The Mask You Live In (2015)

My earliest memory
was my father bringing me down
to my mother's basement,
putting up his hands
and teaching me how to throw
jabs and punches.
It was there that he gave me
those three words: "Be a man."
"Stop with the tears,
stop with the emotions.
If you're going to be a man
in this world,
you better learn
how to dominate
and control people
and circumstances."
That was a source
of tremendous shame.
I left that room with tears
coming down my eyes,
just feeling that
I wasn't quite man enough.
Football became
a tremendous place to hide.
You can hide
inside that helmet,
you can hide
behind the roar of the crowd,
you get to project this facade,
this persona,
the epitome of what it means
to be a man in this culture.
I thought if I could manifest
this hyper-masculinity,
somehow that would validate
who and what I was.
Certainly my father
would respect that,
see how powerful,
how strong, how tough I was,
then give me
the love and attention
that I desperately wanted.
I'd ask every man
to think about
what age they were,
what was the context
when somebody
told you to be a man.
That's one of the most
destructive phrases
in this culture, I believe.
- Stop crying.
- Don't cry.
- Stop with the emotions.
- Pick yourself up.
- Don't be a chump.
- Don't be a pussy.
- Don't let nobody
disrespect you.
- Be cool,
and be kind of a dick.
- Always keep your mouth shut.
- Nobody likes a tattletale.
- What a fag.
- You little bitch.
- Don't let your woman
run your life.
- Bros come before ho's.
- Get laid.
- Be a man.
- Be a man.
- Grow some balls.
- Man up.
- Man up.
- Man up.
- Man up!!!
- Grow some fuckin' balls!
- Act like a man.
- Be a man.
- Be a man!
NEWSCASTER: Yet again,
another teen
has taken his own life
after being bullied for years.
The details of the gang rape
that took place
outside a high school
homecoming dance
are horrifying.
Three teens
confessed to shooting
an Australian man for, quote,
"the fun of it".
13 people were charged
in the beating death
of a Florida A&M drum major,
a result of a banned
initiation ritual.
The student was found dead,
alcohol five times
the legal limit in his system.
He killed his girlfriend
and then shot himself.
Over 20 little children dead,
he also shot his mother.
The shooting was
apparently pre-meditated.
One gunman,
and he is among the dead.
OFFICER: ( on radio )
3-15 and 3-14 for a shooting
at Century Theaters.
Somebody is shooting
in the auditorium.
( siren wails )
If you really knew me,
you would know I feel
like an outsider at school.
When I'm having a bad day
sometimes it's hard to talk
to somebody about it.
If you really knew me, you
would know that when I'm sad,
I really don't say
anything about it.
I used to hide emotions.
Like, when I'm sad
I wouldn't tell anybody.
And when I'm mad
I wouldn't tell.
For a long time
I didn't have any friends,
so I didn't have
anyone to talk to.
We don't really
talk about feelings
or nothing in our house.
If you really knew me,
you'd know
that sometimes
I feel like I can't be myself.
If you really knew me,
you would know
that I don't really know my dad.
If you really knew me,
you would know that my dad,
he in jail,
and I don't think I've ever
seen him out of jail.
Around fifth grade,
my mother passed away.
Most people don't know
that about me.
If you really knew me,
you would know that my mom
and dad fought over me.
My parents went
through a little phase
where they told us they were
going to get a divorce.
I just needed someone
to talk to about it.
My mom didn't have
no good boyfriends.
We were abused.
I felt like
just giving up on life.
I got bullied
in sixth grade.
I felt like an outcast.
I felt alone for--
for a long time.
KIMMEL: If you walk onto
any playground in America
where there's a bunch of boys
happily playing,
you can start a fight
by asking one question:
"Who's a sissy around here?"
And two boys will go,
"I don't know.
He is, he is, he is,"
and they can have a fight.
Or all the boys will go,
"He is, he is."
And that boy will either
have to fight them
or run home crying.
That idea of being
seen as weak,
as a sissy
in the eyes of other guys,
starts in our earliest
moments of boyhood.
And it follows us
all the way through our lives.
Proving to other guys
that we're not girls,
that we're not women,
that we're not gay.
We've constructed
an idea of masculinity
in the United States
that doesn't give young boys
a way to feel secure
in their masculinity,
so we make them
go prove it all the time.
If I can man up,
why step down from that?
You feel me?
Masculinity is not organic,
it's reactive.
It's not something
that just develops.
It's a rejection of everything
that is feminine.
Sometimes my friends
act like they're tough,
when I feel like
they're not.
From the beginning,
we're taught as boys
to lock down our emotions.
We can't talk about
being afraid,
we can't talk about
being hurt.
We could talk about
being pissed off,
we could talk about
being angry.
We can't talk about
being sad.
If you never cry,
then you have all these feelings
stuffed up inside of you.
And then you can't
get them out.
We put them on that trajectory,
through our popular culture,
through our parenting styles,
through our educational styles
and through assumptions
about natural manhood
and maleness
that we pass along,
that are incredibly
insulting and damaging.
And then there's
a whole social system
that polices them
through this low level of threat
from other men
if they're not man enough.
Today we're gonna get into
how we learned
masculinity as children,
where we learned it from,
who taught it to us.
I'm just going to ask
some of you guys to shout out
the ideas that you had
on it from your childhood.
In my household,
we don't cry.
Showing emotion is like
you're weak.
If you're hurt,
just hold it in.
No tattletaling.
Fight back.
You know, everything
was surrounded around money.
Money, money, money,
money, money.
Be the best,
go for the triple
instead of the double.
It was okay
to be a womanizer.
A man has to be dominant
and in charge and has control.
You know, a man does
everything to the extreme.
Never back down
from anything.
A man uses violence
to solve problems.
The first lie every boy
learns in America is
we associate masculinity
with athletic ability.
Size, strength,
or some kind of skill-set.
I've always felt the pressure
of you need to be buff,
you need to be masculine,
you have to have a six pack.
JOE: Those boys that can catch
a down-and-out,
or hit the hanging curve,
they're elevated.
JASON: I want to play football,
one of the sports,
have fun doing it,
make some money.
Like one of them
TV-type lives.
They're set up
for a tremendous failure
and frustration in life,
because being a man
doesn't have
a single thing to do
with athletic ability.
You think about
all the other boys
on that playground,
they don't just
want to play sports.
They want to do computers
or music or drama or debate.
This past month,
I took part in my first
theater production.
And now I'm looking back,
I wish I had taken part in that
throughout high school.
I don't know, I guess I didn't
because it was something taboo.
You just weren't
supposed to do it.
Second lie every boy
learns is that
we associate masculinity
with economic success.
My name is Jordan Belfort.
The year I turned 26
I made 49 million dollars.
Which really pissed me off
because it was three shy
of a million a week.
JOE: You know,
it's been said that
comparison is the thief
of all happiness.
So if you're building
your sense of masculinity
based on power or possessions,
there's always going to be
someone that has more.
That leads to an
incredibly empty life
of striving for things
at the expense of
what's really important in life.
I've had 8-year-old kids
sit on my couch,
8-year-old boys,
and I'll say,
"So what do you want to be
when you grow up?"
And they'll say,
"A venture capitalist."
There are so many
things wrong with that
that I hardly know
where to start.
The extent to which he comes in
and has already been programmed,
he is going to have very
limited options in his life,
and they will never feel
authentically like his own.
Then the third criteria
is that as a culture
we associate sexual conquest
with masculinity.
Zeke the freak!
This man is a legend
with the ladies!
I can only imagine.
I found the top five
hottest girlfriends
of Derek Jeter.
Men everywhere,
we all salute you.
Associating that with
masculinity is so dehumanizing.
You tapped that ass,
didn't you?
Tell the truth.
You know you tapped
that ass.
You put her in the backseat.
Bam! Code-X.
Look, man, I got a wife.
You got a dick.
You do have a dick,
don't you?
