‘Small acts of violence: On men in public spaces’ was published in Homer on 23 November 2016.
To describe the experience of masculinity, what it looks and feels like, I think about experiences I have had sharing public space with other men.
I am on a train during peak hour, about to take the last empty seat in a four-person seating bank. The other three seats have already been filled by men on their way home from work.
The man beside the empty seat is taking up more than the allotted space determined by the dimensions of the seat. He is ‘manspreading’, the widely documented phenomenon of men on public transport taking up absurd amounts of space by spreading their knees to obtuse angles. He does this, men do this, out of a need to feel our capacity to take up space is unconstrained (despite watery justifications from men invoking ‘biology’).
This is masculinity. In these small contests between men, imagined or otherwise, there is no possibility for a draw; you’re more or you’re less, you’re better or worse, stronger or weaker.
Read the full essay in Homer.