The other day I was getting ready to board a flight at Washington Regan National Airport. I arrived in plenty of time and the gate area for SW Airlines was chaos. I looked for a seat and spotted one near where I would get in line for the SW crazy boarding system. Two men flanked this seat and they were quite comfortable with their legs spread and their knees completely blocking the available seat.
I walked deliberately over to them, placed myself in front of the available seat and said, “OK boys that’s enough manspreading.” and maneuvered into the seat. They moved over, said nothing and we all settled down.
SOMETIMES LEANING IN IS NOT ENOUGH!
Women everywhere – Please start claiming what you know to be yours! I was cheerful and friendly, and I hoped, somewhat funny. I assumed that I had a right to that seat. I did not wait for an opportunity or to be asked if I wanted a seat. We must act empowered if we want to get what is ours.
Now I’m not asserting that this always works, but I do believe that taking charge and moving forward without being invited to do so is what women must do to close the gap.
Manspreading, of course is a minor symptom of patriachial privilege; however, I believe this attitude and course of action can work in many situations.
For years I worked for a man who was a terrible womanizer and actually had several sexual harassment complaints filed against him. I joked with him that he had never made a pass at me. He said, “Oh you just didn’t notice. You ignored me and went on about your business.” Of course this is not the total answer, but perhaps if enough people told Harvey to “put that thing away” and walked out, less sexual exploitation would have happened in the fancy hotels of Hollywoodland.
Seriously, if men treat women badly anyway, what have we got to lose by calling them out.
In the office meeting when Joe interrupts you, raise your voice, and say, “I think I have the floor now, Joe and I have a point to make.”
In the job interview when negotiating a salary, ask about equality for men and women in the company, job audits, performance reviews. We are past just getting in the door. We should expect and get equal pay for equal work.
So many women like myself grew up as baby boomers and were fed a steady diet of — Get a Man — Get Married — Get someone to take care of you. Be nice — be a lady — wait to be asked! That time is over in the board room and the bedroom and everywhere in between. But all to often we still hear our mother’s voice or other women who were supposed to be role models telling us to talk softly, don’t be strident, no boy will ask you out if you are so bossy.
It is hard not to hear these voices especially when so many young women today still spout some of the same crap. Turn it off. Smile, Insist and move forward. IT IS PAST TIME!