If you haven’t yet read my introduction to this series, please do. It provides a foundation for these interviews, and defines “sacred masculinity” as we’re using it here.
Mo Beasley is an award-winning performance artist, author, educator, and community organizer. He’s the founder of Urban Erotika, a performance series celebrating erotic love through poetry, spoken word, music, dance, and theatre.
I had the very great honor of meeting him at the Catalyst Conference a few years ago, and he’s been an inspirational force in my life ever since. He’s sharp, passionate, and has a clarity about life that regularly amazes me. Whenever we talk or I get to hear him speak, I’m left both calm and energized. I hope you’ll have a similar experience here in reading his reflections on sacred masculinity and his experience of being a man.
What would you say are the characteristics of sacred masculinity?
- Respect, Reverence, and Love for the natural world, seen and unseen.
- A secure and serene disposition; open and unafraid of the different, uncommon, unusual, normal, non-traditional, and traditional aspects of masculinity.
- A melding of perennially positive and emerging aspects of ever-evolving masculinity.
- The use of “Sankofa” as a guiding light. “Sankofa” [of the Akan people of West Africa] teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.
Who are your archetypes of masculinity?
- My maternal uncles and older cousins [blues men who made something from nothing with their lives, careers, and families; on terms beyond mainstream standards].
- Jesus Christ
- Malcolm X
- James Baldwin
What do you think is needed for more of us to understand and embody these traits?
Valuing “Emotional Intelligence” and a sincere pursuit of holistic growth that finds us consistently reaching to be physically, psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually balanced. Doesn’t matter if we ever reach full balance. “The Joy is The Journey.” A spiritual foundation, of some form, that grounds you in a belief system that challenges you to grow.
What role(s) do you believe the masculine has in regards to the feminine? What do you see as a balanced dynamic there?
The masculine and feminine complement each other within all of us. Those two energies are two halves of the whole that makes us who we are. Just as we’re all children of our mothers and fathers we are products of feminine and masculine forces. Each instant, moment, challenge, opportunity…in life requires us to access one or both of those energies. If one of those forces are given more attention in our lives we approach everything from one perspective, whether it is productive or not, thus living an imbalanced life. If a hammer is your only tool for every choice in life the path you leave behind will be dented even in places where a flowers were meant to grow. The masculine is the yin to the feminine’s yang; and vice versa.
What is the role of vulnerability in strength?
Vulnerability tempers steels and allows it to be pliable, firm, soft [which doesn’t mean “weak”], stern, flexible, or solid when necessary.
How would you re-define the phrase, “be a man?”
- “Act Like An Adult”
- “Stand your ground/on your own convictions”
- “Be Strong”
- “Be Smart”
- “Be Wise”
What do you think we’ve been getting wrong about masculinity?
Believing that it should dominant femininity; that it’s greater, better, more valuable than femininity.
What’s your favorite thing about being a man?
- Having a penis is fantastic. [It was my knee jerk response. I was about to edit it myself with something more…”elevated.” But, the first thought is the honest answer.]
- An objective perspective on women.
- Physical prowess.
- My male mind. I do like the default aggression and logical disposition of being male. It may seem stereotypical to say that men are innately aggressive and logically orientated, but there is some truth in that perspective. I do believe men are more sensitive creations, thus our often explosive reactions when our feelings are hurt or egos bruised. And, I also believe my male instinct to assess situations and collect data before reacting emotionally is pretty cool. It shows up especially in my role as father. I have 3 daughters, and a grand-daughter. [My Baboloa aka, my spiritual coach, says I have some Karma to work out with women…FOR SURE!] My daughters are 33, 11, and 9, and my grand-daughter is 14. When my eldest calls in an uproar about personal and/or family issues she’s calling for her daddy to be the calm in her storm. To let her rage and then give her thought-filled food for thought, fueled by the emotion of love, and guided by reason. My “male mind” is always trying to find the solution or the fix. I’ve learned the hard way that my ‘”male minded” approach isn’t always whats needed. Especially when it comes to the women in my life. Often, an ear or shoulder is what is needed. I get that and still dig my knee jerk analysis of situations and desire to “cut to the bone” of the matter and decide on a course of action.
What do you believe might be the future of masculinity?
A re-definition beyond what our fathers have passed on to us.
Follow Mo and Urban Erotika on Twitter. You can also hear us talk about the intersection of somatics, sex-positivity, and activism at the upcoming Catalyst Conference this May.