“‘The Mask You Live In’ is absolutely a powerful documentary about what it’s like to grow up being male. It will stir deep emotions for many of you,” said Santa Clara Unified School District psychologist Chris Glover at the March 25 screening of the documentary at Santa Clara’s Wilcox High School.
Co-sponsored by the PTSAs of Wilcox and Santa Clara High Schools and Peterson Middle School, the 90-minute documentary by filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, presents a troubling look at what it means for boys and young men in American society to “Man up! Be a man!”
“‘Man up!’ is one of the most destructive phrases in this culture,” said former NFL player Joe Ehrmann in the documentary. Underlying the phrase is the message that boys must mask their feelings, act tough, and be aggressive.
“The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January 2015, explores the negative images popular culture—from sports to video games and pornography—sends to boys on how to cope and deal with feelings and relationships. In this macho view, real men drink and use drugs to prove their manhood, value women as potential sexual conquests and strive for financial success and to win at all costs.
The Santa Clara Unified Parents Organization is hosting a follow-up discussion of “The Mask You Live In” April 7, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Santa Clara Northside Branch Library, 695 Moreland Way; and invites parents, students, teachers, coaches and community members to attend. Register at https://scupmaskyouliveindiscussion.eventbrite.com.
“We need to give boys the opportunity to understand that it’s okay to be yourself, not to put on a mask and be someone you’re not,” said Glover.
Watch the trailer for “The Mask You Live In” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc45-ptHMxo. Newsom also produced the 2011 documentary film “MissRepresentation,” which presents the way that mainstream media portrays women in sexually offensive roles.
Visit www.therepresentationproject.org for information, including screening opportunities, locations and dates for both documentaries.
Also, the Wilcox PTSA invites community members to volunteer with the Wilcox High School Mentoring Program. This is a pilot program to provide adult mentorship to students who face extra challenges in life.
“It’s an opportunity to be a positive role model for our students. We need male mentors as well as women,” said PTSA Board member Lillian Kwiatkowski. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. One hundred mentors are needed.