There’s been a fascinating discussion on WMST-L about gendered differences in sidewalk behaviour– the expectation that women will get out of men’s way, and the expectation that men won’t do this for women. Jessica Nathanson reports the following:
I’ve assigned students the task of walking down the sidewalk and not getting out of men’s way and then reporting what happens. Several women have reported being bumped into. What was particularly interesting was hearing about this as learned gender behavior when one male student who was also trans talked about learning that he had to walk down the middle of the sidewalk, through crowded spaces such as clubs, etc., with his head up, eyes directly ahead, without saying excuse me or worrying about bumping into people. What my students and I learned from this exercise is that walking down the middle of the sidewalk is a male entitlement, as is expecting others to get out of one’s way in other crowded spaces. And – not only is it an entitlement, but it is also a way of performing maleness, so that NOT doing these things marks one as less than manly.
I’m definitely going to try assigning this one to students. (Although I suspect the norms will be different in the UK– people say “sorry” a lot more in general– I also suspect that some form of the this difference will exist.)