Unmasking Resources

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Resources

Thanks for visiting this additional resource for Unmasking: Toward Authentic Masculinity. The epigraph quotes and questions for reflection from the book and links to additional resources are organized below by chapter. If you are looking for even more, you can get a copy of The Learning Guide with summaries, key terms, common questions and answers, and more. To get a FREE copy of The Learning Guide, just leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads or anywhere else and send me an email letting me know you left a review. I’ll send you a free copy of The Learning Guide with gratitude.

Introduction

Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word “love” here not merely in the personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace – not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.
-James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

[I was] putting my man face on.
-Chauncey, research participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • What have you connected with or seen in yourself already?
  • What does it mean for you that each participant had the same secret?
  • What masks have you worn? How so? What were the consequences?
  • What might authentic masculinity mean for you?

 

Questions for us all:

  • Are you thinking about, concerned for, or hopeful for any particular men?
  • Did you notice your anger, defensiveness, or self-righteousness surface while reading so far?
  • Did you notice your empathy, compassion, or love surface while reading?
  • What masks have you seen? What were the consequences?
  • What do you hope reading this book will make possible for you?

 

Resources

 

1. Examining Men

Men do oppress women. People are hurt by rigid sexist role patterns. These two realities coexist. Male oppression of women cannot be excused by the recognition that there are ways men are hurt by rigid sexist roles. Feminist activists should acknowledge that hurt, and work to change it—it exists. It does not erase or lessen male responsibility for supporting and perpetuating their power under patriarchy to exploit and oppress women in a manner far more grievous than the serious psychological stress and emotional pain caused by male conformity to rigid sexist role patterns.
-bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

Gender is socially constructed as a holistic entity that everybody just accepts as gender and the vast majority of people never examine it.
– Robert, research participant

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • What are some other identities that are important to you?
  • How have you hurt others as a man?
  • How have you been hurt as a man?
  • How would you describe what it means to be a man?
  • How has it changed over time?
  • What has influenced those changes?
  • Do you see yourself in any of the participants?

Questions for us all:

  • How do you see the media discussing men?
  • Do the participants remind you of men in your life?
  • How are you affected by the way men think about themselves as men?

Resources

2. External Expectations

The three most destructive words every man receives when he’s a boy is when he is told to “be a man.“
Joe Ehrmann, former NFL player, football coach, & educator

If it would destroy [a 12-year-old boy] to be called a girl, what are we then teaching him about girls?
Tony Porter, educator and activist

You want to be the kid who beats your rival team in lacrosse and drinks that night to celebrate and has sex with a girl.
-Chet, research participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • What were some of the first messages you learned about how men are supposed to think, feel, and behave or not think, feel, and behave?
  • How many of those still apply, consciously and unconsciously?
  • What cultural masculinities do you identify with?

Questions for us all:

  • How do these expectations of men affect men? People of all genders?
  • What would a similar version of this activity look like for women? What would be similar or different?
  • What might it be like for transgender and gender-nonconforming people to break from these gender expectations? What would be hard about this? What could be liberating?

Resources

3. Why wear a mask?

Learning to wear a mask (that word already embedded in the term “masculinity”) is the first lesson in patriarchal masculinity that a boy learns. He learns that his core feelings cannot be expressed if they do not conform to the acceptable behaviors sexism defines as male. Asked to give up the true self in order to realize the patriarchal ideal, boys learn self-betrayal early and are rewarded for these acts of soul murder.
― bell hooks, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love

I think behind it all, people who try to be overly masculine are somewhat insecure with themselves. I guess you could say they are lost in a sense, and they obviously turn toward societal norms for how they should be acting.”
– Kumar, research participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • In what ways have you and do you find yourself feeling not man enough?
  • What are you covering up or hiding that you are afraid might not be perceived as manly?
  • What are you projecting so others will see you as manly?
  • What masks do you navigate in different contexts?

 

Questions for us all:

  • How have you contributed to reinforcing these insecurities in men?
  • How is not feeling enough getting in the way of you discovering and being your authentic self?
  • What advice would you have for your younger self?

 

Resources

4. Wearing Masks

There is no gender identity behind the expressions of gender; that identity is performatively constituted by the very “expressions” that are said to be its results.
– Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity

I think people definitely put on a guise of some sort. People definitely put on a front a lot of the time, just to act tough. Just to act big.
– Noah, research participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • How do you perform manhood?
  • How do you wear masks?
  • How do you wear cultural masks?
  • How has this changed over time?

 

Questions for us all:

  • Think about important men in your life. What masks have they been showing you?
  • What expectations do you experience, and how do you navigate them at work, at home, and in social situations?

 

5. Consequences

Choose your self-presentations carefully, for what starts out as a mask may become your face.
-Erving Goffman, sociologist

I like to listen to R&B music. So I will cut that on when I am in the room or whatever, and then when my roommates come back or my friends come over, I change the music.
-Jason, research participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • How do the performances you and other men put on create harm for people of other genders?
  • Do you and your father hug or say “I love you”?
  • What moves you to tears? When was the last time you cried?

