Dear men who take up too much room on public transport: Stop.

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By MELISSA WELLHAM

This is going to sound like the beginning of a bad stand up routine, but I’m going to say it anyway: men on public transport, am I right?!

I could just be going crazy, but I feel like men on public transport take up far more space than their actual physical mass means is necessary. It’s like every time I step on to a train, I’m entering some kind of weird space-time warp, whereby men double in size. And they continue to expand in magnitude as the train ride progresses, only returning from Behemoth to regular bro, once the journey has been completed.

Or in fact, it could just be because dudes are not always paying much attention to their surroundings, and have a tendency to sprawl. Or stand unnecessarily close to you, even when the train might be almost empty.

While I tuck my knees together, pull my elbows next to my body, and hug my backpack to my chest to make more room; some men seem comfortable with stretching their legs, spreading their knees, placing their briefcase in front of their feet (or worse, on the set next to them), and straight-up lounging as the train fills up with more people.

Guys like this:

men taking up too much space on public transport
Except usually there aren’t any other seats left on the train.

And like this:

men taking up too much space on public transport
This guy wins some of my favour for daring to wear those shoes, however…

Oh, and like this, too:

men taking up too much space on public transport
Out of the shot I imagine that there’s a woman standing.

This phenomenon has been explored by the photo blogs Men Taking Up Too Much Space On The Subway and Move The Fuck Over, Bro. Both have, unsurprisingly, drawn a fair amount of ire from the male public-transport-catchers of our species.

‘But men have longer legs!’ men cry. ‘Our arms are more awkward and ungainly!’ they exclaim. ‘We must spread our legs to give our testicles room to breathe!’ they plead.

As the creator of Move The Fuck Over, Bro responds: “Your balls are not that big.”

It doesn’t stop on public transport, either. The space hogging continues right out onto the streets. Getting off the train the walking through the Sydney CBD on my way to work, I have lost count of the number of times that I have become stuck behind men in business suits, walking four abreast as they talk shop, ambling down a busy thoroughfare.

I get it, dudes. You have important man-things to talk about. The four of you must walk side-by-side, as your egos would be hurt if one of you had to follow in the footsteps of the others. Your ability to assert macho dominance in the cruel politics of pavement power plays would be undermined.

And I know I am just a girl wearing jeans and t-shirt and so I clearly don’t have anywhere important to be, but goddamnit, I have to get to work on time just like you do. Don’t assume that just because you are a man, with man legs, that you are faster than everyone else on the street; particularly when the spry-footed business women darting down the street in tottering heels like impressive, attractive mountain goats show that in terms of speed, you are more like the lumbering bears of the city jungle.

Not that there’s anything wrong with bears, but you know. Make way for the cheetahs.

mexican standoff
Who will be the first to crack? (It’s always me.)

One of my favourite games to play while walking down a narrow footpath is a version of a Mexican standoff. Let me set the scene for you.

A young woman walks to the left of the pavement. Ahead, two men walk side-by-side, approaching her rapidly. She sees them; they see her. Eyes narrow.

Their point of collision is drawing ever closer, and neither man seems inclined to walk in single file as they pass the girl on the street.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?

Invariably, the girl (that is, me) steps off the footpath. The men continue walking two abreast, with nary an ‘excuse me’.

Perhaps this is just me. Perhaps I don’t have a very intimidating footpath presence. Perhaps I am just cursed, and nobody else has ever experienced this phenomenon of being trampled on trains and pushed around on footpaths.

Don’t even get me started on plane etiquette. YOU DO NOT NEED BOTH THE ARM RESTS, YOU – ahem. Never mind.

Disclaimer: Obviously, not all the males of our species are guilty of such blinkered behaviour. And not all women are polite and space-conscious on public transport (some notable examples spring to mind…). This is merely my experience of public transport – yours could be completely different.

Do you think men tend to take up too much space on public transport? Or is this issue not about men, but about rude folks in general who don’t pay much attention to their surroundings? 

What do you think?

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