Thursday, June 04, 2015

Manspreading the (Privileged) Butter

The other day, I rode the E-train home from work. As everyone in New York city knows, seats are a rare commodity on the subway, and some rude asshats take up more than their share. When you've been on your feet at the shitplant all day, and people are acting like selfish brats, temperatures can rise.

So this woman was half sitting, half leaning against the rail, taking up a seat and a half, with her purse plopped on the bench next to her. I asked her politely to move over, but she didn't. She just sat there. I asked her again, in case she hadn't heard me. She held her hand out to me, palm out, and turned her face to the window. I was so angry at her dismissive rudeness, I was seething.

In that moment, something became crystal clear to me: seething doesn’t help anyone, but sitting on a girl sure is satisfying.

I waited a moment. She leisurely stretched her calves, turned away from me, and then I sat on her.

“Excuse me,” I said, using my ass to crush her thigh. Outside of a horror movie, I have never seen anyone react so quickly to get away from another human being. There was terror, then disgust, then anger. I took out my book and turned to her. “Thank you,” I said, and then smiled like Christian Bale in American Psycho. It would have been rude otherwise.

Now, I hear you cry, "Tony, what the fuck are you doing? Ok, she was being a rude, stuck up bitch, but that's sexual assault. And now you're actually bragging about it online? I'm disgusted, you sick, misogynist bastard!"

Well, normally, you'd be right. But ha ha, the joke's on you. I didn't do that at all. I made the story up.

But everything from "In that moment" to "It would have been rude otherwise." is taken word for word from this blog post. All I did was change the genders.

Now, I have to be honest, I'm not really angry at the author for doing this. No harm done, really. Nor do I think that her kicking another man for not moving over - as she crows about later in the article - really caused him any harm.

What infuriates me is how she is being praised and lauded for behavior that if a man did, even playfully, would get him arrested and rightfully labeled a sex offender. Let's make it clear. These men, although rude assholes, did not in any way physically accost, threaten, or even verbally abuse her. This cannot, in any way shape or form, be seen as self defense. The internet-wide "you go girl," response to her actions is what I find inexcusable.

Based on the arguments I've had today, it seems I "just don't get the point." Apparently, this is because I have a penis. Mea culpa. The prevailing narrative is that the men not moving over so she could sit is not simply rude and inconsiderate behavior - which I would completely support her calling them out on. In their view, although she was the instigator, by ignoring her, they are being "aggressive," which, in their book, warrants physical or sexual assault.

And yes, White Knights - any unwanted intentional sexual contact is legally sexual assault. That includes the buttocks. If I pinched a woman's butt cheeks, how would that not be considered so? If a woman does not scootch over when she's hogging up the bench, does that give me the right to rub my junk on her? If she doesn't move her purse, am I allowed to kick her? No? Then why are so many people tying themselves in knots to justify the double standard?

But... something something something... privilege!  The guy was "Manspreading" you see, a new crime in New York City. If you don't know what it means, it's when men sit in a comfortable way due to their gender. Is it rude on a crowded train? Yes. Will most men (like most women) move over when asked? Yes. Are men being arrested for it when the train is half empty? Yes.
Dude, where's the ad of the woman laying with her legs up on the seat, or her handbags next to her? The NYPD says they will give summons to women as well, but I have yet to find any reports of it. Could it be that the MTA is constantly hemorrhaging money, raising fares, cutting service, and needs someone to blame for their over-packed trains? Could it be that men are a socially accepted scapegoat? Hmm...

OK, I'm digressing here. Where was I? Oh yes, "privilege." This word means that laws should only apply to certain people, because other people are perceived as having it better than them, in some way or other. But there are all kinds of privilege. Just because women historically get a much better deal than men in divorce court, does that mean that only women should be arrested for shoplifting? Of course not. You can't arbitrarily apply concrete laws because of a conceptual opinion. Not if "equality" is truly your goal.

I'll end with this question that I'd really like a woman to answer:

One man believes that women are equal, capable of being responsible for their actions, and thus, should be held to the same standards as men. Another believes that "Male Privilege" has made women a weakened sex, and therefore, they must be protected from the consequences of their own actions. As a result, they should be held to a lesser standard.

Which one of these men is sexist?


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