Wednesday, May 08, 2013

'Throwing like a girl'.


This morning I went to pull up the bedroom blind and hesitated as I often do.  I have trouble getting the blind to retract without its flapping all the way to the top and over such that it’s hard to retrieve the cord the next time I need to pull down the blind.
            ‘Hold onto the cord,’ my husband tells me repeatedly ‘that way it won’t run away from you,’ but still I get it wrong. 

I lack coordination in such matters no matter how hard I try.  It’s a familiar feeling my distrust of any capacity when it comes to things physical.  Too clumsy and uncoordinated.  

I've been reading Iris Marion Young’s essay ‘Throwing like a girl’ which seems to connect.  She writes about the way girls tend not to use their bodes in the same free and easy way their counterpart males do. 

My brothers used to laugh at me and my sisters, the way we ran.  Running like a girl/throwing like a girl are derisory expressions used to reflect a certain discomfort women have with their bodies.  How are we taught these things?

I don’t remember anyone saying to me that I should or should not use my whole body when throwing a ball but I remember a pressure to keep my body out of the equation.  I always put it down to wanting to remain invisible from my father but lately I’ve observed that other women also feel some pressure to remain invisible even as women are also the ones most likely to be looked at, the ones who feel great pressure to put their bodies on display, especially the young women. 

‘Didn’t your mother teach you to pull up blinds,’ my husband asks half joking.
‘No,’ I say.  ‘I only remember Venetian blinds.’
‘Posh,’ is my husband’s reply. 

I have never thought of Venetian blinds as posh but I can see now they were when they first came into existence.  Before we moved into our new AV Jennings special – a triple fronted cream brick veneer on Warrigal road in Cheltenham – we too had never seen the likes of Venetian blinds, but we had no blinds ether as far as I can recall, only curtains.  So I did not get to practice the retraction of the cord. 

These blinds remind me of my body.  Out of control.  I felt it last week after I side swiped the car to which I had failed to give way. It was almost as if I was in a dream.  I pulled to one side slightly up onto the footpath and felt my foot trembling on the brake and for a moment there I feared I could not even stop the car and I saw myself rolling into several other cars that were parked in front of me in the car park.

I pulled myself together in time to stop but the sensation was one I often have in dreams where I cannot stop no matter how hard I try, though in dreams my sense more often is of getting into reverse and not being able to get myself back into a forward motion.

These things come to me now as I reflect on my clumsiness in all things physical.  My lack of physical strength relative to the boys and men in my life.  I know men are believed to be inherently stronger and often times are bigger but as Iris Marion Young suggests women tend to underplay their own strength relative to their size.  We could be stronger she implies if only we could convince ourselves it’s okay to be strong.   
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