You've heard about "mansplaining" and "manspreading." Now get ready for "manslamming!" OK, but in all seriousness, many women have experienced walking somewhere — whether down a sidewalk or hallway — and constantly moving aside for the men walking toward them from the opposite direction. It doesn't matter if they've got to hop onto the grass, tuck their shoulders in, or press themselves against a wall to make space; they move aside.
Ultimately, the act of moving aside falls under the concept of taking up space — something that women are conditioned not to do. So when Reddit user u/eyelinerschmeyeliner shared her story of taking up space by standing her ground on a tight sidewalk and finally not feeling bad about it, many women opened up with their own experiences:
1. "I live in a busy city, and the sidewalks get crowded. I'm not disrespectful of this. So, I'm walking my dog on the right side, and two 6-foot-tall, WASP-looking dudes with iced coffees are walking toward me, next to each other, on this 4-foot-wide sidewalk. Usually, polite groups will move one behind the other, and — from decades of trying to not take up space — I'll tuck my shoulder or pull to the side, especially when it's narrow. However, this wasn’t a narrow pass, and they were NOT polite. There was a wall for a home to my right, so there was literally nowhere for me to go. With my dog tucked to my side, I held my body language strong and kept on walking. When they did not move AT ALL, my shoulder hit his arm. It wasn’t hard. It didn’t hurt. Then, I heard an ice-filled plastic splash behind me. I turned around, about 20 feet away, and instead of apologizing, I (probably not as calmly as I think) said, 'You know you could have moved, too?'"
2. "When I was in a huge college — with more than 30,000 students — I was walking to work on a fairly wide sidewalk. I was already on the right side, by myself, with plenty of space on my left side for the other direction of traffic. However, two men, walking opposite of me, took up over half of the sidewalk. I didn't move. Instead, I pretended to be on my phone and ignored them since, again, I was fully on the right side — not in any normal person's way. One of the dudes ran into me and called me a bitch, and his friend called me a cunt. I hadn't done anything except keep to myself."
3. "At the grocery store, a woman and two men were having a discussion in the frozen food aisle. I was the only other customer in the aisle and walking toward them. Did anybody move as I approached? No. Did I change my trajectory to accommodate them taking up the whole aisle? No. I walked up to them and said, 'Excuse me,' and made them get out of the way."
"I'd just had enough that day, too." —u/l80magpie
4. "I learned to assert my physical presence while waiting tables. Some guys would just barrel into you with a full tray if you didn't watch out, and then they'd shout at you. Fuck that. I started asserting my space, and one day, it became a bit of a conflict. A very tall, muscular guy decided not to share the road, so to speak, and was super mad that he dropped a bread basket when we collided. He yelled, 'Watch where you're going!' I yelled back, 'Stay to the right!' Then, he bellowed, 'I was walking!' So I shouted back, 'What was I doing?! Levitating?! Move, Gigantor!' The manager then told us to stop yelling, told him to stay to the right in the flow of traffic, and told me to stop antagonizing the guys."
5. "I'm Scottish, so we apologize for everything, but I noticed a few years ago that I'd been moving out of the way for everyone and decided to stop. I've usually got two dogs and a 4-year-old kid with me, but so many people still look at me, expecting me to move. I found myself dragging my dogs onto a filthy grass verge the other day because a guy in his 20s was coming toward us on a bicycle. After he passed, I was livid with myself because he should never have been on the path in the first place. It was not a cycle path, and he knows very well that he should be on the road. I even smiled at him as he passed before I came to my senses. Sometimes, we've been so deeply indoctrinated that it's hard to change, even when we're aware and actively trying to."
6. "At a concert with assigned seating, I was in my seat early, relaxed, and had my elbow on the right armrest. The left armrest was taken by someone else — which is totally fine; we should all get one. The guy to my right showed up, and, normally, I'd have removed my arm to make more space for the larger person, but then I'd have nowhere to rest at all. So I stayed, and it felt great. He still got his single armrest on the other side but not both. I get one, too."
7. "I had a man try to mow me down on a narrow pavement when my husband had already dropped behind me on the left. (I'm Aussie; we walk on the left.) He and his wife wanted us to move onto the grass. No, I didn’t. I stared him in the eye as I squared my shoulders to run into him if need be. The fucker moved. We'd already given half; I wasn't going to give all."
8. "Once, I was in the middle seat on a plane, trying to get just one armrest. The dude in the window seat was trying to take both armrests. I wouldn't give up, so he shoved my arm over to half the armrest — which is like 2 centimeters for half of the thing. Unbelievable. I pushed back and ignored his repeated dirty looks. I didn't feel brave enough to say anything."
