In the process of my Feldenkrais training, I have re-learned how to walk. Or rather, I am continually re-examining how to walk. I notice that my first impulse when it comes to walking involves as little movement as possible. I’ve been inclined to step from my ankles and keep my pelvis as still as possible. Whenever I notice my tendency or desire to do this, I start to wonder why.
What I’ve discovered is a sense of self-consciousness about the swing that happens when walking and I think I have uncovered where that particular pattern started. I remember noticing, as a super sensitive young person, that people made fun of women who moved this-a-way and that-a-way. I saw that when boys made fun of girls, which they did all the time, they did this hip swaying movement. I didn’t understand about sexuality, really – but I sensed a certain objectification happening and I wanted no part of it. So I stopped any movement that could make me a target of this teasing sexual objectification. And that pattern continued until I dove into the Feldenkrais training and discovered how much more ease there was in a moving body, how much more potentiality there is in a body that is not held still in some way.
But the old story is still in there to a degree, I feel a sense of danger when I let my tailbone move from one side to the other, when I let my weight shift, left, right. I feel like a target in some way, as if a hip sway says, “Look here.” For some women, that sense of “look here” is empowering. They cultivate that sway, that movement and even exaggerate it. In many ways that is a very sensible strategy. In a culture that values women principally as sexual objects, embracing one’s sexual power makes a great deal of sense. For some women it is the only power they will ever feel themselves to have.
But if you’ve spent your life resisting being objectified, if you struggle to be seen as something other than a sexual object, you might find yourself making a lot of adjustments to direct people’s attention elsewhere.
Each extreme will take a toll. Limiting one’s movement will eventually limit one’s mobility and exaggerating one’s movement will eventually push one’s mobility out of a range of ease.
For me, I am learning to be comfortable with a walk that might draw attention (if only in my mind) and learning how to be okay with the entire range of experience.
by Emily Davis, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner