Tough Guys

“Tough Guise” is a documentary focusing on how society has shaped males. The focus is on the violence in masculinity and how we have come to see that as the social norm.

The title, “Tough Guise,” is a play on words, as the main focus is on the male stigma of being a tough guy. Guise is an appearance or front put on, basically a disguise.

Jackson Katz goes on to explain the effects of the constructed violent masculinity as the social norm.  “85% of murders are committed by men. 90% of violent physical assaults are done by men. 95% of domestic violence is attributed to males.” The trauma of this violence is not only felt by women, but also men.  School shootings are typically done by males and as Jackson Katz points out, it is not just violence that the crimes should be attributed to, but rather violent masculinity. He points out that many of the shooters didn’t feel “masculine” enough on their own, so to prove that they were just as masculine they resorted to gun violence, which is often times portrayed as another sign of masculinity in media. Movies and television shows teach us that power and control merit respect and that the ability to scare people

In the past few decades images of males and figurines have grown in size drastically. If you look at Star Wars figurines from the 1970s and compare them to ones from the 1990s you would notice a big difference. Similar to the Star Wars ones, GI Joe’s biceps have grown from 12.2” in 1964 to 26.8” in 1998. In thirty four years his biceps grew 14.6”, more than doubling in size. To translate that into reality, Mark McGwire, who is someone we would consider to be physically strong, has only 20” biceps. If you look at the image below, you can see that his biceps are huge, now just imagine adding 6.8” to his circumference and you can see how deceiving the figurines and images are to males. They think that they need to match up to the way “real men” are portrayed in our society, when in actuality it is not even real.


Mark McGwire

Not only has the image of males changes, but the imagery of guns have grown with it. If you go through time and look at movies, etc. you will see that guns started off small in entertainment and have grown to the “normal” extreme as seen in movies such as The Terminator where not only is Arnold Schwarzenegger toting a gun in each had, but they are massive. And now, not only are the guns doing the killing, but Schwarzenegger’s body has become a killing machine too.

It is impossible to say that this does not impact our society, especially our vulnerable youth who are pushed more and more to fall into our “social norms.” We, as a society, should not be condoning this violent masculinity, but rather encouraging individuality and welcoming the differences.

TruetotheBlue (2012). Mark McGwire Close to Becoming Dodgers Hitting Coach, Retrieved from

Jackson, K (1999). Tough Guise. Retrieved from


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