It’s The Little Things

Part of being a member of an oppressive group and trying to step down the oppression ladder to be an ally is to be aware of your privilege. I’m not just talking about the big things like the minority of women in Congress when they make up 51% of the population or the use of sexualized violence to tittilate but also the minor things, the things that you as part of the oppressed group take for granted all the time.

I was on the subway this morning on my way to work, when more and more people began to flood in. What had been a crowded car where I was forced to stand became a pressure cooker of smell and movement. I was standing there being pissy about having strangers so close to me when I looked up from my book. There was this woman calmly reading her book but all the people pressed around her were men. The men weren’t doing anything that I could see and she wasn’t reacting as if anyone was touching her but it just hit me, this may be a physically uncomfortable situation for me but it is something entirely different for women.  

As a man:

I can be sure that when pressed up against each other most of the brushes against my body are a accidents.

I can be sure that the man standing next to me isn’t going to “accidently” run his hand repeatedly up and down my ass.

I can be sure that what I feel pressed against me is an elbow or a knee.

I can be sure that if I was touched innappropriately and I voiced that I would be taken seriously.

I can feel pretty safe in my body on that crowded subway.

This is a sign of privilege, my automatic assumption of bodily integrity. 

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2 responses to “It’s The Little Things

  1. Thanks for recognizing this.

    It is, incidentally, something I have never seen mentioned in discussions of American automobile culture and how to promote the use of public transportation. Using public transportation is not a gender-neutral activity.

  2. Using public transportation is not a gender-neutral activity.

    I completely agree and it’s something that the idea of being green and using more public transit has never brought into the discussion. I just read this article on Pam’s House Blend which linked to this one about a horrible incident on an airline.

    It’s such a huge issue and one about which there is such silence or even worse met with a male supremacist shrug and laugh i.e. the “boys will be boys” defense. It’s disgusting.

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