Walking Like a Man – Social Choreography
Societies thrive when everything works smoothly – when confusion or mistakes are minimized – when everyone knows what to do to preserve and protect the culture. Who goes first? Who stays home? How to work together? Protocols are developed to make it clear and easy.
Often these guidelines aren’t formalized or written down. But the message is absolutely clear. As children grow up they notice – and match – the acceptable ways of moving through the world. It is easy to then assume that “this is the way the world works.” Here is how men navigate and here is how women navigate.
Group norms can change over time – but they are deeply imbedded into people’s sense of self. Letting go of early assumptions can feel uncomfortable or even risky. Does changing somehow invalidate their lives lived so far? Our mew post-Covid-19 norms will feel awkward so we will have a heightened sense of awareness of what feels appropriate or not. Perhaps this is one of those moments when our group norms make an intentional and significant shift.
At Art in Real Life I explore and try to make visible the ways cultures guide us. It is important that they do. But awareness and insight to those expectations give us all a chance to exercise individuality where/when appropriate.
Check out this Washington Post article where a woman challenged the norm of standard street choreography.