'Male-identifying folks' address 'toxic masculinity' in UW film

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created a short film to “deconstruct” the dangers of “toxic masculinity.”

“Maskuline” is a roughly 30-minute film that was created to “allow male identifying individuals to examine their masculinity,” according to the Facebook event for the film’s premier.

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Eneale Pickett, who helped devise the theme with the help of three other students who recorded and edited the footage, told Campus Reform that the film seeks to show the negative impact that societal assumptions about masculinity have on men.

“Masculinity can be so toxic, so blinding,” Pickett said. “The definition of masculinity is a social construction. It’s harmful.”

The project involved getting “individuals assigned male-at-birth and male-identifying folks,” some as young as 14, to write letters to themselves about the problems they experience with their masculinity, and then having them read those letters aloud in front of a camera.

The producers call the approach “critical self-reflection,” describing it as a way for “male-identifying folks to address the potentially dangerous aspects of their masculinity that they wouldn't necessarily think about on a dialy [sic] basis.”

[RELATED: Schools offer ‘safe spaces’ to combat ‘toxic masculinity’]

The film premiered this month at a local art museum near campus, though Pickett said the producers are currently looking to release the film to a wider audience.

Pickett has a particular interest in showing the film more widely, insofar as he operates an apparel business, Insert Apparel, that sold “Dear Masculinity” themed t-shirts at the film’s premier.

The shirts featured designs saying “Dear Masculinity, Can I Be More than a Steel Structure” and “Dear Masculinity, I cry because I’m human.”

The shirts are a stark departure from Pickett’s previous clothing designs, which first gained notice when Campus Reform reported on hooded sweatshirts Pickett was selling featuring messages asserting that “all white people are racist” and promoting violence against police officers.

Currently, his shop features three new designs: “Fuck White Supremacy,” “Black Boy Brilliance,” and “Stay Woke.”

[RELATED: UW washes hands of racist, anti-police hoodies]

Pickett said he’s glad to have helped collaborate on the film, Maskuline, the title of which refers to the concept of masculinity as a “mask” that men wear every day, opining that “the film is really powerful.”

The other students who produced the film declined to be interviewed by Campus Reform.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen