A mask is used to disguise, and sometimes even hide, inner feelings. A documentary is looking to explore masks that are being forced onto young men and boys by society.
A screening of the documentary “The Mask You Live In” on Tuesday at the Wexner Center for the Arts is a co-sponsored event by Ohio State’s Girls Circle Project and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The film takes a look at how boys and young men are expected to suppress emotions, objectify women and use violence to solve conflicts.
“The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, features interviews with experts in neuroscience, psychology and even testimonies from former NFL players. A major discussion in the film is on how the only accepted forms of emotion for men are either happiness or anger.
Although “The Mask You Live In” is geared toward boys and young men, the Girls Circle Project felt this was a great follow-up after last year’s screening of “Miss Representation,” a film that analyzes society’s standards for girls and young women. Both films were produced by The Representation Project, according to its website.
Vicki Pitstick, creator of the Girls Circle Project, said she feels “The Mask You Live In” emulates the beliefs of her organization.
“It allows folks to be their authentic selves, not be judged or put down,” Pitstick said. “If we are educating people about these stereotypes that we are presenting to the world, hopefully we can achieve a more equitable society.”
Pitstick went on to explain how the film touches on topics such as how boys are taught not to cry, not to wear “cocktail colors,” such as pink or purple, and how other similar restrictions don’t allow boys to be true to themselves. She called these restrictions “boxes.”
“People only see someone as male or female,” Pitstick said. “They associate characteristics to that category, and if you go outside that box, you are discriminated.”
Sarah Smith, a member of the executive team in charge of recruitment for the Girls Circle Project and a third-year in social work, described the film as “eye-opening.”
She explained how important gender equality is in today’s society. She said she feels expectations for men and women alike are unrealistic and a problem that has been brewing for quite some time now.
“Society views women and men in different ways,” Smith said. “The media portrays men as tall, muscular, masculine and traditionally good-looking. It’s particularly unfair because there’s only one type of beauty that is accepted as a whole.”
“The Mask You Live In” will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Theater. A discussion with two professors from the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and two male students chosen by the Girls Circle Project led by a moderator will follow.