Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Experiencing Equality as Loss

(I’m quoting someone on this title, maybe even a blogger? Lilysea? But I couldn’t figure it out on Google.)

On the train back from London today... I had the window seat. A man, looked like a middle aged business man, took the aisle seat. He arranged his stuff, I arranged mine. I wanted to read. I wanted to use the middle armrest. I put my elbow on it, not taking up the whole width, not taking up more than a third of the whole length. Just there.

A two-hour battle ensued in which he did everything he could to dislodge me from that armrest short of actually saying something out loud. It was a truly bizarre instance of public transport passive aggression. He shifted. He put his arm on the front part. He slid his elbow back so it hit me. He squirmed around in his seat so that, more than once, he was actually leaning his whole torso against my arm. He even dropped a piece of paper once so that it hit my leg and fell under the seat in front of me.

He was not a big man. It was not a small seat. I can only assume that he was experiencing a woman asserting arm-rest equality as loss.

I could have let it go. But honestly, I’ve done enough stupid things in my life because I was worried I’d make a man feel badly. (Letting my best friend take me to the prom before I came out to him—not a good idea, for him or for me.) And I’m feeling way too cocky these days not to take up the challenge and see just how much discomfort I can cause an overprivileged dude, just by taking up my own space.


Jero said...

Good for you for keeping your arm there. I would have loved to watch him squirm.


Leo MacCool said...

yeah, that was what made it all worthwhile.

Clementine said...

Good for you! I struggle with this one myself on public transportation of any kind: I see all the women sitting small as can be with their legs crossed and arms folded, and I see all the men sitting with their legs spread and arms akimbo. Drives me nuts! If I'm sitting next to a man like your traveling companion, I try to take up even more space than I otherwise would, just for kicks. I fight for armrests and leg space as well.