Masculinity as Movement

Categories: Uncategorized.

Today, for 75 minutes, I will be a University Professor, like my partner, Bonnie (: I’m subbing for an out of town friend for the course The Psychology of Gender, facilitating a conversation about masculinity. Curious what kinds of ideas on masculinity do the students see in Capoeira Angola,  the dance of Ogum, and the stepping of my  brothers, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

We’ll look and “read” (too keep it real artsy) the following:

  • Brief excerpts of this film on Mestre Pastinha: Uma Vida Pela Capoeira
  • A bit of this video of a roda (the circle in which capoeira is played) celebrating Mestre Pastinha and featuring Trenels Dija and Gorge (Trenels means “trainers” and are steps below Contre Mestres and Mestres or Asst Masters and Masters).
  • The Western PA Omega Psi Phi All-Stars Stepping here at the 2009 Steel City Step Show (start at 2:25).
  • And the dance of Ogum   performed by Bale’ Folclorico da Bahia (3:23-4:23)

I did not include Queer masculine movement, like Voguing, or Ballroom, as I am not knowledgeable of these forms, but props. They gets down as well. See the photos below for the topics of the whole semester and shouts to Dr. Suzanne Bernard for the invitation and please forgive the look of this blog at the moment, we’re gonna get it together soon.

Update: We didn’t actually get to the Ogum dancing and ran into trouble with the Pastinha film (the University’s filters deemed it “inappropriate”?) and so had to watch a different piece. We had a little exploration of  which of these films showed what a couple students called “traditional masculinity”, which we decoded to mean white American masculinity, and students commented how the men in the videos broke those rules in some ways and agreed with those rules in others. Upon reflection, I  would not even say all “traditional” rules of masculinity should be called “white American” rules. Culture is more complicated than that. Left on its own, does African and African diasporic masculine movement have no part of its spectrum that includes a show of power? Volume? A distancing from stereotypes of feminine or gay male movement? Is it even useful to imagine what a “left on its own” masculinity looks like? I’m not sure that it is. How to essentialize such a broad expanse of time and space as to say this is what African masculinity would be like sans enslavement or colonialization? You can’t unring the bell of the western context  and if you could, would you have a masculinity sans patriarchy? What about Islam’s influence? Unring that and I wonder did the lack of patriarchy as expressed in the nation state leave Africa vulnerable? What is it about European masculinity that has got the world in all kinds of fixes and yet we’ve not been able to stop it collectively? Questions.

I’m here now with African legacies still alive and critiques of the dominant modes available to learn from. What reflecting needs done on my European male heritage? What concepts do I want to aspire to for myself in this context?  Surely one that is building more than breaking. Healing more than hurting. Protecting more than leaving vulnerable.


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About Justin

Justin is the managing partner of Hillombo LLC i.e. the chief cook and bottle washer and likes to write when he makes time.