For Love Your Body Day: The Day I Found My Ass

I originally wrote this for Laurie Toby Edison’s amazing book Familiar Men, which you can purchase here. I’ve edited it a bit to reflect how things have shifted for me since then.

This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival.

I hated my body when I was a kid. Physically much smaller than my classmates, I resented it for not being as big or fast or strong, for not being able to throw a baseball as far, or run as fast as the other boys I knew. It’s not surprising that my reaction to stress was to not eat – I wanted my body to go away.

A bodyworker I knew, who eventually became my partner, once pointed out to me how many people, men and women, walked without moving their hips. I started noticing it everywhere I went. I began to notice it in my own body and tried to pay attention to it, to listen to the messages it was sending when I walked like the Tin Woodman after it rained, but something blocked me from being able to do it.

I remember when it changed. A friend and I were watching a man dance. He was graceful and very sexy and she exclaimed, “Wow! He knows where his ass is!” I asked what she meant and was amazed when she explained that in order to be a good dancer, you need to be able to move your hips and your ass, that you need to be present in that part of your body. I realized something important in that moment. It wasn’t just my hips that I’d been trying to keep still – it was my ass.

As far back as I can remember, I’d always known that Real Men don’t really have asses. They walk all seized up, or run the risk of being accused of being a wimp or a faggot. It made my back hurt and it made my soul hurt, just so I could try to be a Real Man. Real Men have strong arms and chests and maybe even legs, but they don’t have bodies. After all, you can’t have a body if you don’t have an ass.

I began to explore new ways to move. The roadblocks I had to get past were amazingly deep and subtle. Most of the people around me seem to assume that a fluidly-moving body, especially with hips and an ass that actually flexed, was a sexual invitation, whether it belong to a man or a woman. And as I learned how to move my ass, I discovered new ways to move the rest of my body. After all, it’s all connected and if one part is locked up, it’ll affect everything else.

Eventually, I found my ass. Through martial arts, dance, bodywork and lots of yoga, I learned to listen to my body, to appreciate it for what it is and how it works. I discovered new ways to move and I found new ways to live fully in my body. I stopped hating myself for not being a Real Man and began to love myself as a male human being, the day I found my ass.

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3 Responses so far.

  1. Nick says:

    This is so funny to hear! I had never danced well because I always properly locked my hips the way a Real Man™ should. So when my friends and I went dancing they were always saying, “This! Move these! Like this!” They would grab my hip pockets and push and pull, and you could almost hear the grinding of rusty gears.

    The weirdest thing of all: better sex fixed my hips, which in turn fixed my dancing. Go figure.

    There’s a cultural side to this, too; the black and Hispanic men I know don’t have the expectation of rigidity that the whites I know have, and so tend to dance better. (There’s probably some complicated racial analogy to the White Man’s Burden that I’m too tired to make right now, but I should think that through.)

    P.S.: Awesome blog. You are the king of my RSS feed.

  2. Charlie says:

    @Nick You’re right that there are racial and cultural differences that affect this. Although I note that it’s also common in both Black and Hispanic communities for men to retain masculine status even if they have sex with other men, as long as they top. It’s the bottom who loses that status for “acting like a woman.” Similarly, in many north African cultures, men can hold hands while walking down the street because there’s no assumption that they might be sexual partners, while that would be interpreted very differently in the US. The definitions and expectations vary quite a lot, although in all of those settings, there are other ways in which “real men” are supposed to act.

    Also, thanks! 🙂

  3. Ki says:

    Another great way to find your ass is anal massage.

    I’m not talking garden variety ass play where you just ram a toy or finger in and out but another kind of experience where you truly explore the inner realms of your anus and pelvis with slow movements and subtle attention.

    It can be a transformative experience that unlocks deep core tension and all the associated “tight ass” beliefs.

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