It happens every time I fly. I sit down in my seat and a man sits down next to me spreading his knees and feet wide open, encroaching dramatically into the tiny space that is supposed to be all mine. To add insult to injury, this move is generally coupled with a resting of the elbows on both armrests so that top to bottom his space is his and he's commandeered half of my space as well.
I’m sure there must be some women who do it too. But I’ve never seen it happen.
It’s always the plane where I notice it, theoretically because I spend so much time on them. But apparently, it’s not a phenomenon limited to the air. It’s a problem thirty thousand feet plus below as well – on the train. It’s so ubiquitous, there’s an entire Tumblr devoted to it – Men taking to too much space on the train.
It’s annoying. Really annoying. But there are plenty of things that annoy me – 12 registers at the supermarket and only one open; people who stop in the middle of the jetbridge to talk or text or look for their sunglasses; empty tables in a restaurant when you're waiting in line for a table.
But this issue is not about being particular. This is political. This is about entitlement. This is about men and privilege and how they generally act as if the world is theirs to use and take up as they see fit.
The thing is, that leaves women clawing for scraps, when 50% of the goods, including space, is rightfully ours. I may only be 5’ tall and 100 pounds soaking wet. But that doesn’t make me entitled to any less space in the public sphere.
In some arenas, things are a little more fluid. But when it comes to public transportation, the theater, chairs at the park, it’s a one per person situation. The world doesn’t owe men extra space to get all comfy in. Public transportation is uncomfortable for most human bodies. And men taking up more space than their due, means that some people (read women) get to be extra uncomfortable.
Just for reference, I would love to spread out and take up all the room in the world too. But I don’t feel like that’s within my rights – because it isn’t. I paid for one seat. I get one seat.
When men sprawl, the message to everyone else is, “I’m more important than you and I deserve as much space as I want.” You may be feeling that way. But it isn’t true and you look like a schmuck with your knees spread or your legs stretched or your bag hogging up the whole bench.
There is nothing more distasteful than messy self-importance.
And I’m not interested in what you have between your legs. And I’ll let this Tumblr speak to the issue with its title alone: Your balls are not that big.
Hand protectively covering his balls. They must be GIANT!
The bottom line is that men want and take, while women are supposed to make way and accept. The worst worse part is men’s bad behavior leaves me feeling like my only defense is equally bad behavior.
So, I board the plane as early as I can. I plant my feet wide. I park my elbows firmly on the armrests. Sometimes I even stand my computer up on its end so that if any body part attempts to infringe, said body part will be smashed against my MacBook instead of against me.
This is all about privilege. But it’s also about awareness. Men need to be aware of how much room they are taking up and that there are others around them who deserve just as much room as they do regardless of size or gender.
This isn’t your family room. Sit up, close your legs, put your hands in your lap. Confine yourself. Women have been doing it since the dawn of time.