Those words are designed
to keep boys silent,
to keep them
conforming to the construct.
My grandfather is very much
that alpha male type.
He's a former military
drill sergeant.
Good ol' boy
from the South.
He was able to go out
into the world
and sort of pull himself up
by his bootstraps
and very much fulfill the
American dream in that regard.
Granted, he was a white male
in a particular time,
which gave him
access to that success,
even if he was poor
to begin with.
I grew up with
my grandfather's voice,
hearing "You need to be
bigger, stronger, faster."
So I was always
having to prove myself.
And never succeeding.
It made me very insecure,
and not feeling like
I was good enough.
When I was a kid
I had long blonde hair,
I had a very high voice.
I wasn't a cool kid.
I was this awkward little kid.
I sang in choir,
I played clarinet in the band,
but I also played baseball
and football and basketball,
and got to do
all of those different things
and express myself
in all sorts of different ways.
Things changed
around middle school.
I started to get bullied
and made fun of
and get called a fag
or a pussy or a sissy or a wuss.
And that's when the social
pressures really kicked in.
I cut my long hair off,
changed the way I dressed,
I dropped my voice.
I don't even know
when my voice naturally broke,
I have no idea,
because I forced it low.
I played more sports
and joined all the teams.
I dated the head cheerleader
and distanced myself
from people
who were less masculine
than me.
I had a friend who
didn't play sports.
He was kind of effeminate.
He was being picked on
even more than I was.
And instead of me
sort of staying by his side
and being his friend,
I remember to some degree,
making the decision
to just push myself
not to be friends
with him anymore,
to not go to his house, to--
And I remember him asking me
why I did that.
And I couldn't tell him.
I didn't know
what to tell him at the time.
School was a training ground
for me to learn
how to perform masculinity,
to perform to be
one of the guys.
DR: ELIOT: Throughout most of
there's been this belief that
men and women are fundamentally
different creatures,
and it probably begins
with the Bible.
Sex is a biological term.
It refers to which chromosomes
you have.
Two X is female,
X and Y is male.
Gender is a social construct.
These are expressions
of masculinity or femininity,
and both of these are spectrums
and they overlap.
Boys and girls
are far more human
and far more the same
than they are different.
If you gave 50,000
psychological tests to girls,
it would fall out
on a bell shaped curve.
If you gave the same 50,000
psychological tests to boys
it would fall out
on a boy bell shaped curve.
If you superimpose them,
they'd be 90% overlapping.
You've got the shoulders
that stick out on either side,
and those are very
often the traits
that feed
into our stereotypes.
People make the assumption
that because
the brain is biological,
that any sex difference
in the brain
must be hard-wired.
But the brain is plastic.
The brain changes
as a result of experience.
You go through a process called
proliferation and pruning
which is that
you make a whole bunch
of brain connections,
and the ones that you use
are strengthened,
and the ones
that you don't use die back.
Whether it's empathy
or aggression
or spatial ability
or verbal ability,
things that a child
spends their time on,
that's what they're
going to be good at.
Parents from
even before a child is born
start thinking about
the child differently.
They decorate
the room differently,
they buy different clothes.
So this notion that there is
such a thing
as gender neutral rearing
or that parents
are not responsible
for gender differences
is a
psychological impossibility.
HELDMAN: We are becoming
much more bifurcated
in terms of hyper-masculinity
and hyper-femininity.
Girls products
have become much pinker
and boys products have
become much more camo
and much more violent.
And it's not just
in the toys,
but it's also in television
programming and movies.
This hyper-masculinization
and hyper-feminization
reflect a cultural tension
and fear about the fact
that gender
is socially constructed.
And we respond in ways
to try to organize
and simplify the world
that actually end up
simplifying it
to such a great extent
that it puts pressure
on young men and young women
to fit into those boxes.
COACH: You got to go in there
and you got to be tough.
But you can't be sissying out.
By the time
a boy is 5 years old,
he's pretty much taught
that it's not okay
to cry in public.
He may still do it,
but the expectation is
by the time he's 10
that he's perfected it.
And if he's 12
and he's still crying in public,
there's a problem.
Oh, my dear God,
are you one of those
single tear people?
You are a worthless
who is now weeping
and slobbering
like a 9-year-old girl!
POLLACK: Boys are not
encouraged to talk about
any kind of pain
with anyone else.
And when they
do talk about pain,
fathers particularly,
but mothers also,
tend to focus more on
how to solve that
or what they're going to do,
or their actions.
Hit me, hit me,
come on, come on.
Come on, son.
Come on.
Son, left.
CHU: They're learning
how is it possible
for them as boys
to be in the world
and to engage
in their relationships
and to behave in ways
that will be considered
socially acceptable.
And in learning
to accommodate to those ideals,
they're learning to conceal
or just downplay qualities
that are traditionally
associated with girls and women.
Mothers are told that if they
hold a boy too closely,
they're hurting his development.
You're making him
a mama's boy.
Do you want to be
a flying monkey
mama's boy snitch?
Or do you want to be a man?
Now, being a mama's girl,
or Daddy's little girl,
that's wonderful.
But a mama's boy?
It means
somehow he's soft.
Have a great day,
sweetie pie!
We're concerned
that our child
is going to be ridiculed.
We're concerned that our son
will be the target of violence.
And so, we give him
what we think
he needs in order
to avoid that.
Mario, football players
don't cry.
Football players don't cry.
The reason men are less
likely to show empathy,
less likely to show
less likely to bring up children
in that kind of way,
is that they've been
socialized into this.
I was really very moved
by the fathers
who brought their little
4-year-olds and 5-year-olds
to school in the morning,
and how tender
these men were with their sons.
How patient and loving
they were
with these little boys.
So I asked them,
"What do you see in your sons
that leads you to say,
'I hope he never loses that?'"
And the fathers
spoke about their sons'
"out there" quality.
They were
so emotionally open,
and their real joy
in their friends.
And the men felt that
on the road to manhood,
they themselves
had lost touch
with these qualities
in themselves.
And the quandary
for them was,
would they have to silence
the very qualities
that they most valued
in their sons?
It was the most
exquisite sense of dilemma.
STEVEN: My father,
we didn't really
have a great relationship.
His night job was drinking,
he was an alcoholic.
I was afraid of him.
He was a mean man.
He was emotionless,
he didn't care about much.
In his eyes, going to school
wasn't the power behind
what we should
have been doing.
It was get a good job,
get a lot of women,
and then you're a man.
My mother was more
of my striving force.
She taught me that
education was important.
So every year
on Mother's Day, of course,
I would send her
a Mother's Day card,
but also I would send her
a card on Father's Day.
And I would just thank her
for playing both roles
in my life.
The moment I found out
I was going to be a father
was very scary for me.
I was an undergrad,
and my son's mother
told me she was pregnant.
And we were no
longer together.
And I told her
if she wanted
I would raise him.
I would take care of him.
My father didn't raise me,
and this is very important
for me to raise my son.
It's been very hard
to play both roles
as a mother and father
for Jacksen
because I was taught that
men are tough, they're strong.
I spent
a lot of nights crying.
Because he did have feelings
and I had to,
you know,
take care of that.
And then one day,
it clicked,
and it clicked because
Jacksen said to me,
"Daddy, I'm sensitive."
And I was like, "Okay...okay."
So then I just started like,
I started reading a lot,
you know, doing Google searches
on how to be sensitive
and stuff like that.
I started just
asking him how he felt,
like how do you feel,
why are you sad, are you okay?
He taught me
how to be more in touch
with my own emotions
and his as well.
He would cry sometimes,
I would cry with him.
And I would tell him,
"Daddy wasn't allowed
to cry growing up,
but it's okay,
if you need to cry, cry."
It took some time
for me to get there.
Porter: Men are doing better.
Men are much more
loving with their sons
and speak about love,
and hugs and kisses, you know.
Men are much more
purposeful in,
you know, the experience
of nurturing their children
and sharing
in those responsibilities.
So we are getting better.
