“The Mask You Live In” is a documentary that is trying to understand the crisis of masculinity in American society today. The feminist might say: crisis? what crisis??? We’ve been living in a male-dominated patriarchy for pretty much all of history – it’s time for them to suck it up and deal with the fact that we are finally taking back the power that we deserve.
And we do deserve to have an equal role in society and we do deserve all the advances we’ve made. But in some ways we’ve figured it out for ourselves – for example, girls have been graduating college at higher rates than men for years now. We live longer. We have better social support networks. There is still more to do – especially in developing countries, but as long as we live in a world that also includes men, it is in our best interests to help them to be able to become the very best version of themselves, if only selfishly because we will benefit from it.
And I’m guilty of propagating the limiting male stereotypes myself. I was running in the park the other day and there are these two normal looking dudes there flying a kite together, no kids or girlfriends etc. in sight. And I snickered to myself. Why did I do that? Is there something inherent about flying a kite that I automatically associate as being ‘un-masculine’ and so men can only do it in the presence of children or women? Clearly not, its 100% cultural – as I embarrassedly realized when I tried to jokingly mentioned the scene to one of my Ecuadorian guy friends, who didn’t understand at all to what I was insinuating. In Ecuador kite flying has a long tradition and I know this, but my American cultural stamping still is very present, there under the surface. And its ugly.
It gets some side attention, but the reality is in the whole gun control debate, the single most predictive factor to who is going to become the next mass shooter is being male. Almost all the mass shooters have been male. Im all for more gun control, because as a modern society we shouldnt need such elements of violence at easy access, but we also have to realize there is something deeper happening. The same with the ‘me too’ movement. Yes, some women have been the perpetrators – but the vast majority of the people enacting sexual violence on others are men. And it affects all of us.
In Ecuador, its culturally acceptable for men to show physical affection to their male friends, to literally to touch each other as friends, more than I ever remember seeing in the US. I was slightly shocked to see two Ecuadorian teenage boys, arms slung casually around each other’s’ shoulders, just walking down the street like that. Not hiding their affection through rough-housing as is very often the case, but just talking and walking normally. And it was ok. Latino culture, for all its other problems with machismo, seems to have a better handle on male affection. I was often struck by how often my old boyfriend’s roommate (who is from Spain) would casually put his hand on my boyfriend’s shoulder or arm while they were talking. And just leave it there. And everyone seemed fine with it. Or in Argentina men kiss each other on the cheek as a greeting; they kiss everyone: friends, coworkers, your father. When was the last time you kissed your father?
I have long felt that the differences between men and women are overly exaggerated. We more human than we are male or female. But what do I know- I grew up in the 80’s when we still had unisex Legos.
Watch it here (legally): https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/the-mask-you-live-in
Maybe less legally: https://media.andover.edu/media/t/1_sojnoe4u/31860481