top of page

The Mask You Live In

     This is the opening image in The Mask You Live In. These words act as the foundation for the rest of the documentary. The recurring theme of hiding behind a mask describes the current dilemma at hand; men are expected to conform to western gender roles even before they are born. 

     Throughout the documentary, a lot of hot topics today are touched upon and related back to the idea of masculinity. Substance abuse, bullying, violence, sexual harassment, domestic abuse, and suicide are all associated with the western pressures on men to embody the male ideal, both mentally and physically. Teachers and experts in various fields offer examples and reasoning behind why American men are the way that they are. 

     As an atypical response, I created a poetry piece. After being inspired by Guante's spoken word performances of Ten Responses to the Phrase 'Man Up' and Handshakes, I decided to make my own performance poetry piece. This poem reflects the issues addressed in the documentary from my own reactions. As a female of European descent, I figured that my perspective on the documentary would be unlike many other responses one could find elsewhere. 

Masks of Men


Shadows pinned from cheek to cheek

Boys roam our planet as zombies.

Fathers spit shrapnel

Branding boys forever.

Beneath the flesh,

A tug-of-words

Impossible to win.


A bullet’s kiss

Draws tears of blood,

Covertly unveiling emotion.

Gin is glue-- Tequila, the tape

That hold the pieces together.


Denied the right to bear their hearts

Boys cling to masculinity’s raft.

Gays are shamed and women claimed,

Objects for men to dominate.

Without an outlet to stream concerns

Emotions convert to rage.

Shoot. Reload. Repeat.


The men we love

Recede from light

And bathe in discrete shadows.

Why, I ask,

Is crying weak

And bleeding strong

When we all bleed

But don’t all cry?

bottom of page