The fact that we're having
this conversation
speaks to progress.
But it doesn't take away
that there is a lot of work
still to do.
CODY: Growing up
in the household
that I grew up in,
there was a lot of
physical abuse.
My father
used to beat my mother
pretty horrifically,
from my recollection.
My father sold drugs,
and that's how
he made his living.
He was in and out of prison
my entire childhood.
In fact, I think
he was gone
the first 2 years
that I was born,
so I didn't even
really get to
establish that connection
that most young boys
get to establish
with their father.
In middle school
it was extremely
difficult to deal with
because I didn't--
I didn't know
what it meant to be a man.
Like, I did not have
a father figure in my life,
I just had strong women.
I was bullied
a lot growing up
because I'm not the most
masculine of men,
I never have been.
Why am I ostracized
and treated different
because I don't want to fight,
because I don't see the point
in having rampant
unprotected sex
with uncountable women,
and then sitting here
and boasting about it over
booze and smoking a joint?
And yet that's what
society deems as masculine.
I don't value that.
And I think it's because
I still am so close to my mom
and to my grandmother.
And they're both extremely
strong and respectable,
not only women,
they're respectable people.
And so, that to me is
what I wanted to emulate.
One of the things
that came up in my study
has to do with the "mean team,"
which was a team
created by the boys,
for the boys,
for the purpose of acting
against the girls.
This was a
pre-kindergarten class.
In the beginning there was
a little bit of intermixing,
but then by December
of that first year,
the boys versus girls
dynamic had become clear.
And even the hierarchy
among the boys
had become clear.
It had these rules
and these ways of being
and these ways of engaging
each other and behaving.
One of the rules was that they
couldn't play with the girls.
And if you broke
those rules,
you could be fired
and technically,
not be a boy anymore.
One of the boys told me,
"I'm actually friends
with all the girls.
"I actually like the girls.
But if Mike--"
the leader of the mean team--
"finds out, then he'll fire me
from his club,
and then
I won't have a club."
They totally understand,
like kind of,
these are the rules and then
these are the consequences
for their status
among the boys.
GABY: When I was choosing
schools for Roman
to go to kindergarten,
I specifically chose one
that was Christian based.
It seemed that
there was an emphasis on
family values
and kindness.
But by the end of kindergarten,
I started to see a change
in my son's behavior
and the kids around him.
And I would describe
it as, like,
just a hard edge
that got progressively worse.
In first grade,
there were days
where he would come home
and just burst into tears.
And I would say,
"What is going on?"
And he said,
"Well, you know, so and so
pushed me out of line
for the fourth time this week,
and the teacher really
didn't do anything about it,"
or, you know, "They were
making fun of me at recess,"
or, you know,
"I went to soccer practice
and they said I was
the worst person on the team."
So it started
with things like that,
and by second grade,
there was one day
where he came home saying
that he was strangled
in the hallway.
By the middle
of the school year,
I would pick him up
from school
and I could see in his face
that he was doing
everything he could
to hold back the tears,
because he didn't want
to be made fun of
even more by the boys.
And the second
we drove half a block away,
just the floodgates opened,
and he was so sad.
ROMAN: I just felt alone.
I wasn't doing
what everyone else was doing.
I was different.
There's a dominance hierarchy.
There are tough guys
who are on the top
and there are weaklings, girls,
who are the bottom
of the heap.
Now this is the origin
of sexism and homophobia.
In sexism, it's that a girl
isn't as strong as a boy.
With homosexuality,
the gay man
becomes the most stigmatized
version of weakness
and sissiness.
What happens in your
relations with other kids
is that you pick out someone
who appears weak in that way.
You maybe bully him,
but maybe it's just a more
subtle kind of demeaning.
And you start hating
that thing about him
that you're
afraid of in yourself.
MOLY: I was born
in Salt Lake City.
After first grade,
we moved to Massachusetts.
I dealt with a lot of bullying.
I dealt with
a lot of taunting.
I got picked on because
I was the smallest kid,
the skinniest kid,
the most non-white kid,
and lastly, the kid probably
most suspected to be gay,
which, you know, is true.
Ended up being true.
But, yeah, I remember
these kind of big kids
coming over and yelling out,
"Hey, faggot!"
or, "Why don't you
go back to China?"
I would always fight back.
I'd get my
stomach punched in.
I just remember
coming home from school
with like bloody hands just from
being pushed onto the concrete,
and my hands kind of grazing
against the concrete.
It was terrorizing for me.
I would always
end up crying.
I felt a lot of shame from
not being
able to defend myself.
My dad would start
giving me advice
about how to fight back.
I mean I love my mom,
you know, and I love my dad.
But I just got
the same thing from them.
Everybody's telling me
to just deal with it.
After a fight,
I learned to just wash
my own hands of the blood,
I learned to just
not talk about it.
I felt so down
and depressed
to the point of contemplating
suicide many times.
I just didn't feel like
living anymore.
I never really knew
why I had such a difficult time
talking about how I felt
until I looked back
at my history
and then I was like, well,
obviously, that's why, you know,
because I was discouraged
with physical force
from ever expressing emotions.
WAY: Boys directly
make the link between
having friendships
and mental health.
So they tell me,
"If I didn't have
someone to talk to
"about my secrets
and about my personal life,
I would go crazy,
I would go whacko."
Sometimes when I'm sad
I can tell my friends this,
and they could try
to help me out and stuff.
WAY: At 11, 12, 13, 14,
boys tell these
very passionate stories
about other boys and wanting
to be friends with them
and wanting to share secrets.
CHU: This one boy described how
he was having difficulties
with his parents
understanding him,
and the person
who saved him
on a daily basis
was his best friend,
who he felt really
loved him unconditionally.
WAY: Starting when
they're about 15, 16, 17,
the language shifts.
You hear boys
actually talking about
their struggles
in their friendships,
being hurt by other boys,
feeling betrayed by other boys,
wanting to have
intimate friendships,
not knowing how to find
those friendships.
From middle school I had
four really close friends
and we did
everything together.
But once I went
into high school,
I struggle finding people
I can talk to about things
because I feel like
I have to deal with it myself.
I'm not supposed to get help.
They really buy into a culture
that doesn't value
what we've feminized.
So we've made
feminine relationships,
emotions, all these
critical things, empathy,
and so boys begin to devalue
their relational parts
to themselves,
their relational needs,
their relational desires.
WILL: In good times,
guys are like really
close to each other
and they're really
good friends with each other,
and they interact a lot.
But when things
get a little bit worse,
it's more like
you're on your own.
One of the adolescent boys
described it as,
if you spill your guts
the way that girls do,
if you tell somebody
how you really feel,
then they can use that
against you at any time.
So the loss of the intimacy
in their friendships,
feeling, oftentimes,
for many of our boys,
very lonely, very isolated,
they really enter
into a culture of masculinity
that makes these
bizarre equations
that male intimacy
has to be about sexuality.
They'll start saying
things like,
"I feel close to him,
no homo.
He's cool, no homo."
So this constant allusion
that any sign of intimacy
is going to be perceived
as potentially gay.
They understand that
if you're straight,
you have no desire
for male intimacy.
We don't do that with women,
we do that with men.
Each of them is posturing
based on how the other boys
are posturing.
And what they
end up missing is
what they each really want,
which is just that closeness.
Drinking and drug taking
are very often a way
that boys relax
those tight rules
which say they always
have to be silent and strong.
And when you get drunk
you can hug your friends,
and you can tell them
how much you love them.
You can have sex with a girl
and not feel afraid
in a way that all people feel
when they start having sex,
because it's intimate
and it's unfamiliar
and it's incredibly exposing.
It's not just acceptable
that teens are drinking,
doing drugs,
and having sex,
it's expected
and sometimes
looked down on
if you're not doing that.
You feel out of place
if you're the only
sober one there.
To the break of dawn, y'all!