 

Questions for us all:

  • In what ways do you pretend to be something you are not? What are the costs?
  • In what ways do you deny aspects of who you really are? What are the costs?
  • What have been the consequences for you of men wearing masks?
  • What consequences do you see for culture, society, and public life of men wearing masks?

 

Resources

6. Unmasking

This idea that we ask men to show up and to be vulnerable, to let themselves be seen, but that we really can’t tolerate it, was probably one of the most significant patterns that emerged from my work with men.
-Brené Brown, author, researcher, storyteller

Be yourself.
– Kumar, participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • Why might it be difficult to remove your mask(s)?
  • What makes it easier?
  • What critical influences and incidents help you take your masks off?
  • What experiences or feelings snap the masks right back into place?

 

Questions for us all:

  • How can we be positive critical influences on others in our lives?
  • How can we process the traumas we have experienced to aid in our healing and growth?
  • How can our healing help us help others heal?

 

Resources

7. The Process of Becoming

Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.
-Michelle Obama, Becoming

“[I’m] growing into myself and becoming more self-aware… being my authentic self not feeling the need anymore to try to be something different than I am. And I’m just going to be myself.”
– Frank, participant

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • What does authentic masculinity mean to you?
  • How do you discover your authentic masculinity?
  • How do you live into your authentic masculinity?
  • How does your version of authentic masculinity align and not align with society’s expectations?

Questions for us all:

  • How are you wildly unfinished?
  • What do you need to unlearn?
  • Who are you becoming?

Resources

8. Exploring Identity

My youthful understanding of “Let your life speak” led me to conjure up the highest values I could imagine and then try to conform my life to them whether they were mine or not. If that sounds like what we are supposed to do with values, it is because that is what we are too often taught.
-Parker Palmer, Let My Life Speak

“I want to be a man who is in touch with one’s emotions and to honestly be vulnerable. These are not solely manly qualities, but there is a certain strength I find in someone who is in touch with their emotions—who is not afraid to be vulnerable or who can admit their insecurities. So, someone who is very self-aware… I guess a lot of it goes against the stereotypes.
-Sean, participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • Who are you behind the mask?
  • What expectations of you as a man do you need to unlearn?
  • How has wearing the mask helped you discover who you are and who you are not?

 

Questions for us all:

  • How can you be curious about your past (memories and learnings)?
  • What do you need to unlearn?
  • What biases or stereotypes do you have about others or people like you that you need to unlearn? 
  • What do you hope will be said at your funeral?
  • What is the purpose of your life in a single sentence?
  • What are your four to six core values?

 

Resources

9. Aligning Actions

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Among my gay friends—and we all know we’re gay—it’s funny to think back about how we tried to out-mask the other… Why can’t we just be who we are? Getting involved in football or going to a sports bar and not really being interested in watching the game, but you know, drinking awful light beer and wondering why are we doing this… Why am I doing this?
– Daniel, participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • What mantra might remind you to be a better man?
  • When you mess up, what gets in your way of accepting accountability?

 

Questions for us all:

  • How are you kidding yourself?
  • How do you accept accountability when you mess up?
  • In what areas of your life do you know better but need to work on doing better?
  • How do you handle your inner critic?
  • How do you tend to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being?
  • What apologies do you need to make? How can you make better apologies?
  • Who do you need to forgive? Yourself?

 

Resources

10. Engaging Men

As such, the path to a future in which humans can be in an authentic and accountable peace with each other is fractal—we must be willing to practice authenticity and accountability at the small scale of ourselves and our lives, both in ourselves and in our immediate relationships.
– adrienne maree brown, author, activist, & facilitator

It is just basically being able to trust that person enough to let down your guard in terms of showing emotion… not being afraid of homophobia… You are not trying to outdo each other… Fear of vulnerability, which is basically a fear of showing emotions or showing weakness.
-Nicholas, participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • Who has been good company on your journey of becoming a man?
  • How have your experiences as a man helped you connect with other men?
  • What learning bridges have been hard for you to cross as a man?
  • What would shift if you had permission to stop being the man you felt you had to be and permission to be who you are?
  • How can you hold other men accountable? Yourself?

 

Questions for us all:

  • As you’ve read this book, who are the men you have been thinking about, empathizing with, missing, or concerned for?
  • How do you cultivate hope?
  • How can you give permission to men in your life to stop pretending and start being themselves?
  • How would you like to hold men in your life accountable?

 

Resources

11. Creating Systemic Change

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
-Lila Watson, aboriginal activist

When we live with secrets and lies, and we put this mask on, we never can experience true, genuine love because if you love me with the mask on, you’re not loving me truly.
-Sean, participant

 

Questions for Reflection
Questions for men and the men in your life:

  • What does authentic masculinity mean to you? 
  • When you are authentically yourself, what does that look and feel like?
  • What has changed about the expectations for being a man during your lifetime?
  • How would you benefit from addressing sexism and rigid gender roles?
  • What possibilities can you imagine for new ways of being a man?
  • As a man, what role can you play in being part of the solution?

Questions for us all:

  • What cultural changes have you seen in your lifetime? 
  • What cultural changes would you like to see in your lifetime?
  • What possibilities can you imagine for your communities?
  • How do you want to be part of the solution?

Resources

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