Be a man.
Unfortunately, this simple phrase can cause a lot more harm than good.
Last Thursday, “The Mask You Live In,” sponsored by the Gender and Sexual Diversity Alliance and Women’s Studies Program, was shown for Wittenberg students and faculty. The film, directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, discussed the topic of masculinity – specifically, how this ideal is harming boys at a very young age.
Throughout the film, psychologists discussed the implications of the language associated with masculinity. Phrases like “don’t be a sissy” or “man up” appear in boys’ lives practically from the time they are born. Boys grow up with these societal pressures, and are often times forced to conceal their true feelings in order to protect their manliness.
A plethora of examples and statistics were strategically placed throughout the film, enhancing the severity of the pressures placed upon boys and men in our culture.
Towards the middle of the film, a series of newscasts featuring rapes, violence and murders were shown in sequence, showing the effect that the societal pressure of masculinity can have on men. The film expressed an urgent need to end aggressive violence at its source or before it even begins.
After the film ended, Sierra Mazurowski, ’18, and professor Heather Wright of the Political Science department, presented a list of discussion-based questions for the 30 students and faculty that attended the event. These questions – although mostly aimed at the men in the audience – raised thoughts about the way the Millennial generation has been raised.
The students at the screening began the discussion by reenacting an experiment done in the film. Students were given a blank mask and asked to write the qualities they project on the front and those they hide on the back. Nearly all of the attendees had similar descriptors on the back of their masks. “Hearing someone else write what you wrote makes it so much more real,” Dennis
LoConti, area coordinator of New Hall, stated. “It makes that feeling more concrete.”
As a whole, both students and faculty came together to see how they individually can make a change, to lessen the pressure of masculinity on both boys and men. A resounding theme emerged from this discussion: we can talk all we want, but we must act.
As the film said in conclusion, “We all have a role to play in creating a healthier culture.”
Be a man.