In 2015 Beth Breslaw conducted an experiment: for two months on crowded Manhattan sidewalks she didn’t move out of the way of other pedestrians. What happened? She collided with lots of men and almost no women. In an article in New York magazine, this phenomenon of males colliding with females was dubbed “manslamming.” In the article Breslaw claimed that “I can remember every single man who moved out of the way because there were so few,”
Other women have recreated the experiment. For example, Anna Langston, a student at the Pratt Institute, recreated the experiment on the less crowded streets of Brooklyn. She found that women generally “re-routed” – meaning they moved out of the way in advance of a possible collision – while men “dodged” – meaning they jumped aside at the last second. There were no collisions though. The author stated that “men weren’t totally refusing to move aside. The fact that they were dodging meant that either they kept expecting me to move up until the last second or they just have less spatial awareness than women do. From their startled expressions, the latter seemed more likely.”
Others have called BS on these unscientific experiments and question whether “manslamming” is a thing.
The concept of manslamming was brought to my attention a few years ago by my daughter Audrey. She occasionally partakes in small manslamming experiments. For instance, a few weeks ago at the Denver airport she decided she wasn’t going to step aside for others and ended up having quite a few collisions with males. Her conclusion is that males do usually expect women to move out of the way.
Since Audrey brought manslamming to my attention I’ve kept tabs on my own actions as I move relative to other people, particularly females. I think there is validity to Breslaw’s manslamming theory. I’ve noticed that if I am walking through crowds at airports, sporting events or bars that I do walk more aggressively than most females. If I am with my wife or daughters walking through a crowd I have to tend to wait for them as they get caught up in the crowd while I am able to make my way through. I’ve also noticed my own lack of spatial awareness more since Audrey pointed out the manslamming concept; it’s not that I am trying to be a jerk – I am often just spatially clueless.
Of course, manslamming is close cousin to the concept of “manspreading.“
John- working on appreciation this year and wanted to let you know IFOD has been a gift. Been amused and educated for the last 9 months once a colleague shared your work with me. THANK YOU! And not sure how to reciprocate besides this note, but open to ideas :). Cheers- Jack
Thanks for the nice note and thanks for reading. I appreciate it.
I wonder if Anna’s sister carried a mattress on her back at Columbia to engage in “manshaming”? Seems like there are a lot of women out there with time on their hands looking to be victimized. Used to be men would gallantly step aside for women and even offer up their seats in the subway, but those days are gone. Chauvinism rules and chivalry died at the hands of Dworkin and MacKinnon.