“Cross your legs. Be modest. You are a lady.” The way a woman moves in the society is a possible risk to the way her body injures itself. As a physical therapist and now as a movement scientist, I always wondered why women were more prone to certain injuries. 

It’s as if our bodies remind us that we aren’t designed for more aggressive pursuits such as contact sports. 

Granted, the female biology does not readily adjust to contact sports and its heavy demands but that is not the only reason why women are more prone to injuries. There is a glaring disparity in the way a female perceives her body and her movements when compared to others. She is always wondering if she is moving gracefully, if she looks alright while she moves. 

Besides being conscious of the way we look, another factor that influences women and the way we move is safety. Keeping legs crossed while sitting, rubbing knees against one another while going down the stairs, sitting and standing up awkwardly without seeming provocative, bending without jutting out hips or chest. 

These are just some examples of routine activities that women accomplish a lot differently than others. All this just not to seem too sexual. 

Even though, Reese Witherspoon taught us to “bend and snap” it’s one legally blonde woman against an army of bizarre indoctrinations.

From the lens of a movement therapist and now a researcher, I have realized that these activities are a recipe for: more injuries, more time off from work and more time off from sports. It’s as if we are stuck in a rut that just doesn’t allow us to step out of our comfort zones.

What’s worth a thought is if these limitations are self construed or are truly a societal expectation? Did a group of men one day just come up with the idea of how women must sit, walk and move? Though this question cannot be more rhetorical, let me answer that for you: No!

These expectations did not sprout all of a sudden. They slowly trickled and made their way into our minds, our parents’ minds, our grandparents’ minds. The way this was achieved was through television, magazines, children’s books etc. 

Pink and blue are just colors until you print a blue “It’s a boy” card. 

Women shouldn’t have to shop for pants with deep pockets from the men’s section. 

We have to realize that it’s us who’ve created these deeply ingrained stereotypes. 

And no amount of shattering of glass ceiling is going to be enough until the mainstream narrative of societal roles changes. Shards of the broken glass ceiling surely help puncture the misconceptions. The question is how many more such ceilings do women have to keep shattering?

Isn’t there a way where everyone can be under the same ceiling, coming out of their boxes and stripping off the labels on those boxes? 

Our existence is an experience that we have in this lifetime. All we are, are this experience. Not the skirts we wear, not the legs we cross.

 

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