This past week I attended Geneseo’s eighteenth annual cultural harmony week. I participated by attending the screening of a film entitled “The Mask You Live In.” I had previously watched this film in my gender and sexuality course I look last semester with Dr. Scott. Re-watching it gave me the ability to look at the film in a different light. I was able to look at it to notice and learn connections on what brings boys and men together as well as, what binds them. I also noticed what drives boys and men away from girls and women.
It has been said that the phrase “Be a man” is one of the most destructive phrases to tell a young boy. The notion of “being a man” includes rejecting everything that is feminine by rejecting the idea of weakness. This rejection causes boys to constantly prove themselves to show that they are indeed masculine. Masculinity is then tied to the ideas of athleticism / athletic ability which include speed, strength, and other special skills. Masculinity is also tied to economic success and the power of possession which leads to the fact that someone will always have more. A third tie to masculinity is sexual conquest which often leads to the de-humanization of women. All of this leads to sexism which is the idea of being against girls and rejecting all that is feminine.
These ties to masculinity bond men and boys. For example, men are known to bond through sports so if you have any type of athletic ability you’re welcomed into the club of being a man. On the other hand, if you do not possess any athletic ability you can be outcast from the rest. This only increases with age. By the time boys reach high school they are five times more likely to commit suicide. This higher rate of being more likely to commit suicide could be due to the loss of intimacy in friendships because any signs of intimacy could be seen as a sign for being potentially gay. Intimacy within relationships is also seen as feminine because sensitivity is feminized.
Although boys lose intimacy with friendships as they age friendships also bond them. Sexual conquest is another sign of masculinity and many men enjoy sharing the details of theses so called conquests with their friends. Despite the bonding that can occur if multiple friends engage in sexual actions with the same woman this can cause issues. We see this in Fledgling because Wright was fine with sharing Shori with Theodora, Celia, and Brook but grew to be upset when he found out he had to share with Joel. This tie leads into the de-humanizing of women because they are now seen just as sexual objects there to please men. Shori’s bite is filled with venom that binds her symbionts and because Wright was the first one we see that he is highly possessive of Shori. Furthermore, this ties to not only hook-up culture, but also rape culture. Both cultures include predatory, non- consensual actions which we have seen multiple times this semester.
Below is the film’s trailer: