Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.
The Mask You Live In
Jennifer Siebel Newsom is a documentary filmmaker who examines gender-based social norms and their impact on children. In 'The Mask You Live In,' the practice of socializing boys to be hypermasculine and its effect on society is scrutinized. The questions in this asset will guide classroom discussions about this film.
The questions in this section explore the social norms for boys.
- The film opens with a George Orwell quote, 'He wears a mask and his face grows to fit it…' What do you think the quote means? Why do you think the filmmaker chose this quote? Provide an example from your life of this quote in action.
- What does 'be a man' mean in today's society? What effect does this phrase have on boys? What are some character traits and actions that are associated with masculinity? Compare the expectations of girls and boys. How do you think the differences affect all children?
- Compare scientific gender differences to culturally-based gender differences. Where do boys get messages about masculinity? What are some ways you've been conditioned to behave based on gender norms?
- How has fatherhood changed over the last couple of generations? How are fathers relearning their role? What challenges do they face?
- Compare relationships between men to relationships between women. How do social messages inhibit men's relationships? Why do boys bully each other?
The questions in this section will help students understand the problems associated with society's view of masculinity.
- How are alcohol, drugs, and sex used as a substitute for intimacy? Why do many boys feel that they need these crutches? What are the consequences of masking true feelings?
- Compare the symptoms of depression in boys to girls. What are the dangers of misdiagnosing depression? What are some solutions?
- What are the masks you wear? What is behind the mask? Why do you think we wear masks? Are your masks effective? Explain your answer.
- What are some signs that boys' needs are not being met in society? Why is mentorship important? What are the qualities of a good mentor? Why is it difficult to find good role models?
- Describe the archetypes of men in movies, music, video games, and other media. What benefit do these types of messages have for advertisers? How do these messages impact boys? Provide an example of a movie character that presents an unhealthy example of masculine behavior.
- What messages does pornography send to boys? How does pornography contribute to dehumanization of girls? What are the consequences for men? What are the consequences for women?
This section contains questions that help students understand the solutions for helping boys become more psychologically healthy.
- Explain the code of silence. How does it prevent men from making ethical decisions? What can men do differently to support women and build integrity?
- What are some factors that lead to criminal violence? How is violence related to the masculine ideal?
- What is a father wound? How can it be healed? What are the benefits of connecting the heart to the head? What are the consequences if these wounds are not healed?
- What can parents do to help their sons feel secure and maintain a healthy view of masculinity? What are some characteristics of psychologically healthy men? Generate an example of healthy masculinity.
- What shifts should coaches and other mentors make in their approach to better support boys?
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