Essays

Taking up space when you don’t happen to be a man

Taking up space when you don’t happen to be a man

Originally published June 24, 2015 (but unfortunately still relevant)

I first diagnosed myself with “Invisible Person Syndrome” in my freshman year of high school.

In a matter of two days, I had several times been casually slammed — not walked — into by older, larger, male students. Each time, I managed not to fall over, but I teetered dangerously, and then walked on, no one else having noticed what had happened. Like it hadn’t happened at all.

Unable to suss out a reason for this unfortunate series of events, I simply decided that I had “Invisible Person Syndrome,” or IPS. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Getting walked into
  • Getting knocked over
  • Getting pushed into and/or over barriers at large events (concerts, rallies, parades, etc.)
  • Receiving dirty looks when it looks like you might make a movement on public transportation
  • Being verbally reprimanded when you dare to make said slight motion
  • A gradual increase in height from being squished all the damn time
  • Fury

As a high school freshman, I thought myself existentially brilliant for this naïve diagnosis. As a 23-year old woman, I now know that I was merely encountering a common problem I would face the rest of my life: Women apologizing for their existences.

In yesterday’s New York Times, Sloane Crosley nimbly writes about this issue in “Why Women Apologize and Should Stop,” focusing on the common female verbal tic of saying, “Sorry” when it simply isn’t necessary.

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