tough guise: compulsory masculinity

May 16, 2008  |  essays

This video, Tough Guise: Violence, Media, & the Crisis in Masculinity narrated by Jackson Katz, was something I first watched in college that significantly changed the ways I viewed masculinity and men.

I’m continuously thinking about masculinity, what it means, how we learn it, who enforces it, and this film was a key aspect to where I’ve come to in my understanding.

This is a small trailer version of the entire film. The whole thing may be kinda hard to hunt down, I’m not sure how to get hold of a copy aside from through the Media Education Foundation, but they’re priced for colleges and high schools, not individuals. Perhaps your library has it?

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5 Comments


  1. I've seen this more than 12 times over the last 6 years, and he came to speak for TBTN one year (not so good of an in-person speaker). At first, I thought this was a fabulous movie, and it was…10 years ago, or when ever it made. Just like Killing Us Softly was a wonderful movie….10 or 20 years ago.

    But I think we need to move on and process more. Let's talk about how masculinity affects the queer community, with stereotypes, expectations, hatred towards those who don't fit in. Let's talk about how advertising (esp tobacco) targets queer youth, and perpetuates stereotypes of the queer community. Let's talk about advertising and its impact on masculinities (because the tide now envelops men AND women). How about femininity – I think it has a box just like masculinity, and if you don't fall into it (whether by look or actions or both), you're a "dyke," you'll never "get a man," you're "ugly," you're "fat."

    I feel there is so much more to be done on these issues, and no one to do them. If I had the money and the time for the research, I'd try to tackle at least one of these subjects…but in this economy, who is paying to make these films? Yeah…no one.

  2. This is good basic information to start groups and individuals looking at and talking about what changes we each can make.

    My father, son of an alcoholic, has played the tough guise all his life. If you touch his shoulders, he is so armored he can't feel. Sad.

  3. I just saw this same clip at a feminist thingy in the UK a few weeks ago – I didn't realise it was part of a full-length film, though.

    Just this clip is a really good introduction, definitely, to thinking about masculinities – would be really interesting to see the whole thing. Seems like a shame it's not more readily available… !

  4. I've seen this a couple times before too, and the point here is not so much that men have rigid gender roles, but that those roles involve the physical danger of the violence that is incorporated in the masculine role. This is the basic problem to solve, as we begin the revolution of masculinity and "Tough Guise" is an important step in demystifying masculinity.

  5. Tough Guise Part 2 is coming down the pike.

    If folks have thoughts about masculinity, women, the queer community, etc. seems like this would be a great moment to get in touch w/Jackson Katz. He's findable through http://jacksonkatz.com. Tough Guise is pricey, for sure! It's available for free full-length preview at the Media Education Foundation website.

    Thanks for all these posts, Mr. Sexsmith! xo

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