Dixie Gillaspie’s advice to dudes on how to stop using stupid, caveman approaches and get what you really want.
According to my father I was also slow. He wanted a strapping boy who strode through the world the way he did, with purpose and determination. What he got was a hippy girl who ambled along petting stray dogs and investigating interesting rocks and plants.
To please him I learned to walk with purpose and determination. I learned to stride alongside him, swinging my arms and yes, my hippy hips.
“Keeping up with Dad” became a new game. This turned out to be a blast. If I really focused dead ahead, pushed one foot in front of the other as far as it would reach and as fast as it would go, I could almost win!
And it was fun. I felt strong and alert. Fully in the material world and ready to put my stamp upon it. I felt grown up, even though I was not yet a teen.
I was a little stung when I overheard my grandmother demanding of my mother, “When are you going to teach that girl to walk like a lady?” But I thought she was objecting to my trying to walk like a man, and I let it go.
It was harder to ignore the taunts of the 6th grade boys who hissed, “I wish I had a swing like that in my backyard.” Or, “Can I get a burger to go with that shake?”
It wasn’t until Junior High that I found out why my swinging hips attracted such attention. A friend put it to me bluntly, but kindly; “It’s sexy, the way you swing your hips, but it’s not cool.”
I wasn’t terribly concerned about being cool. But I had had it deeply ingrained in me that trying to be sexy was evil. Girls who tried to be sexy “got what they deserved.”
I taught myself to walk all over again. Still fast, because I didn’t want to lose at my “Keeping up with Dad” game, but stiff hipped with shorter steps. I felt like a Geisha trying to outrun a tiger. Walking no longer made me feel powerful and connected, but the teasing stopped.
More than thirty years later, working through years of knee pain, fibromyalgia and finally, a locked hip flexor muscle that refused to respond to the commands of my brain, I had to learn to walk yet again.
Working with a trainer I discovered what my “non-sexy” walk had been doing to my body. He showed me, clinically, how healthy and natural my “hippy” walk really is.
Gradually I got back to feeling powerful and alive when I walked. I felt confident, comfortable in my hippy, happy body.
Until the day I walked into the gym to take a class.
I was almost to the Group Exercise classroom door when he stepped from behind a treadmill.
And said, “You have a very sexy walk. Very, very, sexy.”
Shame and fear chased the blood from my face and back into it in an instant. While I stood frozen he walked past me, leering.
I marched, stiff hipped and tense, Geisha-chased-by a-tiger style, into the classroom, pulled down a big exercise ball, sat down on it and tried to look like I was ready for class instead of ready to bawl.
It could have been a setback.
Instead it was an opportunity for new understanding. Because the next student into the classroom was a girl I’d struck up a bit of a friendship with. She asked what had happened, and for a bit we commiserated about how pathetic, lame, even criminal men were.
But it reminded me of the first time I’d seen her in class. How she exuded that kind of fire and intellect that makes me want to get to know someone. And how awkward it was, even with no sexual implications in play, to just say, “Hi, I think I’d like to be friends.”
We got over it, finding excuses to chat after class, and our last conversation, about her upcoming thesis, went on for nearly an hour. But it wasn’t easy to bridge that gap between random stranger and comfortable conversation.
I went through the rest of that day pondering the complexity of that first “Hello.”
I remembered how grade school boys teased the girls they liked, just to get attention.
I remembered a business colleague who, when I asked him to STOP complimenting my appearance (especially my breasts) responded with surprise and hurt that he only wanted me to know how much he admired and respected me and he thought that was the kind of compliments women liked.
And I began to wonder if all, or at least some, of those boys and men who have insulted us, been rejected and reviled by us, been called lewd and perverts by us, and ultimately been emasculated by us, were really just little boys trying to get our attention.
Maybe those were smiles, not leers. Maybe those were compliments, not come-ons. Maybe those were just the only conversation openers that seemed manly when confronted with the desire to start a conversation.
Maybe, even though it sounds like you’re trying to say, “I’d like to get to have sex with you,” you’re really trying to say, “I’d like to get to know you.”
Maybe what you’re responding to isn’t really the swinging hips, but the joy in my stride.
I hope that’s true at least part of the time.
Because my swing has nothing to do with watching Soul Train (I didn’t.) It has everything to do with MY soul, the real lightning-of-the-universe stuff that everyone has and no one can define.
And if that’s what you’re attracted to, say so.
Tell me my spirit is showing in my smile.
Tell me my soul is turning you on.
Tell me I’m the most beautiful energy form you’ve seen in many lifetimes.
Well, don’t tell ME. I’m taken.
But tell her. Tell the next brilliant blast of light in a female body you encounter; “I like the way you shine!”
And mean it!
She may not dare to believe you. She may even laugh out loud (but if you’re laughing too she can’t be laughing at you, now can she?)
But she won’t forget you. And she won’t go into an exercise class feeling insulted and angry and small.
And maybe, just maybe, she’ll stop and turn the full wattage of that soul stuff on you, and say, “You’re pretty bright your own self.”
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Photo Credit: FlickrCommons/Erin Kelly