9. "Once, I stepped out of the way subconsciously, and my male partner, who was on my other side, ended up in the grass. He glared at the man who refused to move out of the way, and it took me a while to realize why he was glaring. I’m too used to actually stepping into the grass myself for men who just walk through like no one else is around."
10. "When I was 30, I worked in an office that had a central rectangular corridor with rooms on the outside and inside. One day, I left my work area, and there were two men talking in the corridor, each standing on opposite sides. No big deal. Since I'm 5'1" and they're 6'0", I just walked down the middle. I didn't even make them break eye contact. However, one said I was rude to walk between them while they were talking. Back then, I had literally NO filter, so I stopped and said, 'Well, for one thing, I'm so short, so I know I didn't block your view. If you really don't want people to walk between you, stand on the same side of the corridor. As far as I'm concerned, you two are being rude to anyone walking down the corridor.'"
11. "Once, my husband and I were walking side by side down a narrow sidewalk, and another couple, also walking side by side, was walking toward us. My husband moved behind me and I kept right, expecting the other guy to do the same. However, the other guy decided he wasn't going to move, which would force both my husband and me off the sidewalk. I told my husband, 'Watch this,' and continued walking forward. As we get closer, I'm thinking, Wow, this dude just isn't going to move. Knowing I was going to come into impact with the guy, I made sure to brace myself and basically shoulder-checked this dude. He was so flabbergasted and stumbled before looking back in shock. I looked at him, shrugged my shoulders, and said, 'Yeah, you should move out of the way next time.'"
"My husband got a kick out of it! I no longer get out of the way of people who feel they are entitled to the entire sidewalk and don't have proper courtesy." —u/Confident-Tart-915
12. "I stopped moving out of the way after two men in suits, walking side by side, forced me off of the sidewalk and into the snow when I was heavily pregnant and carrying a toddler. No more. Now, when my kids try to get small or pull us out of the way, I cheerfully say, 'Don’t walk on the grass, sweetie. The sidewalk is for everyone!'"
13. "I refused to move once, and then I heard a beer bottle smash at my heels — as in, it was thrown at me a few seconds later. I am glad I didn't slow down or turn back, but I was afraid to wear the same outfit in that area for months."
14. "Early on in our relationship, my boyfriend had a habit of grabbing my arm and yanking me out of the way when we were walking on the sidewalk and he sensed that somebody was walking in our direction. I asked him why he did it, and he claimed it was his 'situational awareness and heightened senses from anxiety.' I asked him to stop. I told him that I also saw the people coming and would adjust accordingly, but just because I was a petite woman didn't mean that I didn't deserve to take up any space on the sidewalk."
"It's hard to assert your presence as a woman because people assume you're always the one to be polite and acquiesce to others." —u/ConniveryDives
15. "I have never forgotten the look on a man's face when I didn't get out of his way. One day, around lunchtime, I was going into town with about $2,000 in my bag to take to the bank for my place of work. Naturally, I was fairly intent on getting there. My walking pace is usually more of an amble, but this time, I was walking fast. This big guy in a very smart coat had to get out of my way because I was just making a beeline for the bank. I was quite oblivious that he had to move until I happened to look up at him as I passed. I saw his face, and it looked like a clenched fist. If he hadn't moved out of my way, he would have sent me flying, because he was at least a foot taller than me and three times heavier. On days when I was more aware of the space around me, I've actually stepped into the road to make room for other people out of misplaced politeness. That look of outrage and anger directed at me taught me never to do that again."
16. "When I was walking on a completely vacant sidewalk, one man was heading toward me, directly in my path. There was an entire sidewalk, and I'm crushed to the side so far that I'm walking on the lip, but he lines up and walks directly at me. I don't move. It becomes clear he's going to violently body slam me when we get close. This guy is solid, frumpy, and 20–30 years older than me. Sometimes, guys full-body slam you if you don't move out of their way. They plant their feet so they send you to the ground. It happens frequently. But if I'm not walking, he can't use that attack. So I stop exactly in my space and look at my phone. If he walks into me, he looks like a fool. He's mad; I can already tell. He still walks at me and brushes his chest against me — probably trying to make me drop my phone — while grumbling as he passes me."
"This is not an unusual day." —u/riverkaylee
Do you often move out of other people's ways when walking toward each other on the sidewalk? More generally, do you find yourself shrinking to avoid taking up space? Share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments below.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.