Her submission, ‘A Solution for Man Spreading’ consists of two chairs – one for men and one for women. The one for men is designed in order to actively discourage ‘man spreading’, the one for women is designed to encourage women to sit in a ‘bolder and bigger’ way.
I personally like the concept, the ideas and issues it raises about encroachment of personal space in public and how that makes us feel.
Maybe it’s because I view it as an arty type rather than an angry man – I don’t know.
What I do know though is that these chairs have been designed, created and considered innovative enough to have won a prestigious award.
What has NOT happened is these chairs become law and about to be rolled out across the land. Though they exist as physical pieces they are still very much more a concept than an absolute.
So what could be the problem?
Bizarrely it seems a lot of people, mostly men, didn’t get this memo and have taken a very personal offence to Laila’s creation.
Some men have been so very threatened by this pair of chairs (though choosing to focus on just the male one) that exists in an exhibition in London where they are rather unlikely to be or go.
These men may never have to see or sit in the chair yet they are so cross that they have seen fit to retaliate with pictures of their dicks and threats of rape – yes, actual rape.
Others have decided she is a man hater and declared that she probably ‘won’t get laid’ because of her desire not to have some stranger’s knee invading her personal space whilst pretending they have the hugest bollocks that can barely be contained.
There is so much wrong with both of these responses and all those in between.
Let’s start with the latter.
Are there honestly still men who assume everything a woman says and does is with the sole intention of ‘getting laid’?
Do they think we have ideas hoping they will render us desirable to them?
Do they think I am writing this in a hope that someone out there will read it and think ‘well that’s the kind of woman I want to shag?’
(To be honest, the kind of man I’m talking about wouldn’t read this and if he did, he would declare me a fat, hairy, man hating feminazi who needs to get laid – I am not hairy and I am getting plenty thank you very much!)
To assume every choice we make is done with the intention of appearing more desirable is frankly as ridiculous as the notion that in the 21st century women choose to shave or wear make up ‘for men’.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news gents but more often than not we just do things because we WANT to.
We do these things for OURSELVES.
Though I find the notion of some men still assuming that all we do is to appeal to them rather unnerving. I find more alarming the retaliation by some men when they feel threatened by a woman.
There are actual men out there who are so offended by a chair and the idea that a woman doesn’t like to have her space encroached, that they respond by threatening physical harm or sending unsolicited dick pics.
Whilst this is massively disturbing in itself (as well as illegal), what is MORE worrying is that there are men out there who honestly view their penis as a weapon – as something to evoke fear.
“You said something I didn’t like – look at my schlong and fear me”
In the 21st century we have men – maybe they’re our brothers, our partners, our sons or even our dads, who believe that their penis makes them better, stronger and more powerful than us women and if we dare to disagree then they will use their strength and their penis to hurt us, to show us we’re wrong.
I find this entirely baffling and I worry.
Laila states that most of these messages are coming from 30-40 year olds – MY GENERATION.
A generation with members who still believe that they can cut any woman down by simply owning (and waving around) a penis, like it’s more powerful than Thor’s hammer. For as long as there are pockets of men out there who think that, we will never have equality – we don’t have a penis and therefore we don’t have power or the ability to instil fear in others by threatening to violate them.
This belief comes from somewhere though, there are parents or guardians or caregivers allowing this to manifest and it is down to us to stop it. To talk to our kids and make them realise that it’s not a power tool.
It’s been a VERY long time since I’ve received an unsolicited dick pic (thankfully) but I’m rarely offended. Luckily I find the whole thing pathetic – like one of those ‘Wot No…’ cartoons.
This isn’t me being smug, rather a whole lot of experience and conditioning has led me to that. I completely appreciate that not everyone has that luxury but maybe the way we start to resolve this is two-fold.
Firstly we take the power back by pointing and laughing at an unsolicited dick pic, make them as worthless to us as the sender – granted this isn’t quite as easy with threats of rape but small steps may make a big difference.
Secondly, and most importantly, we teach our boys that their penis isn’t a weapon to belittle and demean others and teach our girls that the penis isn’t something that should be allowed to make them feel fear.
I know this is all easier said than done but we need to start talking and teaching to make sure our next generations don’t follow this path.
Thanks to Erica – The Incidental Parent for sounding this out with me.
We’ll put our faces on and teach our boys that strength doesn’t come from the penis and our girls that what you do, say, design or think is your right and shouldn’t be tempered or influenced by what ANYONE else may think.
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