Welcome to the party
( song continues )
Welcome to the party
We're just getting started
Gonna play it loud,
let it all hang out
If you're in,
let me hear you shout
Yeah, let me hear you shout
Let me hear you shout
So boys take
drugs and alcohol,
but they're often
doing it to treat loneliness.
When they're lonely
or in a lot of psychic pain
and they don't have the words
to put it into language,
they take to drink
and drugs to blot it out.
Hey, Mom.
LUIS: My mom and father
met when they were about
17 years old,
and they decided to leave
Mexico for a better future.
My mom told me, you know,
"Go to school and get a career
so you don't have
to be like me."
( In Spanish )
Would you like
to eat something, Luis?
Like what?
Like a sandwich,
a quesadilla, or something.
( Mother in Spanish )
My husband and I made the
decision to separate in 2007.
And he left.
And I remained alone
with the three kids.
He didn't come to visit them
very often.
He said because he had things
to do and he was busy.
My dad actually,
he was kind of a wild kid.
Like, he would
like to party a lot
and he would like to go out
with his friends.
One night he just
made a bad move
and decided
to drink and drive.
And, you know,
he got pulled over.
They found out later
he wasn't a US citizen.
So they deported him
back to Mexico,
and he's been there
since I was in seventh grade.
I miss my dad
very much and,
you know,
there's nothing I can do
but visit him in Mexico.
( In Spanish )
From that point, the problems
started with Luis.
Luis was a good kid,
he was very sweet.
But when he got
into seventh grade,
he changed completely.
LUIS: I noticed
a bunch of different faces.
There was a lot
of pretty girls,
then there was
like the gang members
and then the skaters
and then the kids that smoked.
When I decided
to join a gang,
it was because
it was just cool.
I was eventually
jumped in and,
you know, I claimed a color.
They gave me a nickname
to just affiliate myself.
I would ditch class.
I had four F's.
I ran away from home.
I just found myself
with a lot of troubles.
And I just didn't care.
( Mother in Spanish )
I ask him, "Luis are you okay?
But there are times
when I sense that he's not ok.
Then he gets mad, he yells.
It's never a good time
to talk to him.
Sometimes I've felt very
LUIS: Around my
freshman year
is when I felt really
depressed and alone.
And I would just wake up
in a bad mood.
Sometimes I would
cry myself to sleep.
I didn't have
no one to talk to.
Like no one could really
listen to me and tell me,
you know,
"It's going to be okay,
it's going to be all right."
Like, "I got you,"
or anything.
I really felt like
everyone gave up on me,
even my mom.
There's been a time
where I almost
did commit suicide,
but I'm going to put
more pressure on my family,
my mom and my dad.
Basically all I had
was marijuana,
I was smoking that every day.
I would always be high.
I was smoking,
and I wouldn't think
about any troubles.
I remember July 6th,
we went to the cannabis club.
We got THC wax oil.
We smoked a joint.
And then next thing I know,
I saw a cop
flashing his lights.
He wrote us a ticket,
he came back to the car,
and he searched me.
He found it in my shoe,
and he put the cuffs on me
and he told me you have
the right to remain silent,
you're going to be
taken to jail.
( Mother in Spanish )
My heart broke.
I couldn't believe it.
I couldn't believe it.
And it really hurt when I saw
that he was being arrested.
And that he was going to be in
juvenile hall.
It really hurt.
We recognize more and more
that adolescents are more likely
to be depressed and suicidal,
but we imagine that
that will be female adolescence
because of the way
we define depression--
more removed, more quiet,
not responding.
What boys tend to do
when they are getting depressed
is actually the opposite.
Boys are more
likely to act out,
more likely to
become aggressive,
using cursing words
and screaming at people.
But most people
see it as a conduct disorder
or just a bad kid.
And what happens?
Before they see
the other signs of depression,
which will come
in adolescent males,
just as females,
that young male
may become suicidal,
but no one has noticed it.
Exactly at the age
that we began
to hear the language,
the emotional language,
disappear from boys' narratives,
in the national data
exactly the age
that boys begin to
have five times
the rate of
suicide as girls.
The way boys are brought up
makes them hide
all their natural,
and empathic feelings
behind a mask of masculinity.
And also,
when they're most in pain,
they can't reach out
and ask for help
because they're not allowed to,
or they won't be a real boy.
They are shamed into this,
and they're very ashamed
to break out of it.
So they live
behind an emotional mask
that keeps boys from
expressing their true feelings.
I tried my best to fit in
Looking for a suit to fit in
Standing outside
of your prison
Trying to find ways
I could get in
Now I realize that I'm free
And I realize that I'm me
And I found out
that I'm not alone
'Cause there's
plenty people like me
That's right, there's
plenty people like me
All love me, despite me
And all unashamed
and all unafraid
To speak out for what
we might see
I said there's
plenty people like me
All outsiders like me
All unashamed
and all unafraid
To live out
what they supposed to be
This is my high school,
I graduated
from this high school.
I never wanted
to be a teacher.
I was going to be an engineer
and make a lot of money.
I became a teacher
because I saw that
my community was hurting
without good teachers.
And I think one of the
biggest challenges was that,
like, I've been through it,
And so I want them
to be able to know that
they can move forward
and they can succeed
and they can do whatever
they choose to do in life.
But it's going to take
hard work.
If you go two blocks away,
you'll find prostitution.
There's a lot of gang
activity in the area.
I consider it like
a war zone, right?
Our kids get up every morning,
they have to prepare
their mask
for how they're going
to walk to get to school.
So if that mask
requires me not to
let people see
any of my vulnerabilities,
I mean, I may have to put on
a very tough mask.
And when I get here
hopefully I can
take the mask off,
so I can focus on learning
rather than continually
wearing this hardened shell.
A lot of our students don't
know how to take the mask off.
So I want you to take
one of these masks,
take the mask.
Here's what
we're going to do:
On this mask,
you're going to draw
what represents you.
What are some things
that you hold up every day
when you walk to school
that you let people see.
And then on the back,
I want you to write
what is it that
you don't let people see.
Like, what's behind the mask,
all right?
So what I want
you to do is
I want you to take your mask,
and I want you to ball it up.
I want you to hit someone
across the circle
with your mask.
Don't leave your seat,
don't leave your seat.
You can't leave your seat.
Open it up.
So who wants to reveal
what's on the mask they opened.
Read it out loud,
just the front.
"Funny, caring and happy."
What's behind the mask?
"Sadness and fear."
Sadness and fear.
"Goofy, kindness, happiness,
silliness, smile, and fun."
Okay, on the back?
Anger. Okay.
I'll read mine.
The front says
that's what I show
on the mask,
on the back says "pain."
"Energy, frustration,
happiness, friendly,
heart, smile, outgoing."
And on the back it say
"sadness, scared, tears,
missing my dad,
"trying to take care
of my brothers and...
Why you think
we hold back our pain?
People don't want everybody
to know everything.
You got to keep
your poker face on,
can't let them know
what you got.
How hard is that,
to walk around every day
with a poker face on?
It's not just
an activity on paper,
it's about real stuff
that we are dealing
with as young men,
that we hide behind
because we don't feel safe.
Almost 90% of you
had "pain" and "anger"
on the back of that paper.
That's not a coincidence.
That is real.
And we're only eight here.
There are hundreds
of young men out there
that are having
the same experience,
but they don't have
anybody to talk to about it.
They're holding back sadness,
they're holding back pain,
they're holding back anger,
'cause they have nobody
who's even asking them,
"What's up with you, man?
"What's happening?
What's going on?
How can I support you?"
I want each of you
to be able to say
what you need to say,
because if we're ever
going to dig down
to the deepness of our pain,
young men,
if we're ever going to dig down
to the anger
that we're holding behind,
so that we end up
another man in jail,
because we just exploded
on the wrong person
for the wrong thing,
we got to have
a safe place to deal with it.
That's brotherhood.
PORTER: For many of our boys
who are trying to find
what it means to be a man,
and far too many
without a man guiding them,
they begin to define
their own sense
of what it means
to be a man.
