Corona Class, Lesson #5


Pandemic Patriarchy

In these funny old times of an unseen virus which, can be asymptomatic but be passed on to others we have to access our sense of collective responsibility in order to keep in control of its spread, but the one crucial piece of Coronavirus advice, to stay two metres away from anyone while outside, is easier said, than done especially when passing someone in the supermarket aisle or when sharing the pavement.

Pavement protocol has long been a preoccupation of mine long before the Coronavirus as I have been playing a game called ‘Patriarchy Chicken‘. Picture the scene: due to road works the pavement has been reduced to single file with a bit of room for manoeuvre on the road. I see a man walking towards me on the only available bit of pavement, it’s 50/50 who will move first but once eye contact has been made, it becomes apparent it won’t be me. I’m playing Patriarchy Chicken and I want to win. ‘So what?’ you say ‘It has got nothing to do with gender, that guy was probably in his own world.’ He probably was, most men are usually clueless not malicious. But women of the UK: try it. I promise, it’s a thing and the more you play it, the more you realise it is.

Ultimately we are all people and right now, all people have the capacity to be annoying, such as, couples who take up the whole path by holding hands and refuse to let go as though their relationship depends on it. But noticeably the demographic of people who think the two metre rule doesn’t apply to them seem to be young men. Out of the general population they’re one of the groups who are least likely to be adversely affected by Coronavirus and maybe that makes them feel immune, but again, being considerate is something we all have to do. In normal times the highest risk when playing Patriarchy Chicken was creating confusion, consternation and occasionally anger from men who are used to doing things their way.

The game now has higher stakes, it’s not just about making a point it’s about ‘staying safe’ a mantra we hear daily. Obviously staying safe comes first so I give way, walk into the road if necessary and grumpily tut. Patriarchy Chicken doesn’t seem worth playing because the point for me, was proven a long time ago, being aware and changing behaviour is the most important thing and it’s no longer about point scoring, it’s about staying safe, because if we’re all staying safe, we’re all winning.


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