Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 2.59.28 PM“The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘be a man.’” So starts the trailer for the new project by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the mind behind the film Miss Representation. The Mask You Live In speaks to what gender stereotypes are doing to impact American children and teenagers. This time she focuses on “injustices created by gender stereotypes” and how they affect boys. 

This is such important work. I already think constantly about the messages I send my son. People seem to flow so easily into saying things like look at that big, strong boy! or that doesn’t hurt does it?  You’re such a strong little man! I hate that. I don’t want him to grow up thinking he needs to project some macho exterior all time, just as I don’t want my daughter to grow up trying to fulfill some equally frustrating gender stereotype. How do we rescue our kids from these outcomes? Films like this provide conversation starters – they are catalysts for change.

The Representation Project is doing some very important work:

The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change. Interactive campaigns, strategic partnerships and education initiatives inspire individuals and communities to challenge the status quo and ultimately transform culture so everyone, regardless of gender, race, class, age, or circumstance can fulfill their potential.

Dr. Michael Kimmel says at the start of the trailer, “We’ve constructed an idea of masculinity in the United States that doesn’t give young boys a way to feel secure in their masculinity – so we make them go prove it all the time.” How do we support our young men? How do we teach them to turn their backs on stereotypes that aren’t doing anyone any good – but still have a firm hold on our culture? Watching this film is a good start, as is supporting The Representation Project.