The Little Ways That Men Dominate Public Spaces Are A Big Deal

They’re part of a continuum of behaviour that controls women’s bodies

Jae L
8 min readMar 21, 2021
Photo by Sorin Sîrbu on Unsplash

There’s the man on the train talking at a brain-addlingly loud volume on his mobile phone and the one who reaches in front of me to grab the hand rail. Then there’s the man with his legs stretched out in front of him blocking my path in an airport waiting area. My experience tells me he probably went on to claim the armrest on the plane; the spread of his legs spilling into the space of the passenger next to him.

The way men occupy public space is so pervasive that it can feel like an assault on the senses: the man at the gym repeatedly dropping weights on the floor with a force that makes the women collectively look up and grimace; another man on transit from the gym spraying throat-constricting deodorant as he approaches the supermarket at the same time as me. Sometimes it’s downright disgusting. You can read about my encounter with a man who spat in a public swimming pool here.

At times there’s a menacing intent to this controlling of the space: the men who speed up as they see you step on to the pedestrian crossing, who tailgate you for miles because you’re interfering with their right to speed, finally overtaking you and signalling their indignation with a rude hand…

--

--

Jae L

Queer, neurodivergent and in the business of defying expectations. Doing my best to answer the questions I keep asking myself. diverge999@gmail.com