New Documentary Explores the Pressures of Male Gender Stereotypes

Illustration for article titled New Documentary Explores the Pressures of Male Gender Stereotypes

The terrifyingly intelligent and beautiful Jennifer Siebel Newsom has launched a project (on Kickstarter, duh) to fund her documentary about the pressures of masculinity on boys today. The film, titled "The Mask You Live In," examines how societal standards of boys and men being emotionally unattached, among other "manly" characteristics, has effected an entire generation of young men.

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Considering Siebel Newsom's success with Miss Representation, the documentary already looks promising. At the root of the film is a problem Siebel Newsom calls the "boy crisis"

"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 who navigate adversity and conflict with an incomplete emotional skill set. Whether boys and later men have chosen to resist or conform to this masculine norm, there is loneliness, anxiety, and pain."

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Siebel Newsom claims that boys in the US are more likely to fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, or take their own lives. Hearing the stories of young boys mimicking the unemotional male models they're surrounded by is pretty heartbreaking. Here's an excerpt from the preview:

"From middle school, I had four really close friends and we did everything together. Once I kind of went into high school I struggle finding people I can talk to about things because I feel like I have to deal with it myself and I'm not supposed to get help."

From the preview, it seems the film seeks to link violent shootings, from Colorado to Newtown, to the underlying problems of masculinity and its relation emotional detachment, which makes Siebel Newsom's film especially pertinent and timely.

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DISCUSSION

Once again, ladies, gentlemen and others... The Patriarchy hurts everyone.

Ugh. Even though women and trans* persons tend to have it a hell of a lot worse in our society, I really do feel sorry for cis men growing up these days. The ones just starting to come to terms with their identity. Because society seems to be asking them to such completely backwards stupid things to define themselves, and then trying to color how they interact with women, how they interact with people of different classes, how they interact with people that don't conform to traditional gender norms...

It's a fucking mess. There's a self-affirming system telling everything born with a penis that it needs to tear lions apart with its bare hands and be a complete jerk to everyone, and that anything else makes you less worthwhile, more of a victim... whatever. It's getting better every day as men and women in our culture make a stand and say "No, fuck that shit," but, I mean, sometimes it feels like we're trying to divert the Louisiana River with bendy drinking straws.

Trans* people have it even worse, of course. Trans* women are attacked physically and emotionally for not being masculine... Trans* men can never be masculine enough to be left alone about it. And genderqueer people... Fuck, man, everyone treats them like fuckin' space aliens if they don't start following one side or another's protocol.

... I wanna go live on a magical island where everybody gets to do what they feel like doin' and the primal quest for identity is "Am I X," not "Am I X enough that nobody'll beat me up today."

Much love to any young men reading this and feelin' these pressures. Don't give in. Don't settle for being Traditionally Manly when you could be Unconventionally Awesome.