In 2011, Miss Representation, a feature length documentary film directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, premiered at Sundance and was picked up for distribution by Oprah Winfrey. From this film, a call to action campaign called The Representation Project was launched to call out sexism in the media, and its advocacy efforts continue to this day. Now, Jennifer is back with her follow up film, The Mask You Live In, which looks at the harmful effects of today’s standards of masculinity on young men and boys. This film will premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and today I received this message from Jennifer about the project:
“In 2011, I premiered my first film, Miss Representation, which looked at how media contributes to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. While traveling the world with Miss Representation, I encountered many parents and educators who thanked me for making Miss Representation, but asked, “What about our boys? Isn’t there a boy crises going on? And, how can we help our boys and men be a part of the gender equality solution?” After all, stereotypes hurt everyone, girls and women, boys and men.
As a mother committed to equality — not to mention our children’s health and well-being — these questions sparked my concern and curiosity. So I began research and production on The Mask You Live In to explore what was really going on with masculinity in America and our boys. From interviews with experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education, and media, and, most importantly, young men and boys themselves, it became clear to me that we need to change the national conversation around healthy masculinity. It is my intention that The Mask You Live In spark that conversation, and that you, as the film’s audience, will take action with me to provide support:
First, let us expand what it means to be a man. Masculinity can be about more than physical force, sexual conquest and economic success. These stereotypes are hurting all of us.
Second, let us as parents and mentors model a healthier form of masculinity. It’s up to us to give the next generation a positive representation of being a man that does not hinder their social-emotional growth.
And finally, we have to support boys in being their whole selves — help boys connect their hearts to their heads so they can find the courage and conviction to stay true to themselves.
But let me be clear. It’s not just about boys, not just about men, and it’s not just about parents and mentors – we’re all in this together. Hopefully, The Mask You Live In inspires each of us to take the challenge and help ourselves and the boys in our lives stay true to themselves and overcome limiting stereotypes.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom and The Representation Project team”
You can follow The Mask You Live In online at www.therepresentationproject.org/films/the-mask-you-live-in/ and on Twitter at @MaskYouLiveIn
You can also follow The Representation Project at www.therepresentationproject.org and on Twitter at @TheRepProject and at #notbuyingit