Moving out of the way of commuters


Robyn D shared this article by Charlotte Riley in the New Statesman:

[I]f you are a woman, you find yourself constantly dodging. Side-stepping men who are walking in your direction; being wiped out by a wheely suitcase dragged by a be-suited man; moving to the side to let faster men move past you; or just pausing to let men bustle in front of you onto the train, or into the lift, or onto the escalator, and on with their busy lives, to their important jobs.

This sounds thoroughly aggravating and easily believable, because also it happens to me. Constantly. I think it’s a power play: women, and perhaps meeker or more effeminate gentleman such as myself, are perceived as submissive or less important, so we’re ripe for trampling on.

Clara and I started laughing and pointing it out to each other when it happens while we’re walking together. There is the occasional woman who demands we clear the way for her large bags of designer fashion, but it’s generally guys.

One thing I have going for me that perhaps fewer women have is my height. I can peer ahead and spot snowplowers before they reach me so I can preemptively avoid. But why should it always be us, rather than both parties acknowledging each other and having simple courtesy?

Charlotte reminds us of the best coping mechanism:

But in my opinion, the best way to play the game is cheerfully. Smile! Make eye contact! But never, ever give way.

As my mum used to say, nasty people can’t stand kindness, because they don’t know how to handle it.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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