My entire life I have been taught to move out of the way for men. Whether it be in the school hallway during middle school through high school, on the sidewalk, in stores, or on the train, I have always known that men have the right of way and women are expected to move to the side. I don’t remember when I learned such a thing, but it has stayed implanted in my mind since that day that I subconsciously slide over as soon as a man approaches me.
When I see men on public transport, they tend to take up roughly two spaces because of their legs being spread out so far. Even if it is “more comfortable” it is taking dominance over seats on the train or bus and prohibiting others from sitting down and this is just one example of the countless acts that men do every day to literally take up more space.
No matter when or where, men seem to make sure their dominance is well perceived. This is more widely known as “mansplaining” or “manspreading” and both are equally as problematic.
Manspreading is exactly as it sounds. Men are taught from a young age that they are entitled to the space that is around them. They take up more space on the sidewalks, spread their legs out on public transportation and even generally are granted more space around them at concerts and social events. They know that they get more space around them and they take advantage of it. Just the other day while walking to the residence halls, I was approached by three men on the sidewalk walking in a pack, and instead of sharing the sidewalk with me and adjusting their formation, I was pushed onto the grass and walked around them. They didn’t even seem phased by the act, but as I walked closer to my living space, I wondered just how many times a day I walk around men to avoid confrontation.
Not only do men tend to take more physical space, they take over intellectual, political, social, professional and intimate spaces. Everything seems to be controlled by the male.
The act of mansplaining is defined as when a man explains without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer on that particular regard.
This comes into play often when men and women go head to head in professional, intellectual and social situations. It is often that I find men trying to explain the act of driving a vehicle to me or my female friends. Toxic masculinity takes over as they explain the manly act of driving a car, when we all took the same type of drivers training course and it is not that difficult to put a car in drive and park it. It also comes into play when talking about feminism and women’s bodies and basically everything, especially when men are told they are wrong.
The man tends to talk louder just by nature and when having a debate about something serious like abortion or equal rights for women, if a man raises his voice, the woman will tend to let him speak. It is nature that they are “allowed” to speak first, even when they know less about the particular issue.
The most common as we know is the way that men feel entitled to women’s bodies. The toxic male root that is planted in all boys takes place most often when it comes to the female body. I cannot even begin to count the amount of times I have felt uncomfortable by men just from their staring. Most days, even here at Knox, I am greeted by the eyes of men looking at my whole body (except my eyes, of course). This idea gets even worse as the weather gets warmer and in social situations like parties. I have had several occurrences where I am dancing with friends and men have somehow attached themselves onto me without approaching me with a formal greeting, just their body. Nothing will beat the sexual misconduct that is shared with woman by men each day.
Men take up so much space, whether it is physical, mental or emotional space. Females can check men all day about the amount of space they take up on a bus, but it will not make a difference until the men start taking initiative to change. Toxic masculinity is a sickness that has poisoned each and every boy on this earth. Male entitlement is not about the individual man that females call out on the bus, it is about the systematic gender violence and control that presents itself through the daily entitlement of men. I’m sick of this sickness and even though I will continue to call out men for their actions, they need to start doing it themselves.