Exploring Gender Roles and Cultural Stereotypes
What are we teaching today’s generation about gender roles? Is it time to challenge and overcome stereotypes? Here are two films that reflect on current culture. Will they inspire community transformation? You tell us. The Mask You Live In and Miss Representation are currently available on Netflix.
The Mask You Live In
The Mask You Live In follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity.
Pressured by the media, their peer group, and even the adults in their lives, our protagonists confront messages encouraging them to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify and degrade women, and resolve conflicts through violence. These gender stereotypes interconnect with race, class, and circumstance, creating a maze of identity issues boys and young men must navigate to become “real” men. Experts in neuroscience, psychology, sociology, sports, education, and media also weigh in, offering empirical evidence of the “boy crisis” and tactics to combat it. The Mask You Live In ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.
Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation exposes how mainstream media and culture contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.
The film draws back a curtain to reveal a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see – how the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls makes it difficult for women to feel powerful and achieve leadership positions.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message we receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 33rd out of the 49 highest income countries when it comes to women in the national legislature. And it’s not better outside of government. Women make up only 4.6% of S&P 500 CEOs and 17% of directors, executive producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists, and academics, like Katie Couric, Rosario Dawson, Gloria Steinem, Margaret Cho, Condoleezza Rice, Rachel Maddow, and Nancy Pelosi, build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken, but armed with a new perspective.
Synopses provided by The Representation Project.