I watched this documentary called "The Mask You Live In", and I thought it's very relevant to the October focus of the month Behind the Facade. The documentary speaks of the culture of violence that is bred when boys are raised (and pressured) to live up to a certain idea of masculinity (non-feeling, tough, dominant, etc). Society created a mold of what "being a man" is, such that when boys are kids they are happy to be who they are, but as they start to become teenagers, they try hard to fit into that mold and lose connection with themselves and their peers, or are bullied when they do not fit into that mold. The narrow stereotype tells them that to "be a man", they have to repress their emotions, have shallow friendships, treat women like objects, and use violence to resolve conflicts.
But studies show that the intrinsic traits of any gender do not in fact fit into a narrow stereotype. Psychologist Michael G. Thompson says that if boys and girls took the same psychological test, there would be a 90% overlap in the results, not at all what society forces us to think that "boys are this way, and girls are that way." So the over-masculinization of men and the over-femininization of women is simply hurting us. We are in effect telling them that how they truly feel will not be accepted, that somehow there is something wrong with them when they do not fit the stereotype.
The solution is to break down this facade, to show that authenticity matters, to say that there is no mold to fit into, no mask to wear, no pretensions to keep up with. Gender stereotypes is one more piece of clothing that we wear, one more layer that hides who we are. All we want is to have genuine connection with others, to be cared for, to be loved.