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Wrestling with Manhood

Boys, Bullying & Battering

Wrestling with Manhood

Duration: 60 min
ISBN: 1-893521-76-1
Date Produced: 2003
Subtitles: English

Filmmaker Info
Study Guide
Praise for the Film

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Wrestling with Manhood
Boys, Bullying & Battering

Wrestling with Manhood is the first educational program to pay attention to the enormous popularity of professional wrestling among male youth, addressing its relationship to real-life violence and probing the social values that sustain it as a powerful cultural force. Richly illustrating their analysis with numerous examples, Sut Jhally and Jackson Katz - the award-winning creators of the videos Dreamworlds and Tough Guise, respectively - offer a new way to think about the enduring problems of men's violence against women and bullying in our schools.

Drawing the connection between professional wrestling and the construction of contemporary masculinity, they show how so-called "entertainment" is related to homophobia, sexual assault and relationship violence. They further argue that to not engage with wrestling in a serious manner allows cynical promoters of violence and sexism an uncontested role in the process by which boys become "men."

Designed to engage the wrestling fan as well as the cultural analyst, Wrestling with Manhood will provoke spirited debate about some of our most serious social problems.

The DVD includes two versions of Wrestling with Manhood. Both contain violent physical and sexual imagery, and viewer discretion is strongly advised. The abridged version (45 min.) is edited for profanity, nudity, and length.

Sections: Taking Wrestling Seriously | Happy & Escalating Violence | Making Men: Glamorizing Bullying | Homophobia & Constructing Heterosexuality | Divas: Sex & Male Fantasy | Normalizing Gender Violence | It's Only Entertainment?

Sut Jhally

Sut Jhally is Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Founder and Executive Director of the Media Education Foundation. He is one of the world's leading scholars looking at the role played by advertising and popular culture in the processes of social control and identity construction. The author of numerous books and articles on media (including The Codes of Advertising and Enlightened Racism) he is also an award-winning teacher (a recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award at the University of Massachusetts, where the student newspaper has also voted him "Best professor"). In addition, he has been awarded the Distinguished Outreach Award, and was selected to deliver a Distinguished Faculty Lecture in 2007. He is best known as the producer and director of a number of films and videos (including Dreamworlds: Desire/Sex/Power in Music Video; Tough Guise: Media, Violence and the Crisis of Masculinity; and Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear & the Selling of American Empire) that deal with issues ranging from gender, sexuality and race to commercialism, violence and politics. Born in Kenya, raised in England, educated in graduate studies in Canada, he currently lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Jackson Katz

Jackson Katz is one of America's leading anti-sexist male activists. An educator, author and filmmaker, he is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work in gender violence prevention education with men and boys. He has lectured on hundreds of college and high school campuses and has conducted hundreds of professional trainings, seminars & workshops. He is the co-founder of the Mentors In Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the leading gender violence prevention initiative in professional and college athletics. Visit Jackson Katz's site at Jackson Katz is available for speaking engagements at colleges by contacting Kevin MacRae at Lordly & Dame. In addition, Jackson Katz conducts full or half-day trainings for college staff, faculty, and administrators; high school educators; sexual assault and domestic violence program staff; health-care and human services professionals; law enforcement personnel; and others. For schedule and fee information, e-mail Jackson Katz.

Filmmaker Info

Writer, Director: Sut Jhally
Producer: Ronit Ridberg
Editors: Ronit Ridberg, Sut Jhally
Script Consultants: Jackson Katz, Jeremy Earp

Film Festivals

Press Reviews

Praise for the Film

"Katz and Jhally's unflinching critique forces back the curtain on professional wrestling to reveal the vicious sexism and virulent homophobia of the spectacle... Just harmless entertainment? Think again."
- Michael Kimmel | Author, Manhood in America

"Wrestling is such a common point of reference among teen males that great conversation from this video is a guarantee. It is definitely my new favorite educational tool."
- Christopher Spicer | Responsible Males Program, Planned Parenthood-Buffalo

"A powerful and provocative look at how the professional wrestling industry has wrapped up inhumane, degrading, sexualized violence in a nice little package and sold it to the public as "entertainment." Wrestling with Manhood unwraps that package, critically examines its contents, and exposes the dangers it presents to our culture. The film encourages viewers to engage in the critical thinking necessary to break down individual and societal beliefs, attitudes, and norms that perpetuate and encourage sexual violence."
- Heather Sturm | Coordinator, CU Rape & Gender Education Program

"I am in the unique position of not only being employed with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, but also serving as a School Board Director. This film has made a deep impact on both of those aspects of my life. I'm not sure what is more appalling - the scripted portrayal of bullying, sexual harassment, and gay bashing by the wrestlers/actors; or the horrific way the audience reacts to them...Every parent must watch this film before allowing their children to watch the WWE!"
- Jennie Siegler | Director, Juaniata School Board | PA & Technical Assistance Coordinator, PCAR

"As numerous sport studies scholars have argued for the past 25 years, sport is largely a patriarchal domain that condones, and often rewards, hegemonic forms of masculinity where men act like "real" men. This video is a startling depiction of Messner's "triad of male violence," as male wrestlers abuse their own bodies, brutalize other male wrestlers and peripheral characters, and most disturbingly, regularly terrorize women. ...In 5 or 10 years, the young fans of WWE wrestling will be in our classes, in our workshops, and in our offices, sitting across from us asking about visualization, goal setting, or mental toughness, we should ask them, "What does tough mean to you?"
- Ted M. Butryn | The Sport Psychologist

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