In my near two decades as an adult woman, I have suffered many
fools irritations. You know. Run of the mill stuff: catcalls, wolf whistles, random grabs, assaults on my intelligence, backwards compliments, non-subtle demands that I be always pleasing in my countenance and manner. Hey, why don’t you smiiiiile?
These experiences, not unique to me, can be draining. They repress my goodwill, shake my faith in men, and erode my desire for humanity to continue past my brief time here. Sometimes, I’d prefer to dig a giant hole and just dump
men everyone in.
Enter the Internet. Suffering silently alone has evolved into suffering loudly together, publicly. Hyper publicly. Enter fresh, new terms. I’m not super-hip, so I know only a few: mansplaining, man spreading . . .
Pausing there for a moment. I once saw a woman on the T get into a battle of wills with a man over the spread of his legs, blocking the seats to either side of him. Impressed at her unrepentant boldness, I was used to being squished between the tree-trunk outer thighs of dudes not so large as to need that much space. My experience of calling men on their . . . stuff has never been great, so I devised, over time, an understated but effective method: silently using my leg to intimidate their leg. Turns out, legs have their own language; plus New Englanders don’t like to touch.
So, tonight. Yep. On the Orange Line and the dude next to me was really, really into his smartphone. Sizing him up, I felt fairly certain that my leg could nudge his out of my floor space. Our knees leaned lightly together. Heat traveled noticeably from his person to my person and suddenly I was all awww, thanks, guy! A bitter night got less cold, literally, while Mr. Space Heater stayed glued to his device. Did not notice. Unwittingly provided a service for 3/4 of my ride home.
Fine. A boon. Justthisonce! Tomorrow, I’m back to annoyed.