“Masculinity!? Girl, what do I know about Masculinity!?”. This was my initial response to being asked to direct The Masculinity Project. And after weeks of toiling with the idea, consulting my nearest and dearest friends, I decided to go on this journey. It is usually the things that scare us most that can enlighten us the most. Not that I was scared (okay, maybe a little), but there was a fair amount of doubt I had about my ability to navigate masculinity. The word itself pulls my imagination into locker rooms, sporting events, barbershops, battlefields, and all the other stereotypical things associated with the masculine and the virile. All things I had somehow convinced myself was none of my business.
Yet masculinity is a tricky thing. It can be both obvious and elusive, universal and deeply personal, freeing and yet constricting. Even when I was approached about what my take on masculinity was going to be, I found myself unable to define it and rectify its issues. What was the takeaway going to be for a project that attempted to explain, cure, or justify society’s practices around masculinity? A facet of life so diverse in its performance that in the attempt to define it, you already lose what it really encompasses. Instead of getting lost in the sauce of making some sort of decree about masculinity, I focused on healing. My response alone was evidence that there was healing to be done. Prompted by clear signs from the Cosmos, I sought to heal instead of to define. I told myself that I didn’t fit in with masculine ideals, but when I took the time to think about it, there it was intertwined with all the other parts of myself. How was it that I distanced myself from this identity, but it was living in perfect tandem with everything about me that felt so sacred? There was a slew of evidence pointing to not only me being masculine but also being damn good at it!
What stood in the way of my relationship with Masculinity? Trauma. Shame. Ignorance. False narratives about my ability to be masculine lived in my unconsciousness and I needed to become conscious to move on. So for 3 weeks, I researched, journaled, critiqued, pushed, giggled, growled, yelled, threw, researched again, meditated, etc. What did I discover? I’m not going to tell you. I could, but my epiphanies can’t be your revelations. I brought seven inquisitive, deeply intuitive, and talented artists with me on this journey in hopes that our energies of introspection and construction could reverberate in our circles and beyond. Consider this your invitation to do the same.
If I leave you with anything, take away that masculinity lives in all of us, and to understand it and not fall victim to it, we must be intentional about our relationship with it. This can be said about anything in life, but I think there’s a unique gap in our perception of the masculine. Many of us praise, emulate, critique, and protect masculinity without evaluating how it operates in our bodies and our experiences. So please review what you’ve learned, what you have done, look at the representations that currently exist around you, and go create a new masculine future.
Maurice D. Palmer