Tough Guise: The Impact Of Media, Violence And The Crisis In Masculinity On Young Adolescent Males

Jackson Katz’s film Tough Guise released in 1999 explores violence, media and the crisis in masculinity. The video begins with multiple media clips that reinforce the social construction of masculine identities. These certain identities have become harmful to male audiences because of the qualities that men feel they need to illustrate to be a ‘’real man. ’’ These qualities are dangerous and lead to violence and negative attitudes. In this paper I will be analyzing how the media and these concepts can be damaging to males and especially young adolescent males. Katz’s definition of ‘tough guise’’ is that to be masculine means we must take on this ‘’tough guise’’ act and to only show the world certain parts of our self that the dominant culture has deemed as masculine. I agree that to be a masculine we often feel pressure to fit into a box regarding a certain way we should act and to not let our guard down, otherwise we may be taken as being less manly.

This is destructive because it is showing adolescent males that if we do not fit into this box of masculine characteristics, in turn we will be less of a ‘’real man’’. In Katz’s video young men are interviewed and are asked what being a real man means. The characteristics that were listed are shocking and reinforce the mainstream ideas of what being masculine is. Some of the identities listed included being tough, physical, in control and muscular. Young boys feel pressure to fit these qualities otherwise on the opposite side of the spectrum they will be noted as being ‘’pussies’’ and ‘’fags. ’’ Boys learn these concepts through movies, video games, sports and even toys. It starts at a young age that a boy knows the difference between being a ‘’real man’’ and an ‘’un-manly’’ man. I agree that it can be tough to be a male sometimes because we want to keep up this tough guise pose from an early age. Being a male, I will agree, and have noticed that other males will act in this way just to be perceived as normal and to fit in with their fellow peers. This idea is constructed in our minds from a number of different ways. The media plays a crucial role in perpetuating these attitudes. Not only can media be harmful in how it makes us feel about ourselves; it can also lead to violence.

At the beginning of the film we are shown clips of abused women and given shocking statistics, that ‘’two and three million women are battered in their homes every year. ’’ Most of these acts are the result of domestic abuse from a male partner. Some men may feel they are superior to women and therefore justify the violence. Media has made it customary for us to turn on the television and see a movie where a female is abused. These acts of violence have almost become invisible because they are so normalized. I disagree that these images alone are the cause for violence against women. But when males and especially young males do view violence in the media I believe it does regularise it and in turn may make some males feel that violence is an appropriate form of action. Not only does the media showcase violence against women but many films are full of violent scenes that have male on male fight scenes. When watching these films, we feel that to be the best we must win and be the toughest opponent. This can result in making us feel this way in our daily lives. It is no question that many males get into fights and feel the need to showcase their masculinity. I do not agree that all males when viewing various media outlets will learn these attitudes, but it does contribute to violence. For numerous men it is cemented into our minds that to be a ‘’real man’’ means being violent.

Jackson Katz’s film discusses how the media plays a role in showcasing violence and perpetuating the idea of male masculinity and the importance of being a ‘’tough guise. ’’ From a young age, boys have learnt they must possess these destructive qualities to be what the media and society describes as a ‘’real man. ’’ These qualities are dangerous and lead to violence and negative attitudes. When males follow along with these identities it further reinstates that to be a tough male violence is necessary. The media has a strong voice and when it continues to show images of male masculinity and violence it regenerates the ideas that males must conform to violence and acting tough to be accepted into our dominant culture.

15 April 2020
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