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“The Mask You Live In” Challenges Loyola Students to Define Masculinity
Image from youtube clip of the trailer of “The Mask You Live In”

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, Dr. Patrick Brugh, professor of gender studies and German at Loyola, led a conversation about the “masculinity mask” introduced in the film “The Mask You Live In.”

The masculinity mask is considered the façade males wear in order to hide whatever true feelings they have. The movie explores how American society’s narrow definition of masculinity affects boys and men. It showed how boys are taught this definition from a young age so that they believe and conform to it as they grow up.

At the beginning of the event, the audience was asked to write three words that first come to mind whenever they hear the word masculinity. Some responses were aggressiveness, tough, athletic, muscular, dominant and unemotional.  

When the film ended, audience members quickly began sharing their thoughts. One student discussed how he identified with one young man from the film who had changed his appearance, voice, friends and interests after being bullied. Another member from the audience identified with a different young man, who described putting on his “mask” each morning before going to school. If he hadn’t adorned this “mask,” he claims it would’ve been dangerous for him to walk down the streets without getting harassed.  

The audience was asked to think whether some behaviors from the film seemed familiar to the Loyola community. Many suggested how hook-up culture teaches young men that there is a certain way they need to act towards their group of friends and towards girls to be socially accepted.

At the end of the event, the audience was asked to reconsider the three words each person wrote down as their definition of masculinity after watching the film. Words like aggressiveness, dominant, unemotional, strong, athletic, and mean that appeared, were replaced with words such as empathy, listener, loving, scared and genuine. The audience left the event with a new perspective of what it means to be a man in today’s society.  

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“The Mask You Live In” Challenges Loyola Students to Define Masculinity