This is a scene from the 1997 film “In and Out,” a gay romantic comedy. It stars Kevin Kline as a high school drama teacher who is forced to question his sexuality after a former student thanks and outs him as gay during the widely televised Academy Awards. In the process of confronting and questioning his own sexual identity, Kline’s character purchases and listens to a “self-help” tape on “how to be a man.” The tape tests him on (and, by extension, underscores the validity of) every stereotypical masculine behavior. Kline fails every test of “manhood” as prescribed by the tape.
What behaviors and characteristics define masculinity according to the self-help tape? How do they correspond to your own or what you perceive to be society’s definitions of masculinity?
How do we know what behaviors are masculine and what behaviors are feminine? Is being non-masculine the same as being feminine?
This clip suggests that because Kline is gay, he is not able to perform stereotypically masculine behavior. Are gay men typically associated with femininity? Why or why not?
Is masculinity simply a matter of following an instruction list of behaviors that are designated masculine? Do you think it is possible to program someone to be masculine or feminine?
Does the use of comedy in this scene challenge or reinforce the stereotypes we associate with masculinity? Does the use of comedy in this scene challenge or reinforce the stereotypes we associate with gay men?