Discussion Questions for Jackson Katz’s Tough Guise

Discussion Questions for Jackson Katz’s Tough Guise
Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity
Featuring Jackson Katz, Directed by Sut Jhally (1999)

Summary as appeared on the Media Education Foundation website:
While the social construction of femininity has been widely examined, the dominant role of masculinity has until recently remained largely invisible. Tough Guise is the first educational video geared toward college and high school students to systematically examine the relationship between pop-cultural imagery and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century.


What does the climactic scene of “the Wizard of Oz” as shown in the program reveal about masculinity according to Jackson Katz?

What is Katz’s definition of “tough guise”? Why do young men take on “tough guise”?

What qualities are defined as manly by the young people interviewed in the program? What terms are used to define the “unmanly” qualities? What do all these terms reveal about the concept of masculinity? How do boys learn such concepts?

Identify the common quality/qualities of the media images of masculinity and discuss how media construct these images in relation to specific race groups.

According to Katz, what do the statistics reveal about violence and gender?

What does Katz mean when he says “much of violence is cyclical”?

Why do you think Katz emphasizes the necessity of examining masculinity?

Part 1: Understanding Violent Masculinity

Hidden: A Gender

Why is violence rarely regarded as a gender issue despite 90% of violence being perpetrated by men?

Identify how language is used in media discussions of violence and what this may lead to.

Why did the film “Thelma and Louise” cause a big controversy in the 1990s according to Katz? In what way(s) does Katz criticize movie critics as far as violence is concerned?

What should be done to deal with the problem of violence according to Katz? Why?

Upping the Ante

In what way(s) have the images of men changed over the past 50 years? In what way(s) have the images of women changed over the past 50 years? What could be the reasons for these changes and what would a comparison between these images tell us about the culture in the States?

In what way(s) has the gun imagery changed over the years? What could this indicate?

What is the importance of media representations in the examination of masculinity?

What social movements are referred to in this part of the program and how did these movements in the 1960s and 70s threaten (the) masculinity?

What do the attitudes/jokes/comic acts of media figures such as Andrew Dice Clay, Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh and the content of the men’s television shows reveal about men, masculinity and culture in general? How do they perceive women? How do they perceive men?

What are the reasons for violence directed towards gay men? What messages does violence towards gay men send to heterosexual men?

What does Rambo as a media figure represent in relation to the loss of Vietnam War?

What does Rocky Balboa as a cultural icon represent?

Why does Katz criticize Ronald Reagan’s election campaign? What did Ronald Reagan signify culturally and politically? What connection between Reagan and John Wayne does Katz establish in his argument? What does the relationship between the two reveal about masculinity?

Tough Guise

Why do men of color need to adopt ‘tough guise’ according to Richard Majors, the author of “Cool Pose”?

What is the impact of the popularity of rap and hip-hop music on the cool pose? How do rap and hip-hop videos view the black male body?

What is the reason for white suburban middle class kids “acting black”? How do black men get their idea of manhood? What does this reveal about masculinity?

© Ali Nihat Eken, Istanbul, August 2008

Useful link: Killing us softly-3

BBC News: Five photos that sparked body image debates

BBC News: Nude and rude


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