Saint John’s Abbey Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



Gender and Sexuality | Social and Cultural Anthropology


The movie The Mask You Live In portrays gender socialization for men in the United States today as dominated by a trajectory emphasizing ruthless competition, a never-ending search for prestige in material wealth, and a largely self-serving quest to overcome and control women. The movie graphically depicts all the accompanying psychological dysfunction, legal difficulties, and emotional distress experienced by boys and young men desperately trying to conform to such a scripted model of masculinity. Anthropological research invites alternate ways of thinking about the relationship between sex and gender. This is especially true among those who claim a close relationship with the supernatural or transcendent. Can the methodology of cultural anthropology provisionally expand the consideration of gender variants to provide other ways of modeling masculinity without discarding the underlying gender binary altogether? Catholic Christian monastics —men and women who commit to communal devotional and service roles in the light of transcendent aims and ends—demonstrate the potential for providing healthier alternative masculinity scripts. More specifically, can monks successfully model and communicate such an alternative masculinity for men in a higher educational institutional setting?


DOI: 10.4236/jss.2017.56009