Interpreting what some men do without thinking and how it impacts your life.
Columnist Monica Hess of the Washington Post noticed that when navigating a crowded street she was sometimes knocked aside by someone hurrying in the opposite direction. She also noticed that usually there was no apology and that usually the perp was a well dress man between 30 and 40. And so, at the urging of her editor, who was amazed by her story, she wrote a piece based on a small experiment: for a week she would track what happened if she didn’t step aside as she usually did as she walked down a crowded city street. For a week, she “walked like a man.”
She found that women would automatically step aside as she swept through, but that men, occasionally, would collide with her. Their reactions ranged from annoyance to surprise. Apparently they were not used to having to be aware of their surroundings – that their path was always clear.
As usual, we note that not all men are like this, in fact most aren’t. But because of our interest in empowering women in a working world where men dominate, we’d like to explore this strange phenomenon further. Surely it impacts our self-worth, our sense of gender equality, our understanding of our place in the world. It seems that many of us women have a built in auto-deference button. Whether we’ve done something purposefully, accidentally, or even, not at all, we are ready, without thinking, to apologize.
There are many other variations on this theme. For instance, have you ever kept small so as not to interfere, impinge or take up more space than you feel you should or deserve? Automatically given up the arm rest in an airplane, just because? Sat at the edge or the back of a meeting, because, why? And, of course, the automatic “sorry” when you bump into someone.
So is it useful to be more like a man? To be more assertive, yes, that can be helpful in job advancement. To be more of a risk taker? Yes, that can lead to greater self confidence and a feeling of self worth. But in these troubling times, it is not helpful to be oblivious to the existence and worth of others. Though this rude and selfish behavior times a thousand erodes my resilience and my humor, adopting it does not make the world a better place. So possibly this is rant with no solution, except to say, “noted and rejected”.
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