From Miss Representation: “The Mask You Live In”, Exploring American Masculinity

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Compared to girls, research shows that boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, writer, director and producer of the award-winning documentary film Miss Representation, and founder of the non-profit social action campaign of the same name, announces her new film project, The Mask You Live In, an exploration of American masculinity.

The film will examine how gender stereotypes are interconnected with race, class, and circumstance, and how kids are further influenced by the education system, sports culture, and mass media – video games and pornography in particular.

During Ms. Newsom’s travels around the world promoting Miss Representation and gender equality, people kept asking “what about our boys?” Then pregnant with her son, she wondered if the extremes of masculinity formed by cultural stereotypes would be imposed on her own child.

“We’re never going to solve gender equality issues if we don’t take the time to investigate and ultimately comprehend the impact of culture on our boys and men,” she says in the film’s Kickstarter campaign video.

The film also highlights the importance of the social and emotional needs of boys through healthy family communication, alternative teaching strategies, conscious media consumption, positive role modeling and innovative mentorship programs. The goal of the film is to spark a national conversation around masculinity and ultimately create a more balanced society for all.

Through Miss Representation and the impact its social action campaign has achieved, Ms. Newsom has proven that there is demand for this type of storytelling and that documentary filmmaking, along with social action campaigns, can shift consciousness, change behavior, and ultimately transform culture.

The Mask You Live In is currently in production. A Kickstarter campaign launched on July 9th and has raised 45% of the $80,000 budget goal, with 23 days to go. Check out the video here.

  • Jill

    So glad to see that this issue is being examined. While I love all the “girl power” pervasive media messages, I often wonder what is wrong with “boy power” when it’s not talked about or even acknowledged. Part of the reason so many boys are diagnosed with attentional disorders and prescribed medication is because our educational system, especially in the elementary years, is so heavily female dominated and, quite frankly, boys often learn or behave differently than girls. It took me years (and lots of research) to become comfortable with how my sons simply played and approached life, because it was just so fundamentally different from how I did.

  • Norma

    That video is powerful. Thanks for bringing awareness about struggles boys face in our world today. I think that as mankind matures and evolves it will be through men and women understanding, respecting, embracing, and ultimately cherishing our commonalities and differences. I’ve always believed, like Yin and Yang, we NEED the differences between genders to create balance in the world. The key word here is balance…cause the moment one tries to out power the other, everything gets out of whack.