Three times. Twice in the morning and once in the afternoon. Three times yesterday a man tried to walk through me on the sidewalk. Each time he looked straight at me, past me, around me, and kept on moving. It feels like a dare. Will I move? Will I let him pass? Will I slip my foot out a bit and trip him?
I almost never step aside. And nearly every time I keep my stride, I get a sideways glance. How dare I take up this man’s space? How dare I move along the eighteen inches upon which he is also moving? Do I not understand the hierarchy of space taker-uppers? First, it’s rich men. Then poor men. Old men. Young men. Literally every other man. And then us.
All my life I’ve been told to shrink. Make my body smaller. Make my tone softer. Make my feelings tamer. Shrink shrink shrink. If I’d answered every call to shrink, I’d be invisible. And not in a cool “look at this trick” X-Men kind of way. If I’d answered every call to shrink, I’d be a wisp, just a passing breeze. Or exactly how this man on the street sees me.
But I won’t be a breeze. I am not refreshing. I am not easy, breezy, beautiful. I am a storm. I am the strong winds in the North. I am a hurricane.
I tighten my shoulder and keep on moving. I let him try to walk through me. But through me he does not. We hit. He turns. I keep moving.
Storms don’t stop for men.