What does it mean to be a man?

Part 3: A Story about Masculinity

1. Who are the Characters?

In this video, we first see a series of young boys. In this story, these boys are in the role of innocent victims. While they are onscreen, we also hear a voice-over of scary and destructive messages about masculinity, such as “stop with the crying, stop with the emotions.” Who is giving these messages? We don’t see anyone actually saying these things. The villain is a nameless, faceless series of statements and ideas about masculinity.

Then we see some men and women talking about the problems with masculinity in US culture. These are the heroes of the story, who are coming to rescue the victims (boys and young men) from the nameless, faceless villain.

2. How does the story start? Where does masculinity come from?

After the opening montage of boys’ faces and scary messages, Michael Kimmel’s voice comes on, saying:

“We’ve constructed an idea of masculinity in the United States that does’t give boys a way to feel secure in their masculinity, so we make them go prove it all the time.”

The beginning of the story is that “We’ve constructed an idea of masculinity.” Masculinity comes from the sum of all the things boys hear about masculinity growing up; it comes from culture. This statement also implies that the villains, the people who have constructed this idea of masculinity, is “we.” It’s any and all of us who promote these ideas.

3. What is the middle of the story? Where are we now?

In the middle of this video, we see a bunch of teen guys struggling with how to present themselves as men, hiding their pain and anger, feeling unable to ask for help from those closest to them, contemplating suicide, etc.

Where we are now is that young men are hurting, but there are people who see what the problem is and are trying to solve it. The victims are in grave danger, but the heroes are coming to the rescue.

4. What is the end of the story? What happens or should happen next?

The end of this video is a man’s voice saying: “For my kids, I was going to end this hyper-masculine narrative here.”

So the end is that we no longer have these scary, destructive messages, and thus we no longer have men hiding our emotions, trying to prove our masculinity, trying to get respect by hurting others.

But what do we have instead?

Next, we’ll look at some positive ideas of masculinity, and how you can create your own.

Continue reading Part 4: What kind of man do you want to be?

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