Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gender Wednesday: Walk Like a Man

Did you ever read the book Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent?  It's about a woman who goes "undercover" as a man for a year or so in order to see what it's like to live as male - and to see how men behave when they think there aren't women around.  It's interesting as hell and I'll probably talk about it more at some point.

Anyhoo, one part of the book that really grabbed my attention was when Norah described how movement affects gender presentation.  She said that sometimes, during her "undercover" stint, she would pop to the corner store to get milk or something and she wouldn't bother to dress like a dude - but out of habit she would still be using her acquired dude mannerisms.  And because of this, despite the fact that she was wearing a tight white tank top and had obvious boobs, people read her as male.

So, it would seem that when people are assessing which sex you might be, they'll note how you act and move as much as, or even more than, what you actually look like.  This idea intrigued the hell out of me and I immediately started working on a "boy walk" to use if I were ever walking home late at night and felt a bit vulnerable (and of course it would also be helpful for my handful of crossdressing experiments).

Trial, error, and second opinions from friends taught me that a "boy walk" meant keeping my legs in a bowlegged stance that felt completely alien and ridiculous (but actually did look normal when I put on my baggy dude-jeans and practiced in front of the mirror).  Also, I needed to swing my arms a lot less than usual; I would kind of swing my shoulders instead.

Conversely, then, we can infer that a chick-walk means keeping your knees together, penduluming your arms, and trying not to let your shoulders move too much.

But don't take my word for it!  I recently found this video that tracks how a man and a woman walk by using motion sensors on all their joints (ignore this "walking away/walking toward you" caption crap; it's irrelevant).  It's really cool how they isolated the movements themselves without showing you the people doing the moving; it really lets you compare the two walks better.  Please also note that in addition to the stuff I said above, it seems that guys hold their elbows out from the body while women's elbows face inward.

...And here, just for fun, is a video I found where a cute boy teaches us how to walk like a male vs. a female runway model.  If we assume that a model moves like an exaggerated version of a normal person, this could be a useful guide for anyone wanting to crossdress or transition (you'd just need to tone it down as necessary); but to me it seems like the "male model walk" is almost completely average and unobtrusive while the "female model walk" is a ridiculous wiggly strut that you'd never see anywhere else.

But hey, on the upside, slender Asian boy in a bra. :)

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