Men dominate public places. This is fact that many men would refute but most women accept. I saw a great comic this morning that explained it and, in one of those lovely coincidences that almost makes you believe in fate, I encountered a great example. The swimming pool.
I am a great swimmer. I don’t say this to brag, I’m no olympiad. I wanted to be but disabilities and laziness got in the way of that dream. But even with dodgy legs and a brain trying to escape the skills I spent years honing remain and means that in the average local swimming pool anyone with any training will be faster than most people. I actually don’t like being the fastest, it tends to attract attention and competitive arseholes and snide comments when I get out and people see me walk with a stick. But I can no more make myself go slower than anyone else can make themselves go faster.
Now, the problem I encounter during lane sessions is that I have to overtake people. I hate overtaking people. I feel like I’m somehow embarrassing them, I worry I’ll accidentally kick them and I feel bad for taking up extra space. Luckily, there is a well established lane etiquette most people follow. If you approach the wall and someone is right behind you then you stop and let them go. It’s simple. It’s common fucking courtesy. But men, as a rule, don’t do it. They just go on. They don’t give a shit if you’re literally on top of them or if you will not even be able to set off behind then because you would crash straight up their arse. Women stop and let you go, usually with a smile or a happy ‘you go, love’. But the men don’t.
Why? Well because they’re used to taking up space. Space is theirs to do what they want with. They’ve never had to feel threatened for daring to take up space. Especially sporty places. Men are taller, stronger, faster. Should we women be behind them? Isn’t that where they belong? The amount of times a man tries to race me and I win and his mates laugh because he got beaten by a girl. They don’t know I’m disabled when I’m the pool, it’s the only place I’m not, that’s why I go. But being beaten by a fat chick is the worst these men can imagine. When I have to overtake a woman or pass them at the wall they are apologetic. They feel they’re taking too much space. They squeeze into the wall or the lane rope and smile with embarrassment. Men try to out swim me or block me.
If you are a man who has ever heard a feminist complain about men dominating public places then I advise you go to the pool. Before you get in watch for a bit. Watch the difference between the men and women. You’ll get it. Assuming you’re not one of those men.
Oh, and if your reaction to this is to cry ‘not all men!’ then a) yes I know that, i never said all and b) if you’re getting defensive, chances are you are one of those men.