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Steam of Life

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Rethink Masculinity and Fatherhood

The men featured in Steam of Life open up to their friends about their pasts and their hopes for the future. The conversations that result give voice to a rarely seen side of Western men. Learn more about gender and rethink the way masculinity is described and displayed in your own communities.
  • Several of the men in the film talk about their hopes for their children or things they wish they could tell their children. Show Steam of Life at a father/son or father/daughter event and use one of those scenes as a springboard for your own father/child conversations.

  • Gather a group of friends and go to a sauna! Blog about your experiences and conversations.

  • Host a teach-in for young people (on campus or in youth groups) featuring speakers who study gender and masculinity. Follow up with a discussion.

  • Create a safe space in your community where men and boys can tell their stories and share their feelings.

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

Steam of Life is a comic and moving study of Finnish men as framed by Finland’s national obsession with the sauna. In the sauna, Finnish men come together to sweat out not only the grime of contemporary life, but also their grief, hopes, joys and memories. This acclaimed film provides a surprising and intimate glimpse into the lives of Finnish men. Along the way, it challenges viewers to examine the often contradictory demands of male culture. As an outreach tool, it can prompt deep discussions about masculinity and how its social constructions affect the ways that men heal from trauma, express emotion, establish friendships, interact with children and understand their roles and responsibilities.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will look closely at the unrehearsed stories that people tell each other every day (“natural narratives”) and discover their underlying organization. Using the model for natural narratives created by linguist William Labov, students will break down a story told on film by a Finnish man, as well as natural narratives of their own, in order to identify the structure common to well-developed narratives.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This multi-media resource list, compiled by Jean-Marie Miele of the San Diego Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by Steam of Life. Read more about Finnish culture, sauna, and masculinity.

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