Women are not men. On the surface this seems obvious. But I’m not referring here to the visual facts of our differing reproductive systems. Nor do I intend to feed the fetish surrounding our breasts and buttocks, those secondary sex characteristics that are filmed, photographed and displayed with undying devotion towards women as long as said women are under the age of 40 and fit into a size 4.
The physical differences that I refer to here are the unique shape of women’s bones and structure of our joints: the elbow, the knee, the gentle curve of the low back, the narrow-heeled contours of the bony foot. These body areas represent actual structural differences between the sexes and define the form of the female body itself. There is an almost universal lack of awareness about female/male structural differences and how these differences affect human health and movement.
Everything from athletic shoes to office chairs are designed to support the male physique and simply made in a smaller version for women. Even Yoga pose instruction is based upon male anatomy and many poses are not female form friendly. Among the ways that women pay for this lack of universal awareness is with a mysterious knee injury, long-term sacroiliac joint pain and shoulder dysfunction that fails to heal no matter how well we care for our self. Not only do we pay for not being men by suffering physical pain, we also pay with the belief that many of these injuries are the price of aging and not the price paid for by a lifetime of wearing athletic shoes, sitting in office chairs and practicing yoga poses designed to serve the male body.
Let me be clear: we are not suffering as a result of some nefarious evil plot against women. No. We are suffering, as yoga philosophy maintains, because of misunderstanding about the reality. Women are not men.