Thursday 9 January 2014

Boys Will Be Boys (or However We Make Them)

Divorce, spousal abuse, child abuse, crime, violence, violence against women, the list goes on and on. Then there is the list of depression, drug abuse, and suicide. What's going on? Bad seeds? The bad apple of the bunch? Or is there a bigger picture problem, a systemic lack of proper guidance in our society? Are we all, the collective we, peer groups, television, movies, family, and even parents inadvertently or deliberately passing down to boys messages which conflict with what we say we hold as values in our culture? Be a man. Don't cry. Be brave. Don't be a wimp.

The Representation Project: Our Mission
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.

The Mask You Live In: a film coming in 2014
Compared to girls, research shows that boys in the U.S. are more likely to be diagnosed with a behavior disorder, prescribed stimulant medications, fail out of school, binge drink, commit a violent crime, and/or take their own lives. Jennifer Siebel Newsom's new documentary film, The Mask You Live In, asks: As a society, how are we failing our boys?

At a young age, boys learn that to express compassion or empathy is to show weakness. They hear confusing messages that force them to repress their emotions, establish hierarchies, and constantly prove their masculinity. They often feel compelled to abide by a rigid code of conduct that affects their relationships, narrows their definition of success and, in some cases, leads to acts of violence resulting in what many researchers call a “boy crisis.” Our society’s failure to recognize and care for the social and emotional well-being of our boys contributes to a nation of young men who navigate adversity and conflict with an incomplete emotional skill set. Whether boys and later men have chosen to resist or conform to this masculine norm, there is loneliness, anxiety, and pain.

The Mask You Live In documentary will examine how gender stereotypes are interconnected with race, class, and circumstance, and how kids are further influenced by the education system, sports culture, and mass media- video games and pornography in particular. The film also highlights the importance of placing emphasis on the social and emotional needs of boys through healthy family communication, alternative teaching strategies, conscious media consumption, positive role modeling and innovative mentorship programs. -KickStarter: The Representation Project

"There are three words that have become the most culturally destructive mandates in this culture. BE. A. MAN. If we could change these these words, we could change the world."
-Joe Ehrmann, Former NFL Player, Coach and Director of Coach for America

Published on Dec 18, 2013 by The Representation Project
The Mask You Live In - Trailer
From the team behind Miss Representation. Coming in 2014, an exploration of American masculinity.

CDC: Youth Suicide
Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81% of the deaths were males and 19% were females.

CDC: Youth Violence (PDF)
Among homicide victims 10 to 24 years old in 2010, 86% (4,171) were male and 14% (657) were female.

Boys are less aggressive when raised by a lesbian couple
As reported by the University of Southern California, a study of children raised by gay parents showed differences in their behaviour from those raised by heterosexual parents. For example, boys raised by lesbians appear to be less aggressive and more nurturing than boys raised in heterosexual families. While the aggressiveness of males may be attributed in part to the genes of the species, is aggressiveness also a learned behaviour? A study showing that lesbian parents have less aggressive boys would seem to point out that if Junior's a tough guy, he may have gotten that way from imitating dear old Dad.

Final Word
I sometimes find we dismiss somebody as bad. Put him in jail; let him learn his lesson. But doesn't this seem to happen over and over again? How exactly did this person get here? What happened? What went wrong? Are we collectively making the same mistake over and over again?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating coddling anybody. If somebody does something bad; they're bad and society must protect itself. But I would ask if the collective we has created and is maintaining an environment which is conducive to the bad thinking and bad behaviour we would all like to eradicate. As the cartoon character Pogo so astutely observed, "We have met the enemy and he is us."


Facebook: The Mask You Live In

Twitter: The Mask You Live In

The Representation Project: The Mask You Live In

official web site: The Representation Project

YouTube: The Representation Project:
FYI: It is "MissRepresentation2" since somebody else already had the name.

Wikipedia: Jennifer Siebel
Jennifer Lynn Siebel (born June 19, 1974) is an American documentary filmmaker, actress and the wife of former San Francisco Mayor and current Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom. She is the director, writer and producer of the film Miss Representation, which premiered in the documentary competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

my blog: Miss Representation: You can't be what you can't see
Miss Representation is a 2011 American documentary film written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. It explores how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women. The film premiered in the documentary competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. (Wikipedia)

The Good Men Project - Jan 1/2014
A Scarcity of Affection Among Men by Jackson Bliss
One of the pernicious consequences of living in a country still struggling with homophobia, social verticality and patriarchy, is not just the rigid gender roles this system imposes on men (and obviously women), but also the way it prevents grown men from expressing love, gratitude and affection to each other (and often to their sons). Because of this, many boys grow up seeing affection as inherently unmasculine because their fathers never modeled affection and unconditional love as a constituent part of their own masculinity.


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