Just the other day, Jerry tells me “oh tonight Grayson will be joining one of my men’s group, he’s working on a book about masculinity.
“… Grayson… Grayson Perry?”
I discovered Grayson Perry’s work about 5 years ago at the… British museum (similar to the Louvre in France). I was fascinated by his ceramic work as a contemporary artist, blended with his intelligence, his huge celebrity and popularity in the UK, notably because of his life as a transvestite (he’s straight). I devoured his book Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl. Yes my questions about the subject aren’t from last September… and no one comparable in France comes to mind.
So you can imagine my surprise when Jerry announced that they were long time buddies and that they were both working on the subject of masculinity! Hence, last year Grayson Perry has directed a series of documentaries for Channel4, ALL MaN, about contemporary masculinity. He has also just written a book also, The Descent of Man. for its launch, we have been invited to his performance, the Tipical Man in a Dress. the audience was then invited to send their own definition of masculinity by twitter through the # masculinityis (go and see!).
When we arrived to the workshop that morning with Jerry, Grayson had just refused an interview for the Observer with… Michael Jordan, I had on my end some sort of a star struck moment, you know when you are admiring someone to the point of paralysis, to have forgotten the human, the simplicity of the exchange.
Therefore I want to infinitely thanks Grayson for the precious time he allowed me to have and I will do a separate post about the reading of his book (which I recommend warmly).
This is what I will take away from my meeting with Grayson.
1. Feelings aren’t just women’s business
Dear men, how many conversation do I have with you about your feelings, like you need a women to be able to talk about it, many of you talk about modesty but in reality isn’t it a cultural inability to let go? Go wherever you feel like, including with your feelings.
2. What matters is the relationship and not to be right
As soon as I argue with someone, my brother, to whom I justify systematically the reason behind my anger, ends up by telling me “it doesn’t matter whether you are right, alone in your corner, the importance is to get along together.” Human relations are for me the most complex thing in the world. At the same time it is the field that motivates the most of my daily choices. And I love that Grayson is able to talk about it in such way: a self-portrait with a great wall and towers? Yes! And at the same time, what you find on the other side a whole dynamic mapping, setting him up in a relationship with others: I like this enormously.
3. It’s crucial to learn about vulnerability…
The importance is not to appear perfect in your choices and actions; the importance is to be ok with showing who you are. And there is no shame, a man in a dress will confirm it: there is no shame in being vulnerable, just “chillax!”
And dear dads who haven’t had the possibility to develop this vulnerability, dear mothers who unconsciously want your little boy to be strong and to not cry, revise yourself and offer this to your child: the possibility to be vulnerable.
Grayson is living proof that force and vulnerability aren’t contradictory. I would even say that they pair together: you need a lot of courage to commit to this vulnerability, in one hand because it’s tough, it requires to take risks, and in the other because it’s THE forbidden territory for men. You need to be ballsy to go there!
4. … And to be in the present
Lots of friends tell me “it’s complicated now, you must be vulnerable, but at the same time strong… pfff, how do we do this?! I tell them “bah woman are able to do it, work a little bit on it and you will manage to get there… cheer up. But I prefer Grayson’s answer: be true with the moment, no planning, no deadline, be real with what the moment requires. And what it requires is mostly to listen, some flexibility, some fluidity, this is not performance.
And we all need that don’t we?
5. Changes are slow
It shocked me so much and… calmed me. With the recent events, we heard a lot of “it’s 2016 and we are still at this stage?!” Actually the more I move forward the more I tell myself that the equality desire (notably between men and women but not only), is a very new desire in the evolution of humanity. It was only yesterday, the declaration of men’s right, women’s right to vote. We are at… the very beginning of it my dears. There is some progress: less excisions, less illiteracy for young girls, etc.… we are even allowed to talk about vulnerability! But no equality or right is a given, we must fight for it, so pull up your sleeves, we must work, and not necessarily just for right now but for a long time.
Drip, drip, drip… it’s a drip system.
That’s it, thank you. Huge thanks to Grayson and Jerry, this was my new OUT OF THE BOX and I hope you liked it. Whether you are a man or a woman, I hope that it will nourish and be alongside your thoughts, your discussions with those close to you or even here with your path and your relationships.
Love to all!
ps : “Tipical Man in a Dress” is the name of the Show Grayson is doing while presenting his latest book “The Descent of Man”