Our boys are yearning
for help,
yearning for guidance
and mentorship and leadership.
What is there about
being a boy in America
that places boys
at greater risk?
We're seeing clearly
that boys who come
from low income families,
and when I say boys
I mean white boys as well,
are less likely
to go to college,
more likely
to drop out of school.
In most schools
we start with humiliation
as a way to punish kids,
write their name on the board,
put them in the back
of the room, send them out.
We rarely stop and ask what's
behind the behavior problem,
why is this child acting out?
Denying those kids
learning time
actually has the effect
of pushing many of them
right out of school.
They will kick a kid
out of school knowing
that a kid who isn't reading
by the fourth grade
is going to be
in the prison system.
Well, you kicked him out
twice in the third grade
'cause he did this
to his teacher.
Ain't nobody in that
child's life ever hugged him.
Go into a
kindergarten class,
you're talking about boys,
they're doing this.
Ask them a question.
They can't shut up.
They're jumping up and down,
waving their hands.
All right.
Go into the same class
when they're in the sixth grade,
ask them a question.
What do you think?
"I don't know."
"It's cool."
In those 5 years,
the academic pilot light
has started to go out
because they have decided
that school
is not the place for them.
The number one predictor
of student achievement,
it's the expectations
of the staff.
The school system just--
they didn't believe in the kids.
In fact, because they were
black and brown kids
they didn't think
they could do well.
Everybody has potential...
if they're provided
with the right support
and the right stimulation.
BRANCH: I was always told
in elementary,
"Oh, you're really smart."
But when I got
to middle school,
you're not cool
if you're being smart.
Having good grades
didn't mean a whole lot.
It didn't mean nothing
on the playground
and so I had to figure out
how I was gonna fit in.
So I just barely slipped by.
It's cool to be like,
"I don't care.
Take my points.
Call my mama."
I fell into that trap,
And it wasn't till
my last year of middle school
is when I got
my act together,
and it was a teacher
who kind of saved me.
She saw
enough in me to say,
"I know that there's something
going on with you.
"I know that your father died
before you were born.
"But you're using that
as an excuse.
You're too smart
to act like you're not."
She said, "We don't always get
to choose what happens to us,
but we have a responsibility
to make the most out of it."
And I was mad at her.
I was mad at this teacher.
I was like, I'm never
speaking to her again,
she can't talk to me
like that.
But I heard it
and I remembered it
and it changed
the very next day.
And my grades
transformed right then.
And it was really like this
idea that my mom could
raise me the best she could--
there would need to be
other voices that would
help me to find my way.
CODY: By the time
my wrestling coach
came into my life,
I was really, really searching
for a man I wanted to resemble.
I guess it's the type of love
and admiration
that you're supposed to have
for your father,
I felt for my coach,
right off the bat.
And I think it was because of
that yearning I had to,
to figure out
what it means to be a man.
He was a family man,
he loved and cherished
his daughter to death.
I saw this man
that was dependable, reliable,
and not abusive.
My coach kind of stepped in
and showed me
that good men do exist.
Coaches in this country
have so much power,
such a position
in the lives of young people
that they do attain
this father-like status,
and I think you've got
all these young boys
trying to seek
the approval of that coach.
DON: I'll never forget
showing up in Catholic school,
just right away just hearing
how on the field, like,
"Hurry up, you faggots!"
And you're just like, whoa.
I heard it
and I thought about it
and then one second later,
I adopted it.
EHRMANN: Coaches can do
an awful lot of good,
and an awful lot of bad.
I was talking
to a 12-year-old football player
and I asked him the question,
what if your coach told you
you were playing
like a girl
in front of
the rest of the players?
The boy told me
it would destroy him.
If it would destroy him to be
told he's playing like a girl,
what are we teaching
this boy about girls?
And actually,
when I say, play like a girl,
I'm using
real soft language.
We have much more aggressive,
demeaning, demonstrous,
dehumanizing ways of making
that point and making it stick.
Don't give me
that soft crap.
Don't cry.
Take your ass-whooping
like a man!
You (bleep)!
You're a (bleep) bleep)!
Sports has gotten
way confused in terms of power,
dominance, control,
a lack of moral clarity...
Disturbing new details
about what happened
inside the locker room
at Sayerville High School.
They held four fellow
teammates against their will
and improperly touched them
in a sexual manner.
Racial slurs,
homophobic name-calling,
those are just a few
of the findings
on the atmosphere inside
the Miami Dolphins locker room.
We started the week,
players beating up women.
We ended the week with players
beating up children.
We are
in a very serious state here
in the National
Football League.
In a win-at-all-costs culture
it's strictly about
the win at the expense
of character development.
Oh! Oh!
You could try
and take us, oh, oh
But we're the gladiators,
oh, oh
Everyone a rager,
oh, oh
But secretly
they're saviors
Glory and gore
go hand in hand
That's why
we're making headlines
Oh! Oh!
You could try
and take us, oh oh
But victory's contagious
Drive, drive, block out,
block out, block out.
MAN: Set hut.
One, two, three, cut!
All right, good job, good job.
Ball's to your right.
EHRMANN: I think
the great myth in America
today is that
sports builds character,
but sports does not build
unless a coach intentionally
teaches it and models it.
When I did start coaching,
I didn't want to be
a transactional coach
using kids
for my own identity,
so I just started
with a very simple philosophy.
If you're going to be
a transformational coach,
you've got to know
what you're transforming.
I coach
to help boys become men
of empathy and integrity
who will be responsible
and change the world for good.
That's what sports
ought to be about.
And we've got a lot of work
to do in this country.
Many of our examples
of American masculinity,
be it in sports, military,
law enforcement,
the entertainment industry,
the men that men look up to,
a lot of what they're teaching
is domination, aggression.
They're these
hyper-masculine figures
that we try to adhere to.
Too tough
We won't break
Dark shadows
The young pros
They blow
and come back tenfold
We don't need ropes
to climb the walls you build
Ideas and passion
break the bricks with you
Man up
Man up
Man up
Man up
Man up
The average boy
spends 40 hours a week
watching television,
sports, movies.
Fifteen hours a week
playing videogames,
and now what's new is,
2 hours in between those
other things watching porn.
The predominant
male archetypes
that we see in film
and television
and other forms
of popular culture,
are the strong silent guy
who is always in control
and is not emotional.
And then we have
the superhero character,
the hero character, engaging
in high levels of violence
in order to maintain
that control,
in order to achieve whatever
goal he has in front of him.
We also have
the archetype of the thug,
and this is predominantly
men of color,
who are pigeonholed
into much more violent roles.
And then we have
the man child, or the mook,
which is the male
who's in perpetual adolescence.
His body doesn't typically
have a lot of muscle,
but he tends to project
masculinity in other ways,
through the degradation
of women,
in high risk activities.
KIMMEL: All they want to do
is get laid,
and of course, at the end,
nobody gets anything,
because they get drunk,
they take drugs.
And there have been
a whole rash
of these movies recently
that are funny,
and so you're laughing
at what you could become.
What the fuck?
Of course we know
that media images
have an effect
on people's behavior.
If there was no effect,
the advertising industry
would collapse.
Because the advertising industry
is based on the idea
that media images will have
an effect on people's behavior.
The same kind
of hyper-masculinity
that we see in Hollywood movies
or on television
are the same kind
of hyper-violence
that we see in rap music
and hip-hop culture.
The stereotype of being
violent and dangerous,
selling drugs,
it's all about money,
power and respect.
A lot of rappers
are imitating
what they see
as successful masculinity.
Violent videogames reinforce
those stereotypical structures
of what a man should be.
The typical game character
tend to be white males with--
it gets this specific--
brunette hair,
five o'clock shadow.
When an emotion sneaks in
for a male character,
by and large, it is anger.
And any sort of grief
is very, very underplayed
and never actually discussed
or processed.
Kids end up really
looking up to this character.
