Or rather, I’m a native, which means developers and city planners work diligently to make my home an alien hostile environment to those of us who come from here and love it.
So the first arrests for “manspreading” in NYC are both Latino, according to this. And yeah, that IS relevant to me since I think this whole thing is Broken Windows disguised with some “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” panties. I never had a problem asking someone on a full train to make room for me, or more particularly, Eric. Often people will offer him a seat without us asking. Sometimes the person next to him, after seeing I’ve guarded the last available seat on the train for him will offer me a seat too.
When this issue has come up online, some of women have said “Well that’s you, other women are afraid of what men will do if they ask them to make room.” I can understand that, some people may feel this way. I’m not defending the idea of someone being rude and taking up extra seats when the subway is full. I’m more curious that there are people frightened to ask for room to be made. I’ve talked about it to other NYC women who’ve said they felt like I do. So this leaves me to wonder if this is less of a male-vs.-female thing and more of a native-vs.-transplant thing. It’s also somewhat symbolic to me of an increasing alienation I’ve felt within “feminism” lately, at least online. In real life people I know who identify as feminist/womanist live their lives and get things done, as with the latest Yeah That’s What She Said art show. Online, they wring their hands over everything being “problematic”…well, maybe not everything. Mostly pop cultural trends and words and such. The importance of not discounting the experiences of those who feel fragile and frightened is emphasized, and that’s fine. That should be acknowledged. But the same doesn’t seem to be extended any more for those of us who feel other ways, who will ask a space hog to make room because it’s reasonable and are ready to handle it if they don’t want to be. Who keep doing whatever the fuck they want even if someone called them a bitch or a cunt or even (gasp) “bossy”. Resilience was once admired or aspired to, these days it can make you some enemies, and not the kinds of enemies it’s made me before. The rapist, the stalker, the lapdance client projecting his issues — at least you knew they wanted to see you broken. Feminism though, was formed to lift us up. To encourage us to be strong.
If I wasn’t resilient, I can think of a number of times I’d be dead by now.
Despite these complaints I still will identify as feminist. Because I believe in that kind of equality, and because I’ll be damned if those “problematic” people are gonna take it from me without a fight. But yeah, I do have to admit there’s a whole faction of it that’s alien to me. Maybe that’s the point. Just like this “manspread” thing seems to have been legislated a la “broken windows” to target anyone unseemly in rich-suburban-transplant New York. There seems to be this sense of women being put at odds with the rest of the human race.
And also, at the end of it all I just think the word “manspread” is funny.