American Male, a new short film about gender expectations and masculinity, has been released.
The film follows a college student as he attempts to prove his masculinity as part of a fraternity. But to do so, he has to suppress his sexual identity, and any aspects of his personality that might be considered feminine.
During the film, a voiceover plays, shedding light on the decisions he is forced to make to fit in with a rigidly masculine, heterosexual social group: “Order beer. Not wine. And beef, not chicken. Never light beer, though. And no tofu. Can’t get more gay than tofu,” he tells himself.
But conforming to strict ideas of masculinity takes its toll, and towards the end of the film he realises that he has become “no longer a person but a set of social cues.”
The film, which was directed by Michael Rohrbaugh, is one of the three winners of MTV’s Look Different creator competition, which aims to explore ideas of social privilege – how aspects of your identity, whether it’s gender, sexuality or race, give you certain advantages in life.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, American Male attempts to shed light on how the constant pressure to prove your masculinity that American men face is ultimately damaging to them. Particularly those who, due to sexuality, can’t fit the ideal.
“I would like for viewers to gain a better understanding of what life feels like in the closet,” he said. “I also hope they’ll reflect upon their own lives and think about falsehoods that might be holding them back.”
“So many of the social norms we’ve been taught are rooted in discrimination, and so many young people are taught to feel ashamed of who they are, raised to believe that there’s something wrong with them, that they’re not normal or not who they should be. Those types of lies are really destructive, which is why they must be exposed and debunked,” he continued.