And what they end up
idolizing is someone
who cannot express themselves
cannot be honest or open
with anyone around them.
When you play video games
and you see
the same kind of setup,
It loses it's impact on you
because you habituate
to the sameness.
The video game companies
know this
and they give you
endless variety--
a new category,
a new challenge,
you're moving up ranks.
They are creating
this arousal addiction.
Boys' brains are being
digitally rewired
to this technology
where things happen like this--
The ones
that are most addictive
are the most violent,
where your job
is to destroy the enemy,
to dominate.
If you don't have
social connection
and you don't have
a lot of friends,
or you have
a crappy home life,
you can escape into a game.
And you don't have to worry
you're saving the galaxy.
If your kid sits
in front of a screen
for 4 hours a day
and shoots and kills
in a repetitive,
violent way,
hundreds of people,
there's a good chance
that kid is going to be
impacted by that.
There's a reason
the US Army trains people
for combat
by using video games.
It's because
it gets them used to
some of the experiences.
Well, put your 10- or 11-
or 12-year-old son
in that context.
But they're not going
into Iraq or Afghanistan.
And if they happen to live
in a more dangerous
or a neighborhood
where they're exposed
to violence more routinely
than they might be
in some fancy part of town,
then that's gonna be
a bigger issue.
I share this story with my kids:
garbage in, garbage out.
Wake up in the morning,
it's Friday. They're going
to a party that night.
They supposed to be at school,
they woke up late,
but the first thing
that they turn on
is the radio or their CD.
And the song is,
( beatboxing )
Kill a motherfucker
Kill a motherfucker
Now, while they're playing
their video game,
it's "kill a motherfucker."
Then, they drinking or using
some type of substance
before the party.
I tell them there's going to be
50 guys at the party,
all of them who listen
to the same song you did,
all of them who played
the same video games you did,
all of them who took up
on the same drugs that you did,
all of them who had
the same armament that you have,
and then soon
as I walk in the party
and accidentally
step on your foot
at the same time
the DJ puts on the turntable
"Kill a motherfucker,"
what's going to happen
at that party?
Somebody gonna die.
Got blood on my hands
I got time to kill
I'm a menace to society,
When you see me
in your hood
Bet I'm up to no good
I'm a menace to society,
I'm a menace to society,
The Surgeon General
put together a task force
to study this.
Three major findings,
which have been replicated
hundreds of times since,
that exposure to violent media
often leads little boys
to be less sensitive to the
pain and suffering of others,
it leads them to be
more fearful of the world,
and it leads them
to engage in behaviors
that are more aggressive
towards others
and towards themselves.
They're not the only things
that cause violence
with young people
and with adult men,
but they're pretty
potent predictors.
Childhood is a sequence
of revealed secrets.
Today, there is no sequence
of revealed secrets.
Kids are exposed to porn
at age 5 or 6
because they're
in the middle of a video game
and something pops up
or they click
on the wrong website.
I started seeing it
more and more,
I started seeing it
in other places,
like music, pictures,
With my group of friends,
it's more taboo to talk about,
it's kind of like
something like, okay,
everyone knows that
I'll watch it,
but let's just like
not talk about it,
it's extremely awkward.
Ladies, your man is nastier
than you ever imagined.
Your man has been watching porno
since he was 12 years old.
Because of abstinence-only
sex education,
because of
the unbelievable shame
that our culture has
around sexuality,
pornography is sex education
for most people.
At the touch of a button,
anybody, at any age,
anywhere in the world,
can have a panoply
of sexual experiences--
visual sexual experiences.
Your brain is being affected.
Dopamine receptors
are being over-activated
and you get addicted
to this visual stimulation.
And the problem is the excess,
and it's in social isolation.
Jimmy is in his room alone
doing this.
He's cutting himself off
from friends, family,
and knowing how to relate
to girls and women.
If you're a teenager,
who's had no sexual experience,
this becomes
the social norm.
And the assumption is
this is what is right to do,
this is what women want
and this is how men
are supposed to perform.
And all of those are wrong.
The way that boys and men
have been trained to think about
and objectify women's bodies
and purchase women's bodies,
whether it's directly
in prostitution
or indirectly in pornography,
and somehow
that has no relation to how they
think about themselves
as sexual beings
and women's sexuality?
To me it's naive to think
that there's no connection.
It seemed like
they were attacking her.
And it didn't make
any sense to me as to,
is this the actual thing?
Like does this
actually happen?
I think we have to be
honest with our sons
that our culture
is sending mixed messages
all over the place.
Boys might be
going to pornography
because they have
the sexual impulse,
but what they get when they
get there is not just sex.
It's incredible levels
of normalized brutality
and sexism that's associated
with the sexual act.
Somehow those boys
are supposed to develop
healthy sexual relationships
with girls and with women?
We have a rape culture.
What that means is that
individual rapists
aren't just
crawling out of the swamp,
they're being produced
by our culture.
Two star high school
football players
have been found guilty
of raping
a West Virginia teenager.
A freshman at Stanford
and a member
of the swim team
was accused of raping
a drunk unconscious woman.
Two cyclists witnessed him
raping the woman,
they chased him down
and called police.
Former Vanderbilt
football players are convicted
of raping
an unconscious classmate
in the Vanderbilt dorm room
on campus
and then taking video
with their phones.
As a young man,
you're taught
a man is supposed to
always be on the prowl.
A man is supposed to
always be aggressive.
They say things like,
"Who's that?
I'd like to hit that.
I'd like a piece of that.
I'd like to tear
that shit up."
So think about it:
"Hit." Violence.
"Tear." Violence.
"It." Object.
"That." Object.
We're actually teaching them,
consciously and subconsciously,
on purpose or not, not to see
the humanity in girls.
We live in a world,
right here in our country,
where men's violence
against women
is at epidemic proportions.
My first year in high school,
I was going to a dance
with a woman.
And I was standing
next to a guy,
and she was walking away
after talking to me.
And she was wearing
fairly tight pants.
And he said,
"Oh, now I understand
why someone would
rape someone."
The way in which
I've experienced men talk,
oftentimes it involves
doing things to women
that don't seem like
they're particularly consensual.
When I went to college,
there was this pressure
to engage in hookup culture.
Alcohol was this tool
for me to be assertive
and aggressive and predatory,
to find women to have sex with,
so that I could go back
and impress other men with it.
Particularly around
just other guys,
you're always
one-upping the other person,
talking about a woman's ass
or her breasts.
There's an implied sense that
women exist for us
to have sex with them.
They exist for us.
I don't think that we think
about the implications of that.
I call what we do
to our little boys and men
"the great setup."
We raise boys to become men
whose very identity is based
on rejecting the feminine,
and then we are surprised
when they don't see women
as being fully human.
So we set them up.
We set boys up
to grow into men
who disrespect women
at a fundamental level
and then we wonder why we have
the culture that we have.
Basically what you have
on college campuses
is young men
desperate to prove
their masculinity,
so you have 18-year-olds trying
to prove it to 19 year olds.
That's a recipe for failure.
The hooking up,
the initiations, the hazing--
what do they get in return?
They get two things.
These are the bonds
that are the most impermeable,
the ones that will
last you a lifetime,
and you also get the feeling
that girls can't do this.
So you get both, horizontal
solidarity with your bros,
and hierarchy--
men are superior to women.
The most important dicta
of the Bro Code
is you never rat out
the brotherhood.
You never, ever,
betray that brotherhood,
so this leads to the notion
that surrounding bad things,
there's a code of silence.
What happens is,
their heads and their hearts
actually come into conflict
because their hearts
may be saying,
"This is wrong.
I know this is wrong.
My ethical compass tells me
this is wrong.
I should do
something about it.
A man would act."
And on the other hand,
"But these are my bros.
I can't betray them.
If I do,
they'll marginalize me."
This is the fear
that so many men have
that keeps them
from acting ethically.
A girl was repeatedly attacked
for two and a half hours
and as many as 20 people
either took part
or stood by and watched.
