I have been thinking a lot about space lately. Not like outer space, NASA, celestial bodies, but space here on earth, especially in cities. Cities work as systems because everyone agrees to take up less space in land for their home, their possessions, etc. Population density is higher for this reason. In cities, the concept of social distancing is inherently more complicated than it is in rural areas. That it not to say the value of distancing in mitigating the spread of the Covid virus is less in rural areas, but it is easier for each person to take up a bit more space in areas where there is more space available.
In cities, however, there is less space to go around. It requires more conscious thought and respectful consideration of others to navigate through space in a city. This is especially true in public spaces, like parks, or on public transportation, for those who still use it because they have to.
I used to take the bus or MAX (my city’s light rail train system) on my commute to work every day for years. I always found it a decent place to people watch, with the added benefit of getting a ride to wherever you were going. But there are times, generally around rush hours, where you can really tell a lot about the people around you by how they behave in a confined space. I’m not sure who first coined the term “man-spreading,” but you probably get the gist of the action without much further definition.
True, not ALL men take part in this action, but those who do, sit in a seat while spreading their legs enough to be purposefully taking up space in the areas of the seats on either side, are a specific type of man, and not necessarily those with “testicular fortitude.” Sadly, I’ve witnessed a lot of the same sort of behavior among those who are deliberately choosing not only to not wear a mask when indoors in places where they may not be able to maintain the recommended distance from others, but also to shame others for respecting the guidelines put forth by the CDC. It is about believing that you have a right to take more than your share of space, to be disrespectful of others trying to maintain and hold their space, and to refuse to acknowledge the appropriate invisible line between you and others. It is a display of power. And those actions should not be tolerated by society.
Now that the vaccines are being distributed with full force, the word is that there are a significant number of men, many of the republican persuasion, who are choosing to forgo this potentially lifesaving shot. To what end? To “own the libs?” It’s true, we will all be worse off if a large subset of the population decides against getting the vaccine. What’s funny is that this is the same crowd who was promoting “herd immunity” nearly a year ago. Nothing gets a population to herd immunity faster than a largely side-effect free vaccine, widely consumed. And yet, they balk.
I get it. It is really difficult to spend your time being concerned about what the effects of your actions will be on others you encounter and considering those consequences prior to your acting. I mean, it would really be paralyzing if we were all expected to consider others, as opposed to just doing whatever the fuck we wanted at all times. 😋
Everyone wants to be out of this pandemic. There are those of us who are taking every opportunity to take small actions that, on whole, will help society to ours on toward that goal. And then there are the man-spreaders.
Don’t be a man-spreader!