Gender Rules for Crossing the Street

I walk everywhere.  Not needing to have a car is a blessing of living on the East Coast.  Janna walks everywhere, too. Sometimes, we walk together — and therein lies the rub when it comes to combining our love of walking — because we usually have trouble crossing the street.

When Janna and I walk alone, we walk fast.  When we walk together, we hold hands, and our pace is generally slower and more meandering.

When I have to cross the street alone, I always defer to a car in the intersection, because I have, too often, almost been run over by indifferent drivers.  There seems to be a generally understood Rule of the Street that if a man needs to cross the street, the man waits for any car to pass, and then he crosses the street.  I don’t even tempt that meme anymore.  I just always stop and wait for the car to pass.  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, the driver will wave me to pass, and I do, but I always run, because even though I’ve been given permission to “cross” — the car is always creeping forward and never actually stops.

When Janna walks alone — I have watched this from a distance, and confirmed it with her in the unobserved specific — she always crosses the street in front of a car.  She expects the cars will stop for her and let her cross and, in fact, they do, and they don’t even slowly creep forward as she passes!  It’s pretty amazing to watch her control traffic just because of — what appears to be — deference to her gender.

When we walk together, holding hands, we find trouble and miscommunication at the crosswalk.  If there’s a car approaching, I want to stop and let the car pass, and Janna demands that we cross and make the car stop.  My experience tells me to stop.  Her experience commands her to go!

What to do?

We usually end up having a small tug-of-war-of-hands as she starts to cross the street and I instinctually pull back to stop her.  She yanks me forward and we often find ourselves in the middle of the street pushing and pulling in opposite directions.

Sometimes, I’m smart enough to stop holding hands before the crosswalk, but that usually ends up with Janna crossing the street without me and me waiting for the car to pass and Janna waiting for me to follow her.  Never make Janna wait — if you know what’s good for you on a walk!

I have learned that, when we walk together, the Gender Rule for crossing the street seems to defer to her:  Cars will wait for the two of us as the girl trumps the boy in the meme of street courtesy.  I usually try to slow down and at least wait for a driver acknowledgement that we can cross the street together, but Janna doesn’t care if the driver acquiesces or not — she’s the pedestrian and she has the right of way.  I agree with her in general, but in the specific experience, cars on the East Coast don’t care about pedestrian rights, and I prefer not to seek insurance compensation from a hospital bed.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned during my walks is to always watch for the white backup lights on the back of a car.  If those white lights are on, be extremely careful, because the car is engaged in Reverse Drive and all gender rules are suspended.  White lights mean danger — you’re going to get backed up on in seconds! — and the car doesn’t care if you’re male or female.

16 comments

  • Elizabeth and I are generally like this as well except that when she is walking with Chaim, she is a lot more like you — not willing to risk getting hit. I am generally like you as well — except today when I crossed York Avenue, and there was not even anywhere for the car turning onto York to go because traffic was backed up, and yet he STILL tried to intimidate me into stopping for him — and I refused because if he hit me, he would just slam into the car in front of him next and that would be a losing situation for him as well. I remember in New Jersey, hitting a person in a crosswalk was a greater criminal offense than if they were not in a crosswalk.

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    • It really is terrifying on the streets — don’t get me started on bicycles on the sidewalks! — and I get incensed when cars actually SPEED UP when you are crossing in the middle of the block just to scare you. This all seems to be an East Coast thing for some reason — probably because there are so many people walking, and the cars just think of us as one of them.

      In the Midwest, pedestrians are a little more respected — probably because there are so few of them, it’s a surprise when you see one.

      When I was in Sacramento many years ago, the locals were appalled when I crossed the street mid-block — jaywalked — and did not continue all the way to the corner to wait for the light to change.

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  • I don’t know if it’s gender or just being aggressive. I always make eye contact with the driver before I cross the street.

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    • Making eye contact is always good — but for a man to do that to another man can be seen as being too aggressive and have adverse results… like the warning about never to look a dog in the eye…

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  • There was me thinking jay walking – ie crossiing the street other than on a designated crossing was a big NO NO.

    Maybe just maybe this is an instance where todays man can still be chivalrous – since the opening of doors for women and other such acts of politeness/chivalry have been turned into acts of political incorrectness by the more rabid exponents of feminism.

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    • Jaywalking is still massively illegal — but commonplace in NYC and Jersey City — and I do it, and I know why others do it: You stand a better chance of not getting hit by a car because, in the middle of a block, cars generally are forced to stay in a straight line moving forward. Stopped at an intersection, cars can back up, turn left or right or go straight… all without much sense or warning. All those variables are dangers to pedestrians. Having a car speeding down the street at 25 mph gives a certain peace of predictability to those of us walking.

      I think you are on to something about being chivalrous! Women drivers don’t tend to stop for me — though they do more than men do when they do — so I do think there’s a certain street discrimination against any walking man… probably because they think we’re too idiotic to actually drive a car! SMILE!

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  • Unsuscribe please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ________________________________

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    • I’m sorry Theresia, I can’t unsubscribe you. You need to click on the link in the footer of your “New Post” notification email to remove yourself.

      All the followers from our 14 blogs were moved to this new Boles Blogs, so there may be duplicate notifications sent. Sorry! This is a WP.com feature and not something I can control.

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      • I’m glad that Theresia asked — I was thinking it seemed odd that I got so many notification e-mails for the same post. Under “manage subscriptions” I whittled it down to just one of this lovely blog :)

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        • When I published your article this morning, I received 14 “New Post” notifications in email. Now, I love me some new Gordon, but NOT 14 TIMES AT ONCE! SMILE!

          I asked WP.com support if followers they imported from the other blogs were only added once to BolesBlogs.com — and I was assured that was the case.

          Perhaps not?

          To fix it, I just followed the link in the New Post email to manage the notifications and I successfully unsubscribed from all the new 14 duplicate notifications for “Boles Blogs” down to just one.

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          • I think the subscription list just dumbly did what it was told. You’re subscribed to Carceral Nation? Great! Now that blog is called Boles Blogs. You’re subscribed to Go Inside? Super! That is also called Boles Blogs. Repeat twelve more times. :)

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          • I think that’s exactly what happened. Instead of checking to see if we had a subscriber to more than one of our blogs, and then parsing the extra subscriptions, the backend flag was just changed from the old blog to Blogs Blogs.

            I don’t think we had too many people were were all in as followers for all the blogs — but there were many who had more than one subscription.

            I just hope they figure out what happened and don’t blame us. They can blame you — but don’t YELL AT ME! SMILE!

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  • Funny. What happens when you’re together at the corner and Janna takes off ahead of you? The car lets her pass and then makes you wait?

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  • Pingback: Lying in Wait and the Unwanted Exposition of Repressed Rage « Boles Blogs

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