Many did not step up to help,
but nearly all got out
their cell phones
and started snapping pictures
and Tweeting.
Three top Penn State officials
are likely to stand trial
on charges they covered up
years of Sandusky's abuse.
Another adult man
has now resigned
amid accusations
he knew there was a problem
and did nothing.
Intentionally or by neglect,
the Baltimore Ravens,
the National Football League,
and Commissioner Roger Goodell
have conducted a cover-up
of Ray Rice's brutal assault
on his then-fiance
on February 15.
MAN 1: The severity
of Rice's attack
was clear almost immediately
after the assault.
MAN 2:
The NFL did have the evidence
that the police department did.
The league
is still not responding.
There are forces at work
in male peer culture
that keep men silent,
even men who know
that something is wrong,
they don't say anything
or do anything
because they
make a calculation
that if they say
or do something,
it'll lose them status
within their peer culture.
There's a choice.
And many times the choice
is rooted in our privilege.
So while we as good men
don't perpetrate the violence,
we are part
of the collective socialization,
the fertile ground
that's required
for the violence to exist.
I worked for 10 years
in the jails of San Francisco
in a program
that included a project
to deconstruct
and reconstruct
what we call
the male role belief system,
to which I think
virtually all men
in our society are exposed.
Men are defined as superior,
and women as inferior.
And to be a real man,
you also dominate other men.
So in other words,
this is a recipe for violence.
My mom gave birth to me 4 days
before her 17th birthday,
and so she was
a young girl
and she projected
a lot of that trauma on to me.
My mother had like this,
like just a rage
towards me to this day.
And I remember her
kicking me down the hallway
and choking me
and slapping me.
and the worst part about this
was not the physical part of it,
'cause that was normal
for me at that time.
It was afterwards she took
a Polaroid picture of me...
And I don't remember
her exact words,
but I remember
her shaming me.
And I couldn't figure out
what it was
that was so wrong
with me, that...
why, especially at that age,
why did I deserve this?
I was molested
by one of my siblings' father.
He took me into his bedroom,
closed the door
and then I remember
questioning in my mind like,
why did he close the door?
He asked me to pull down
my pants and, uh...
I remember pulling down my pants
and then my underwear
and he just looked at me
for a while.
And, uh...
and then he touched me.
I eventually told my mom
and she didn't believe me,
which made it worse.
I felt guilt around it, um...
that I should have
I should have known better.
I knew that I was suicidal.
Um...I was a cutter.
Once I was hospitalized
for swallowing
an entire bottle
of my aunt's prescription pills.
I didn't feel that
there was any worth to my life,
and then, you know, who would
care whether I was here or not.
The best way that I've been
able to understand
my capacity to murder
another human being
is that I didn't value
my own life at the time,
so I couldn't value the life
of another human being.
A human child knows
it's not loved,
he or she,
if they're beaten,
or if they're just
simply neglected,
ignored, abandoned.
The men that I worked with
in the prisons
had suffered all of these forms
of child abuse
to a degree I've never seen
in any other setting.
And to say they were
dominated by shame
is to say they didn't have pride
or self-love.
Whether it's homicidal violence
or suicidal violence,
people resort to such
desperate behavior
only when they are feeling
overwhelmed by shame
and humiliation.
I grew up with three brothers
and a father that drank a lot,
and I was probably bullied
the most by my dad.
He ruled with intimidation,
you know, and fear.
I was always scared
when Mom said,
"You're in trouble,
and I'm going to tell your dad."
I knew I had
an ass-whipping coming
and that meant
he was going to hit me
with whatever he had
close to him, you know.
Whether it was a fan cord
he ripped out of the wall,
or his belt.
I was shy, I was quiet,
I was always in my head.
I just felt...
terribly alone.
The only culture where I felt
like I belonged a little bit
was in the drug culture
when I found it.
I was 12 years old
when I started smoking weed.
At first,
because of peer pressure,
but I soon liked it
because I didn't have to feel
the way I always felt.
Then I moved on
to harder drugs.
My world changed
when I picked up a gun.
Became a whole
lot more violent.
People around me
started dying.
The guy I killed,
we had conflict.
I had been accepted
in this drug culture.
When he didn't pay me,
I thought, "My homeboys know.
If I don't do something
to this guy,
everybody's gonna take
whatever I have,
play me for a punk."
That's the story
I was telling in my head.
I just felt all the fear
and anxiety
and everything else I had
bottled up in me just burst.
And I shot him six times.
And I ran.
I think that's the first time
I ever felt, um...
like I had power.
For so long I had felt
so powerless in my life.
Like that was a moment
I finally stood up for myself.
But it came
at such a huge price.
If you're told from day one,
don't let nobody disrespect you,
and this is the way
you handle it as a man,
respect is linked
to violence.
Boys are trained
to externalize our pain.
When something bad
has happened to us,
we need to do something
bad to somebody else,
avenge the humiliation
that we've suffered,
the shame
that we've experienced.
To me that's such a basic
and an incredibly important part
of what is going on
in the violence pandemic
in our society.
Plenty of girls
live in a culture
where there's
easy access to guns.
Why don't girls and women
do the shootings?
The national conversation
that happens
almost never mentions
gender as a factor
when in fact, it's the single
most important factor.
But it's unspoken,
and so part of our challenge
is to make visible what has
been rendered invisible.
I've been forced to endure
an existence of loneliness,
and unfulfilled desires.
Tomorrow is the day
in which I will have
my revenge
against humanity,
against all of you.
One of the things
that has provoked
so much anger
in American society today
is this notion
of aggrieved entitlement,
that men feel entitled
to positions of power
and all that
but they don't feel like
they're getting them
as much anymore.
That's the injury.
Not that I was in power,
but that I was entitled to be.
The boys that have
committed these crimes,
the men who commit crimes
of violence every day
in the streets
of the United States
and in the homes
of the United States,
are our sons,
they are saying something
about us as a culture.
But we ignore them
at our peril.
And I think the first reaction
of so many people
who are threatened
by introspection,
by self-awareness
and self-criticality,
is to push them aside
as if they're somehow others,
they're somehow
And, again,
this idea of mental illness
is one way
to push them aside.
That's why we don't have
to think about our culture,
we don't have to think
what we're teaching our sons.
We don't have to think about
the role of the media culture
in helping to shape certain
norms around masculinity.
We don't have to think about
the mixed messages
we're sending to boys
and men about violence,
which we send all the time.
Cultures define manhood
in different ways,
and there are healthy ways
to define manhood;
there are unhealthy ways.
So the question is,
can we do better than
we're doing in our society?
And the answer is:
Yes, we can do better.
IAN: My sophomore year
in college
I was in my first real
long-term committed
and had learned that
she had been raped.
And I found out later
that my mom had been raped
when she was younger.
It was painful for me
to think about that
happening to someone
that I really cared about.
And that it happened
to all sorts of people.
It gave me the opportunity
to start thinking about
masculinity in a critical way.
Trying to become
more of a full human being
and less constrained
by who I thought I had to be.
I stopped playing sports,
in terms
of collegiate competition,
and I went back
to doing theater.
One of the characters
that I played
was a transgender character.
I remember when my parents
came to the show, um...
and my dad
was really uncomfortable.
He was not comfortable
with his son,
who was more of
a prototypical man's man,
changing into this
very un-man's man-like person.
Even in the context of theater,
where it wasn't really me.
And that sort of began
a point of friction,
I think,
between my father and I.
His response was,
why wouldn't you want to be
what you really are?
CODY: The very last time
that I spoke to my father,
I was a senior
in high school.
I told him that I hated him
and I never wanted
to talk to him again.
In kind of
the heat of that moment,
I decided that
I should write down
that I was mad at him for
since my first memory
of him beating my mom.
And so I sat down
and I wrote a letter,
and I had intended
to send it to him in the mail.
I was taking
an AP English class
and the teacher resembled
my wrestling coach
in a lot
of his characteristics.
