My Thoughts on The Mask of Masculinity
Have you ever been helped by someone you love? Or maybe you have never shared with a loved one how sad, depressed, or frustrated you are?
Have you ever constantly made jokes, just to make the room less awkward, to fill a void in the air?
If you can’t admit to any of the above statements, chances are, you have one of the masks Lewis Howes describes in his book, The Mask of Masculinity.
Why I purchased this book
I got The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes, when I saw him live at the Archangel Summit in Toronto. Lewis was kind enough to put it in our “swag bags”!
Having followed Lewis for a few years prior to reading the book, I was intrigued by his thought processes. Lewis has been coached by elite entrepreneurs and has also been an athlete, which brings a totally different perspective.
If it wasn’t for my personal connection with Lewis, I probably wouldn’t have ended up reading this book. I wouldn’t have read it because I didn’t think that I needed any of the information in it and thought that the masks were somewhat pointless to know about.
The mask I was wearing
After reading the book, it was very obvious that I was wearing the Alpha Mask. This was also the reason that I didn’t want to read the book in the first place.
I always believed you were either winning or losing and felt that this book wouldn’t put me any closer to winning. I was wrong for assuming that.
Do all men wear masks?
Lewis Howes believes that most men suffer from wearing at least one of the nine masks that he outlines in his book. If you were to ask me, I would say the same. As men, there are a lot of societal factors where we feel forced into wearing one of them.
The 9 Masks in The Mask of Masculinity
The book talks about nine masks, which are detailed below. With each mask, I provide my opinion on why someone would wear it and a takeaway from the chapter.
The Stoic Mask
“I cannot show emotion”
This is a mask that I actually wear, and can confidently say that. I have got better at showing emotion, but I used to be a firm believer that because I am a male, I cannot cry in front of people.
I always believed that because I’m the “man of the house”, if I cry, then it shows I’m weak, and what would everyone else think? It’s like your boss being worried that the business is going to go bankrupt, would you be scared too? Probably.
The one takeaway I had from this chapter was that it is okay to show emotion, and in fact, it is healthy to show emotion. I haven’t totally been able to execute the tearing off of this mask.
The Athlete Mask
“I must be the best on the court, if I’m good on the court, I’ll be the best off the court”
I’ve played sports all my life and love them. I believe that sports provide great opportunities for young boys growing up. Part of being a young athlete is learning to navigate the locker room, the players, and the coaches.
To this day, I consider myself a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and an overall football nut. Despite sports playing an important role in my life, I never had worn this mask.
Growing up, my parents never forced me to play competitive sports and I had to be pushed to make the next step. I wanted to play for fun, and that was it. Of course, I wanted to win, but I didn’t go to the lengths to do that.
If you’re like me, you probably know many male athletes who wear this mask.
Do you fight through injury and pain?
This mask is worn by the modern-day gladiator, the person who fights through injury, pain, and everything in between just to get on the field or court.
You often see people get up after a big hit to the head, say they’re fine so they can skip the concussion testing just to get back on the field.
We are seeing how bad the effects of this now, especially in the National Football League, however, it is something that occurs in every sport.
Men who wear this mask believe that if you are a great athlete, you are a great person. People who are not great athletes, are bad people (typically). This is simply not true!
The Material Mask
“How much I have defines me”
The material mask is a mask that I have never worn, and probably never will. This is a very self-explanatory mask, as we often say people are “materialistic”.
The materialistic person will have confidence only when he is wearing the most expensive outfit, or at the most expensive dinner. The material person needs the $200 bottle of wine because the $30 bottle tastes horrible.
One of my friends was once wearing this mask at dinner. He had to order the more expensive wine because he loved it. I asked the waitress to bring a glass of the two we were deciding on. Sure enough, he didn’t know which the more expensive was just on taste.
I don’t really have much to say about this mask. You need to recognize that material possessions are not going to make you stronger or better.
