The Mask of Masculinity is one of those books that just happened to cross paths with me. I found out about the book and its author, Lewis Howes, while listening to inspirational videos on Youtube one morning while I cleaned up and cooked my eggs. A couple hours later, I popped right over to the local library and picked this book up. I love when it happens that way!
To be fair, I had put it out to the universe that I wanted to find a book that could maybe give me some insight into the pressures of masculinity felt by my teenage brothers. Maybe a book that I could feel comfortable gifting to them. And when I heard about The Mask of Masculinity, it seemed like a Higher Power had really been listening.
The Mask of Masculinity speaks about nine different (you guessed it) “masks” that men hide behind in order to feel masculine, powerful, worthy, accepted, etc. You’ve got your material mask, your sexual mask, your joker mask, and so on and then some. And all of them come with their own mindsets and rules about how to be a man, or as Lewis Howes writes about, how to be the man.
Lewis Howes is a former professional athlete turned successful entrepreneur who has experienced child sexual abuse, bullying, and navigating the educational landscape with a learning disability. After the success of his first book, The School of Greatness, he only felt lost, lonely, and depressed and wanted to figure out why. The Mask of Masculinity started right there in that experience of despair.
I thought this book provided some valid information and there were even a couple “aha” moments for me. I found myself categorizing the men in my life by which masks they seem to have worn while in relationship with me. I could easily see that my grandfather had worn the know-it-all mask and my ex had worn the athlete and the aggressive masks. I even felt like I was noticing what masks the young men at my daughters’ school were trying on for size as I heard the rundown of what happened at school that day.
The book’s breakdown by masks is simplistic. In my situation, I’m grateful for this since I was looking for a book a teenage boy might actually pick up. I feel like the writing wasn’t superb by any means – very basic, conversational stuff – but again, that’s a plus considering what I was looking for. At the end of each chapter, there’s a “What Can We Do Right Now?” section with a few suggestions for men who want to work on removing that chapter’s particular mask. There’s even a small recommendation for women who want to be supportive. I truly appreciate the effort Howes took to put action steps into a book like this. I have to be honest, though, I started to cringe after he used these sections to call the male reader a “gift” to be celebrated…for the third time, the fifth time, the ninth time. You understand what I’m saying. Oh well, it’s the intention that counts.
When it comes down to it, I found interesting information in this book. And I consider it to be a great starting point when educating yourself about masculinity in today’s world. However, if you’re already familiar with the topic, a starting point may not be worth your time or effort.
Final review: I think this book will be making it into my Amazon cart so I can give it to those teenage brothers of mine. I appreciate that a book like this exists for young men like them and I thank Mr. Howes for it. 🙏
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