I came into his classroom
and I said,
"Something inside me needs
to have you read this
before I can send it,
and I don't know why."
And he got...
I think three-quarters
through the first page,
and he, like,
fell into tears.
Like, tears just
running down his face.
He was like, "I understand you
so much better now.
That's why you push yourself
so hard in everything you do,
why you have to be the best,
why you have to be perfect,
why you stress out about
every single little thing."
He looked at me
and he just said,
"You're good enough."
And apparently,
that's what I needed to hear...
from a man.
About 4 or 5 years ago,
Jacksen said,
"How about we make a box,
and we put notes in there
every week to each other.
If I'm mad,
I'll put a note in there,
if I'm happy,
I'll put a note in there.
That's how
we'll communicate
about what we're feeling
for the week."
And so Jacksen found
one of my shoe boxes,
cut a hole in the top,
and he named it the mailbox.
And we do it once a week,
and we open it on Daddy Sunday,
which is Sundays.
I wrote this one.
"To Dad.
Dear Dad, I love how we play
together every Sunday.
It's really fun
playing with you, Dad.
Love, Jacksen."
And this.
And my father has never
in 30-some-odd years of life
told me he loved me.
I tell my son
I love him every day.
EHRMANN: The father wound
is any ongoing psychological,
emotional deficit or injury
that would have been met
in a healthy relationship.
So the father wound
is probably one of the most
serious issues in this country.
Wounding boys
become wounding men,
apart from
some kind of intervention.
In my own healing process,
I took myself as an adult man
and myself
as a 5-year-old boy
and I walked
both of them back
down my mother's
basement steps
and there
I confronted my father.
Five-year-old boys
are supposed to be loved,
they're supposed to be
tucked in at night.
It's an amazing thing
when I did that work,
because it was
the first time
I ever had empathy
for my own father.
I've started to think about,
you know,
who hurt him in a way
that he would be so angry
as he was?
I think every man's journey
is how do you reconnect
that heart to the head,
to start living
out of the authentic you?
Today is really
about self-reflection.
About your story, okay,
your narrative,
why that's important to
self-reflect and to share out.
LUIS: When I came
out of juvenile hall,
I knew that I had to make
some changes,
so I quit smoking
and decided to be sober
and see what I can do
to change my life around.
First day of school
I came in here,
you know, I was very excited.
And these past 2 months
have been amazing.
I can share anything
with these guys, anything.
And, you know,
they've been absolutely
more than a family to me,
I love them to death.
I transformed
from four F's to four A's.
I was very proud
of myself,
but most of all,
I made my mom proud.
HAGEDORN: When I see my kids,
I don't see gangsters,
I see my little brothers.
What we're trying to do
is to connect with them,
to create a space where
they can re-humanize themselves,
because they've been
so dehumanized.
We feel safe in here,
we can talk to anybody in here,
it's like another family,
pretty much.
And so the lessons
that we're being taught
from early on,
is that being a woman,
or being feminine,
or being anything
that's not within the "man" box,
within the confines
of this construct, is bad.
So what I'm gonna
do next is,
I erased the labels "man" box,
"not manly" box.
When we take away these barriers
that society places on us,
our parents, our peers,
our teachers,
media, whatever it may be,
when we strip those away,
we get to be
whoever we choose to be
and we find that
we are some of the very things
that we were taught
that are not manly.
I want to just share this
in closing out, too.
You know, before, when I was
stuck in that "man" box...
I felt a sense of incomplete.
I felt that I always never was
the person I was meant to be,
or the person my family
envisioned me to be.
Once I got out
of that "man" box,
through this process
and the work,
I feel like I stand 10 feet tall
and feel that I'm worthy.
I have a right to be loved.
A sense of belonging
with the peers that I've built
and made
a community with in here
and I feel whole.
Many of us are operating
from a place of tradition,
just the way
things always have been.
We need to get men
into their hearts
and out of their heads.
There's freedom outside of these
rigid definitions of manhood.
We need to redefine
strength in men,
not as the power
over other people,
but as forces for justice,
and justice means
equality and fairness
and working against poverty
and working against,
you know, inequality
and violence-- that's strength.
And we need more men
who have the courage
to stand up and speak out,
even when it means
taking a risk.
To go into male culture,
and say some things
that are going to make
other men uncomfortable.
Because this is
about leadership.
We're asking men to use that
privilege to develop a voice,
to speak out, to stand up.
part of the solution.
It's absolutely not about
teaching boys something new.
It's not about
turning boys into girls,
or something
that they're not already.
But it's actually
helping them to stay with
or return to
what they already know.
and caring for other people
and being sympathetic
toward people,
these are not just feminine
traits or behavior patterns.
These are human patterns.
We have a responsibility
to our sons
to break down the systems
of emotional constriction
that leads so many men
to have lives of--
of quiet desperation
and depression
and alcohol
and substance abuse
and all the other ways
that men self-medicate.
So if we ever gave boys
permission to process grief,
gave boys
permission to cry,
to develop
all of their emotions,
you'd do away with not knowing
where to go with their own pain.
POLLACK: For mothers,
if in your gut you feel
you want to stay
close to your son,
don't be dissuaded.
The one study we have
of boys being close to their
mothers in a healthy way
shows that those boys are less
likely to engage in violence,
more likely to succeed in life,
and live 5 years longer.
Whatever a father does
with his son is masculine.
If you like cooking,
cook with your son.
If you like fly-fishing,
fly-fish with your son.
But do something
with your son,
because every boy
measures his masculinity
at the deepest level
against his dad.
We have lots of kids that have
no father figures at home
or who just don't even have
intact families.
Those kids need mentors
who are a regular part
of their lives,
who are checking in,
who are spending
quality time with them,
and who provide the kind of
moral support and example
and guidance
that they need to grow up.
Coaches have this unparalleled
power platform position.
They're held up in most
communities and most schools
as kind of the epitome
of what it means to be a man.
Boy, if we ever got
the heart of a coach
pouring it out
into the hearts of young boys,
with an understanding that
I'm really not just a coach,
but I ought to be
a mentor.
Then you start making
huge changes in the society.
Media and technology
today has an enormous impact
on the social
and emotional health of boys.
And we want that
to be a good impact.
So we need to encourage
good media, good technology,
and we need to limit
the down side of the bad stuff.
We need to challenge
boys and men
to rise to the better angels
of their nature.
To rise to the best aspirations
they have for themselves
as human beings
and as men.
I think
that's a positive challenge
and I think a lot of men
can rise to that challenge.
Everyone in boy's lives
should help us stay true
to who we are so that
we don't have to wear a mask.
(laughing )
I have
a little bit of trouble
Being tough sometimes
Sticking up sometimes
Being enough sometimes
I have
a little bit of trouble
Keeping myself in line
Keeping myself
Thinking I'll be fine
Ooh, it's lonely
at the start
Till my heart says I can
Might be confused
a little
Flying until I land
What it's like to be a man
Nah nah nah nah nah
nah nah nah
What it's like to be a man
I don't ask trouble
But it comes sometimes
And when it does, I find
Little room to grow
If we stand together
Just think what we could do
Those doors
that we'd break through
The places we could go
Ooh, it's lonely
at the start
Till my heart says I can
Might be confused
a little
Flying until I land
What it's like to be a man
Nah nah nah nah nah
nah nah nah
What it's like to be a man
Come with me
Come with me
Come see my side
Come with me
Come with me
Come see this side
Ooh, it's lonely
at the start
Till my heart says I can
Might be confused
a little
Flying until I land
What it's like to be a man
Come with me
Come with me
Come see my side
Come with me
Come with me
Come see this side
Ooh, it's lonely
at the start
Till my heart says I can
Might be confused
a little
Flying until I land
What it's like to be a man
Nah nah nah nah nah nah
nah nah nah
Nah nah nah nah nah nah
nah nah nah
Nah nah nah nah nah
nah nah nah
What it's like to be a man