August 28, 2020 in Analysis

Boys Don’t Cry Film Analysis

Gender psychology is the branch of psychology that explores the interaction and relationships between males and females. One can distinguish the following gender problems: hegemonic masculinity, gendered violence, the necessity to categorize genders, and masculine toughness. As a result, gender issues have become the subjects to many films and literature. The film Boys Don’t Cry highlights the negative impact of hegemonic masculinity on the construction of sexuality and gender. Moreover, such dilemma as violence against women remains sharp and alarming even for the modern community where the gender equality is promoted. Consequently, this essay intends to analyze the following gender issues in the film Boys Don’t Cry: hegemonic masculinity leading to the increase in the violence and aggression, feministic spirits, and violence against women.

Hegemonic Masculinity

In gender psychology, hegemonic masculinity is the idealization of the male personality. Consequently, the film Boys Don’t Cry presents the masculine identity with such characteristics as dominance and violence as the ways of solving the conflicts. First, the name of the film clearly indicates its theme related to gender roles and sexuality. Moreover, the real life story of a female who became the victim of raping and murdering was used by the film director. Second, the main character Brandon Teena is a female who has become the male transgendered person and does not want to be restricted by gender stereotypes that exist in his hometown. Brandon Teena does not feel safe undergoing the physical threats by men. As a result, he is forced to move to Nebraska. It is evident that hegemonic masculinity gives birth to the stereotypes, violence, and abuse.

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The film Boys Don’t Cry reveals the expectations of masculinity. For example, the scene with Brandon’s participation in a police chase proves this. Brandon follows the instructions of John underlines that masculinity refers to the car culture that is accompanied by aggressive driving and speeding. Such behavior in the road reinforces the hierarchies of male influence, power and status in the community. At the beginning of Boys Don’t Cry, Brandon tries to confirm the male appearance, behaviors, attitudes, and values. However, the main character can demonstrate the external expectations of masculinity. Gender values of the male personality are hidden in the internal entity of men. Wearing ‘masculine’ clothing, demonstrating male patterns of behavior, and cutting hair are not the only activities that can turn a woman into a man. Brandon omits the fact that the society has dictated the roles of males and females. Males have leading roles, and females receive the subordinate roles.

Feministic Spirits in the Film

Feminism is another gender dilemma of the film Boys Don’t Cry. Brandon Teena tries to assert the importance of the female body that undergoes violent abuse and unspeakable pleasures. Moreover, the story of the main character destabilizes the understanding of gender identity. Feminism presupposes living the contradiction like Brandon Teena does. Furthermore, the feminist consciousness of the main character is evident in such processes as displacement and self-displacement. Teena’s displacement is in changing the place of living because of the violent attacks from males. His self-displacement is in the desire to become a female in spite of masculine hegemony and uncertain position of woman in the society. Transgender violence targets males and females. Consequently, the film Boys Don’t Cry demonstrates the incentives to integrate transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, and feminist concerns analyzing violence against women. 

The feministic spirits in the film are reinforced by the expectations of what it is to be a ‘real man’ in the modern society. However, these expectations result in the stigmatization of others and contradict to the socially constructed standards. 

Violence against Women

Violence against women is another gender issue that is violated in the film Boys Don’t Cry. For example, when Brandon reports about being abused and raped by Lotter and Nisssen, Sheriff Laux refuses to believe him. It means that woman’s word costs nothing comparing with men’s ones. Moreover, it proves about the male unwillingness to trust a woman who speaks about her sexual identity. Sheriff Laux regards Brandon’s change of gender as the sexual pathology and deviance. As a result, stereotypical thinking is a driving force of violence and hatred against women and sexual minorities. Furthermore, Brandon’s relationships with other women are regarded as the signs of pathology, perversion, and monstrosity. One should say that Brandon’s gender identity crisis is seen as a willful act of deceit. It means that violence against women is inevitable as men disregard their interests and problems. 

In the documentary Boys Don’t Cry the problem of masculine superiority is reinforced through violence (aggression, self-mutilation, car chases, and bar fights). Men are engaged in these activities to demonstrate their power and strength.  Brandon also is involved in the male behaviors to prove his male entity and receive the approval from Tom and John. However, the external indicators of men cannot persuade in the genuine masculinity. Consequently, Brandon undergoes the violence and abuse as all females as the social structure of the community embeds the ideology of masculinity. One should also mention that the protagonist strives for having the role of the man. However, Brandon begins to feel empty and depressive because of the search of acceptance and conduct like as a man. It means that masculine community is strange to him as it is full of stereotypes, superiority, and power that restrict the changes in gender roles. 

Violence against women depicted in the film proves the need in the society to differentiate genders. However, the differentiation of gender based on biological indicators imposes the way men treat women. For example, the scene in the film where John and Tom lock Brandon into the washroom and put off his pants physically underlines the need to identify gender based on the biological peculiarities. Moreover, one should mention that men are unaware of Brandon’s gender until he is in the women’s detention center. It means that orientation on the biological and physical characteristics gives birth to the inability to tolerate the sexual minorities. 

Another example of the uncertain and unequal place in the society is in Brandon’s raping and his humiliation by the sheriff who blames Brandon because of his ‘misleading’ gender. Such attitude proves the restrictions in the perception and understanding of gender roles that increases the crime rate, violence, and cruelty in the community. It is ridiculous that sheriff takes away his focus from the crime and shifts to the differentiation of gender. 


In conclusion, one should say the film Boys Don’t Cry is the documentary that reveals many gender issues such as hegemonic masculinity leading to the increase in the violence and aggression, feministic spirits, and violence against women. The scope of these problems proves that they remain sharp and alarming even in the modern community where the principles of gender equality are intensively promoted. Hegemonic masculinity is revealed through the treatment of people based on their biological sex, men’s superiority and power, violent activities as a part of males’ culture, and discrimination in the rights. Feministic spirits in the film are revealed with the help of gendered violence from the side of males. Even the transformation of the main character from a woman into a man does not save him from rape and abuse. Violence against women is a usual thing, and even becoming transsexuals or homosexuals does not deter them from cruelty and even deaths. The gender issues have the social entity, but they also refer the psychology of males and females. It means that it is necessary to change men’s psychology of regarding themselves as superior and powerful ones and women’s idea of being weak creatures.

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