This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Earlier this week, BBC News ran an article based on a wider survey it had done about "anti-social" commuting habits (fair examples: clipping your nails, eating a packet of shrimp on the bus). The piece in question zeroed in on one of the "habits" that made some angry: women applying makeup on public transportation.
I have always thought that doing your face on the bus or train is a normal, sensible thing that lots of us do in order to make our mornings as time-efficient as possible. Unless you've literally tipped your entire lipstick collection out on the table and asked the person next to you to draw on you with it, you're not encroaching on anyone else, right? Just keeping to yourself, minding your own business, popping on a bit of eyebrow gel.
Apparently not. Two men—"Michael, 59" and "Gerard, 60"—who are quoted in the article are to be believed. In probably the most unbearably funny comments ever provided to the press, they revealed their annoyance at seeing someone putting on blush on the tube train: "I think once or twice I just stared at the person thinking that they would eventually notice and feel embarrassed. That never happened," said Michael. He also added that he was once so taken aback by a woman applying makeup on a train that he changed carriages.
*Space I am leaving for you to get up off the floor from all the laughing*
If Michael's astonishing show was not enough to prove to you that old, (presumably) white dudes are absolutely out of their minds, Gerard picks up the baton in this relay race of offense-taking: "There seems to be something so totally 'in your face' about females who insist on their dubious 'rights' in this matter," he said. Us "females" and our rights, eh? How banal!
I won't say I'm necessarily surprised by these comments—I know Michaels and Gerards; I have seen them in garden centers, resentful wives at their backs, clutching terra-cotta pots, wagging their fingers, telling managers that the teenage assistants spoke to them flippantly—but I will say simply that their comments are a bit rich, considering all the ridiculous things that men like this, who believe their personal comfort should be everyone’s primary concern.
Here’s all the shit that the Michaels and Gerards of the world inflict on their fellow commuters daily, all of which is way worse than me curling my eyelashes in my phone camera on the bus if I’ve overslept.
Reading a newspaper
Close your eyes and ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a woman unfold a full copy of The Times, on a packed train? Even if you really, really dig deep, I would wager that you have seen a woman do this, at most, once in your life—but more than likely never. On the other hand, men—especially commuting men—seem to be possessed of the strong belief that their need to read about Brexit takes priority over the personal space of those around them. Therefore, you’ll commonly spot them unfurling their gigantic newspapers as elaborately as that bit in Love, Actually when Rowan Atkinson is wrapping up the necklace that Alan Rickman is buying for his secretary or whatever—arms spread like the fucking Angel of the North, while you’re just trying to get through a claustrophobic train journey without having a panic attack.
I get that they’re very important and special and need to know about the FTSE and other busy man things, but also: They could literally just read it on their phones, dispossessing nobody of their precious breathing room—although they wouldn’t be able to show off about how knowledgeable they are if they did that, would they?
Talking on the phone in the quiet train car
Lots of people are guilty of this, but for some reason, it grates more when some suit guy is going "Helen? Yep, Helen. Just checking in. Are we all good for the 10 AM? Have you sent the email around yet? ...Well, can you do it, please? I expect better, Helen. OK. Bye. Bye," as if to announce that a) he's important enough to have an assistant, and b) he likes to treat her like shit, as if Helen doesn't have tons of other things to do. Hope Helen spits in his coffee!
Asking people to move down the car but never actually moving down themselves
It starts with a passive-aggressive clearing of the throat. He’s not got enough room for his briefcase, you see, and his briefcase needs room because, being his briefcase, it is special, but right now he’s having to hold it up in his arms like a baby (the pose, he thinks, is emasculating, as if hunter-gatherers ever crammed their bodies onto metal trains to take them to metropolises where single-serving sandwiches are readily available).
Once he’s done his little cough, nobody responds, so then he tuts and/or sighs. Still nothing. So he goes for it, addressing those around him: "Can you move down please?" he says loudly. People shuffle around a bit, and his briefcase now has a little area. He is sated. But in this kerfuffle that he has caused, does he make any effort to reposition himself? Does he give a single fuck?
(See also: wearing a backpack that makes him look like a fucking snail and refusing to remove it even though it is directly in a short woman’s face.)
Looking at what you’re doing on your phone while you’re sitting next to them (see also: reading over your shoulder)
Once, I was sitting on a bus and the man next to me was looking at my phone and what I was doing on it so intently that I moved seats because I felt scared. This is the sort of behavior—intrusive and actually a bit quietly threatening—that warrants a move to another part of the vehicle! Not someone doing their eyeshadow! You absolute babies!
For shame, Richard.
Watching utter shit on their iPads
Commuting men always have a really, really ridiculous iPad travel entertainment set-up, which closely resembles a bomb disposal kit. With the amount of clacking it takes for them to get it out and ready to go on the little table, which it takes up in its entirety, they only have about ten minutes of viewing time (always sport-related, but a really dead sport like cricket?) before they have to alight. But are they getting it out anyway? You bet your sweet ass they are!
Having just a really big umbrella
Often, I wonder if men know that you can actually buy hand-sized umbrellas? They’re, like, the exact size most people need to keep them nicely dry. The reason I ponder this question is because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Michael or a Gerard on a mode of transportation with a hand-sized umbrella. Instead, they’re always carrying those huge ones that you use on golf courses, points on the ground like Gandalf’s staff, as if all their masculine power flows through this huge, vaguely phallic rain-guard. Toxic masculinity at work!
Eating a croissant
If all these men went on strike at once, Pret a Manger would have to discontinue their almond croissants, which are simply the messiest of the croissant family (flakes of pastry and little delicious bits of nut, all over the shop, like sand). An almond croissant is to be enjoyed in a leisurely manner, on a Sunday, while sitting on some garden furniture—or better yet, en France herself, gazing up at la tour Eiffel, perhaps! I’ll tell you where it doesn’t belong: on the 7:55 from Colchester, getting all over everyone else’s shoes. Have a tidier breakfast.
Fold up bikes: Why?
You’re on a train, so honestly why you need to bring with you an entire other mode of transportation—one so large that another commuter could have fit in the space it’s currently occupying on this vehicle—I’ll never understand. Do you have feet?