The Mask You Live In

  1. Explanation and exploration of hyper masculinity

“The Mask You Live In” grapples with the toxic masculinity theme. It intersperses shocking and powerful statistics with commentary from diverse interviewees of a different race, age, class, experience, and sexuality. The shifting behavioral patterns from childhood to boyhood to youth are amazing, and they demonstrate the entrenched common masculinity notions have become by the time they reach adolescence stage. The documentary says that by holding hypermasculinity as the idea that young boys have to aspire, the society perpetrates homophobia and sexism. It is the exaggerated masculinity that boys have to maintain high regards of some characteristics that make them ‘men.’

  1. “Performing” hypermasculinity

This term refers to practicing the socially constructed gender norms and the definition of a boy. It is exercising and having specific characteristics that will make them ‘strong’ and ‘masculine.’ These narrow behaviors and traits could cause isolation, depression and substance abuse. The boys who do not embrace these traits, such as not crying in public, they are deemed by society to be ‘girlish’ and ‘weak.’

  1. Ways masculinity is imposed on boys

Masculinity is imposed on boys by teaching them to hold in high regards to some characteristics that will make them ‘strong’ and ‘masculine.’ In “The Mask You Live In,” for example, a boy is taught that it is bad to cry in public by the time he is five years. Some perpetuated socially constructed norms equate masculinity with lack of emotions, stoicism, violence, heterosexual sex drive and others. The society ranks those without these ‘dominant’ characteristics at the top, and those who are ‘girlish’ and ‘weak’ at the bottom of the hierarchy of dominance. Boys are told to “be men.”

  1. Difference between sex and gender

In the film “The Mask You Live In,” sex is defined as being biological, and gender is a social construct.

  1. Negative effects of hypermasculinity

“The Mask You Live In” identifies a connection between substance abuse and hyper-masculinity. Boys are more involved in alcohol and substance abuse by the time they reach the teenage. These boys also suffer loneliness and depression, which is hallmarked by violent behaviors and ‘acting out.’ Hyper-masculinity also causes mental health consequences as they give the boys a heavy burden to bear. It also increases violence in the communities and against women, they are the victims of rape and other forms of violence from these ‘men.’