Saturday, December 27, 2008
There is an interesting community post at Feministing called "Own Your Space!" about how men and women utilize public space. It is especially interesting to read after taking a ride on the train with several men I work with the other week. I'm tiny, and the man I ended up seated next to was tall. I tried valiantly to defend my little parcel of space allotted to me by Metro-North; but my colleague kept slamming his right knee against my left one. I acquiesced a little of my space, and his knee was still pressed up against my leg. By the end of the ride, I was pushed as close to the wall as physics would allow, and my legs were taking up about a quarter of my leg room. The rest was being occupied by my sprawling seatmate. It was more than a little uncomfortable for me. The same sort of thing happens when I walk down the street. I sometimes get plowed right into, and knocked off balance. And though I would love to follow Rachel in WY's example and call to arms to own my space, it is easier and faster (and less bruising) in most cases simply to slide through the crowds by changing the way I'm walking or the path I'm following than to fight that battle. Not very feminist of me, I suppose. I should work on changing that; I should push back against someone's leg when it is encroaching on what little space I have for myself. I should not shift and minimize my own presence on the sidewalk. And maybe I shouldn't be so willing to shove myself into the corner of the elevator when several guys get on and take up about two feet more than they need to. But, I probably won't. It is, however, an interesting fact that women are generally expected to alter their course if they are crossing paths with a man. I find it somewhat illuminating that gender inequality comes across even in something as seemingly random and innocuous in who pauses for whom in a hallway or on a sidewalk.