I always thought I would make a great mom to a little girl. As a fairly girly girl, I always just assumed mothering a girl would come naturally. But, I'm not a mom to a girl, I'm a mom to a boy. A very young, very impressionable little boy, who I know learns something from each and every one of our interactions. I often find myself questioning what I want him to know about traditional gender roles, wondering if it's okay for him to play with that pink starfish or if I'm encouraging him to be girly by baking with him and reading to him so often. It's absolutely ridiculous, but it really is a result of the societal constructions I grew up with--American ideals paired with Latino machismo. I find myself correcting my own thinking and consulting with my husband A LOT about what is and isn't okay for a little boy--about what we want to teach him about being a man. 

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Honestly, I have no clue how to raise an innocent boy into a good man. What I do know is that I want my son to be compassionate and kind, healthy and confident, strong and sensitive, humble and successful, a man who demonstrates respect and is worthy of receiving it. I want him to know that it's okay to be the crier and the shoulder to cry on, that it's okay to need to talk and expect someone to listen, that it's okay to defend himself with words rather than fists.

So when I came across the trailer for an upcoming documentary about American Masculinity by the Representation Project, I was instantly impacted. I have no clue what it's like to be inside the mind of a man, but this three-minute video gave me quite the glimpse, and simply put, it's quite scary. Set to be released later this year, The Mask You Live In will explore American society's expectations and assumptions about manhood and masculinity and shed a light on what impact they are having on the lives of men from boyhood onward.

From a parent's standpoint, I'm deeming this film a must-watch and I will be at the ready as soon as it's released. But what's the immediate takeaway? The film's producers have decreed the three most dangerous words you can speak to your son are: "Be a man." And when you think about it, that totally makes sense. Because what exactly are men in this generation? It was a man who stole millions of dollars from his employees, it was a man who shot up innocent children in an elementary school, it was a man who kidnapped three young women and kept them as sex slaves in his basement for years. It almost seems that being "bad" is a side effect of being a man. Maybe we have the power to change that. Check out the trailer below.

Image via Daniel Thompson

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About the author

Shayne Rodriguez Thompson is a full-time wife, full-time mom, and freelance journalist trying to balance it all and looking forward to exploring the world with her son and husband. In her rare spare moments, she's a pop culture junkie and kitchen devotee who makes a mean cupcake!

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