The Sexual Mask
“My body count is higher than yours”
The sexual mask is a mask that I’ve never worn. Like me, you may know other men who have worn or wear this mask. I found that most people I know who wear this mask wore it during their 20s.
This mask is something that proves who you are to your friends. It gives people confidence and value to their inner circle. Men often think, “if I can have sex with 5 girls this weekend my friends will celebrate”.
If you are promiscuous with the opposite sex, it doesn’t mean you wear the mask either. With maturity, this mask tends to come off, although for some men it doesn’t.
The Aggressive Mask
I’ve seen this mask being worn before while sitting in a sports bar one evening. Two men sitting adjacent to our table stood up and started yelling at each other. It ended up getting physical between the two but luckily no one was injured.
The aggressive mask is the mask that men wear when they want to be tough and believe that aggression is the answer to problems. It is for the men who believe the more aggressive they are, the more fights they win.
You don’t need to show aggression when you’re angry. Taking a calm approach to problems can be the fastest way to resolve problems.
I rarely get aggressive, so it is safe to say I have never worn this mask either.
The Joker Mask
“Knock knock, who’s there?”
The Joker mask is the mask that I most relate to. I’ve often worn this mask when I’ve been under pressure at my day job by my boss.
The Joker mask typically uses sarcasm and humor to deflect questions that are deep or that require a connection. You are using sarcasm to deflect questions that you don’t want to answer.
In this chapter, Lewis Howes uses the example of Robin Williams, who he claims is one of the funniest people in the world. He constantly lived with a joker mask and was the laugh to every conversation.
Everyone who knew him said that Robin would always make everyone laugh.
If you’re using humor in your everyday life, it doesn’t mean that you are wearing the joker mask. However, when it comes to using humor to deflect real conversations, then you are wearing the mask.
Take some time to reflect on your use of laughter as a coping mechanism. I suggest you think about why you made certain jokes after you make them. Reflect on them, why did you make it?
The Invincible Mask
“I cannot get touched”
The man who doesn’t think of consequences is wearing the invincible mask. It is for the person who shows no sign of emotional or physical pain.
I’ve never experienced this mask and I don’t believe that this is extremely common either.
The Know It All Mask
A man is not only physically dominant but is intelligently dominant as well.
If you don’t know it, ask a man and he will be able to explain it to you.
I have seen live examples of this mask within the workplace. In my corporate job, I have actually seen both men and women wear this mask regularly.
People are afraid to admit that they do not know things because they don’t want to be looked down upon. You have a lot of people faking it, just to pretend they know what they are talking about and get by.
People with this mask believe that if they do not know everything, they feel low and not valued, which is why they “mansplain”.
Mansplaining is the act of pretending to know something and making it up on the spot.
The Alpha Mask
“I must be in control, I must be a winner”
Men believe that there are two results, winning and losing.
From that, comes two types of people, alpha men, and beta men. In fact, most men believe that they are alpha, and women are beta, which is not true.
Men who believe that he is alpha, always need to be in control, they will look down on you, and they won’t treat you as “alpha” if they don’t see you as one.
There have been times in my life where I have worn this mask, but not to this extent. I don’t wear it as men versus women, but rather me versus you. Lately, I’ve been more conscious and have removed the mask whenever it came on.
My Final Comment on Lewis Howes Mask of Masculinity Book Review
Overall, I think the key takeaway is that you need to be self-aware. You need to know what you suffer from, why, and find out how to eliminate it.
Truth is, if you are suffering from just one of these masks, you are definitely not living to your full potential – by wearing it, you just can’t reach your full potential!
I’ve made a conscious decision to actively try and get rid of my joker mask, which is the mask that I wear most of these 9.
Should you buy it?
If you are in sales or in a negotiation, reading this book can definitely help you understand the mask that someone is wearing, and how you can navigate the mask.
For example, if someone has a joker mask, tell them a joke. This will help you by allowing them to get a better perception of you.
I would suggest The Mask of Masculinity to males specifically, as most of it was directed to males.
Women were only given one small paragraph at the end of each chapter.
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