Lavaballs and Dealing With It

“[I]t’s when someone sits on public transit and, presumably for reasons resulting from an unbearable, scorching heat in their groin, must spread their legs wide. The vast majority of the time, this is a man. The vast majority of the time, they encroach on the personal space of a woman. When this happens to you, you are dealing with it. The encroachment has already happened; you must respond. You can cross your legs, give way, open the space he’s insisting on. Or you can plant your legs and refuse. This requires physical contact for the duration of your intent, or the duration of his intent to claim what he thinks is his. You run the risk of him taking this as a challenge, as a flirtation, as an offense. I’ve lived in this city for almost a decade. I chose my lavaball strategy early. I have big legs; thick, muscular. When I sit, I sit with legs straight and feet on the floor, using no more space than necessary. When I am lavaballed, I dig them in and hold firm. If you want a five-second social experiment, this is it. Some men get angry. Some men hit on you. Some men – the honest men, maybe – without ever acknowledging your presence, will push harder and harder against your leg; if they can’t will you to do it, they will force you. All of them, every single one, is surprised to encounter resistance. Once, a guy pushed as hard as he could for twenty minutes. He gained no ground. He then moved to the opposite bench – that had been empty the entire time – sat down, and spread his legs as wide as he could. He never looked at me. I never moved. (Sometimes that’s how you deal with it: you do nothing, as hard as you can.) When I sit down now – when I sit anywhere – I take the aisle seat. I’m dealing with it. I have no choice.”

via Genevieve Valentine – Dealing With It found via Metafilter





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