you’re already some years behind the times—these changes have already taken concerning the re-construction of masculinity anyway,so I don’t know where your rantings are coming from. Anyway, read this book called AIN’T I A FEMINIST,which is about black men discussing the positive impact feminism (African-American style) had on their relationships with the women in their lives. You make it sound like the traditional masculinity is the only thin men have to hold onto to define themselves—but it’s not.

  • The culprit is men. Men define masculinity, American men are not allowed to be affectionate towards each other. Why? because other men will become violent in the presence of affection between men. The real culprit is other men.