Thursday, 19 July 2018

Walk like a Man

"Walk like a Man

This morning, walking to the gym, my left arthritic hip was feeling sore, I was limping along, and trying to balance out my walking. I had seen these two men pass me by, and one in particular was taking up a lot of room in his walking. I began to imitate his walking throwing my shoulders around, using my whole body as we are taught in Feldenkrais, letting all your body respond to your movement as it did when you were a baby. It felt very freeing, and strangely my hip was less sore. 

This ties in with my feeling recently that those qualities which we think of as masculine or feminine come more from our culture and tradition, and are not determined by our biology. Using my whole body I became aware how I usually try to take up as little space as possible. I was taking big strides and flailing my arms. It felt almost aggressive. As a woman when we sit, it's not usually with our legs apart like a man, it's usually with legs crossed, contracting the space we use. I don't think that was ever taught, but it was implied. Of course I am from an older generation. It is changing somewhat, we had no choice in tight skirts and high heels, but kids now can choose big boots and jeans.

All this is also connected I feel with the fact that it is my left hip which is stiff and painful, the left side being more traditionally associated with the feminine, creative, vulnerable, emotional side. I was brought up in that tradition and only recently in the last 5 years -and I'm almost 80 - have I begun to question it. My right hip is fine. The constrictions of growing up as a female in the 40s and 50s have left their mark and I have to think myself into walking like a man in order to throw off those inhibitions. 

Of course I am making the same assumptions as I criticised above, in thinking there is a man's way of walking and a woman's way of walking. There is no such clear distinction. We are in transition from these binary divisions, and something is transitioning inside me too, allowing me to become aware of the ways that thinking of myself as female has constricted me, and encouraging me to claim the space that I imagine men taking. These categories are not so easily discarded. 

So if you see me charging down Main St in Hebden Bridge, taking great strides and flailing my arms, you'll know I'm just discovering me!"

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