'The Mask You Live In' documentary addresses society's view of masculinity

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 2:38 PM
"The Mask You Live In" is a documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom that looks at how society's view of masculinity can sometimes lead adults to encourage young boys to disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify women, and resolve conflicts through violence.

In the wake of the ongoing national awareness and conversation about sexual harassment, Rocky Mountain PBS is partnering with various organizations in Colorado to screen a documentary called "The Mask You Live In."

The documentary was written, directed and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, whose premiere documentary in 2011, "Miss Representation," looked at how media contributes to the under-representation of women in positions of influence and power.

"The Mask You Live In" is a film that looks at how boys and young men "struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America's narrow definition of masculinity," according to the film's description.

Newsom says the media, peer groups and adults often put forth a message to young men to "disconnect from their emotions, devalue authentic friendships, objectify women, and resolve conflicts through violence."

After PBS ended its relationship in November with talk show host Charlie Rose, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, Rocky Mountain PBS CEO Amanda Mountain said it was a opportune time to mobilize awareness.

"This powerful film explores how our cultural definitions of masculinity itself may be a key component driving the proliferation of harassment against women," Mountain wrote in an email to the station's members in November.

The Durango Herald is partnering with Rocky Mountain PBS to screen "The Mask You Live In." Other partners include Fort Lewis College and KSUT.

After the screening, a small group of local men and women will participate in a panel to discuss society's expectations of what "masculinity" is and the impact of the film.

Mountain said the panel discussions are important to learn "how harassment is affecting our communities, and perhaps even learn about stories of success in changing the culture. Because that is what we need to do. Change the culture."

If you go

'The Mask You Live In' will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Fort Lewis College Ballroom. After the film, a pre-selected panel of local men and women will discuss the film's message and their own relationship with and research about masculinity. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, email