Space invaders

The writer Annie Breslaw posted this on Twitter the other day.

My sister is doing an experiment: Whenever men walk towards her, she doesn’t move out of the way first. So far she has collided with 28 men.

I came across it via the very excellent musician Laura Kidd, AKA She Makes War, who I’m a fan of. She added:

I’ve been doing this lately too – I just had enough of being barged out of the way all the time. No full on collisions so far but they really don’t want to move!!!

One of the responses was from someone else I’m a fan of, gender-blending comedian Andrew O’Neill:

@shemakeswar When I cross-dress men stop moving out of my way. Fact.

I’ve experienced the same thing. I’m still six foot one, I’m still on the heavy side, and minor reconfiguration aside I take up exactly the same amount of space as I always did. But since I’ve started being me, men no longer try to avoid bumping into me. It happens in the street, it happens in shops, it happens in bars. As a feminine-presenting person the onus is on me to get out of the Big Important Man’s way.

Something similar happens on public transport. When a man is already sitting on a bus seat or subway bench and taking up not just his own space but most of the adjacent space too, he won’t move for me if I’m presenting female: I’ll spend the journey with my arse halfway off the seat, or with somebody’s elbow in my stomach. And in the air, armrests are no longer available to me.

#notallmen, of course. But far too many of them.