HE was just that little bit too close behind me.

It wasn’t sinister, initially, but it was uncomfortable and inconsiderate.

We were in a busy bar, I was out for a friend’s birthday and I needed to go to the loo. The chap in question happened to be going to the bathroom at the same time, we were both walking down a flight of stairs, and maybe he was in a rush but there was plenty of room to overtake me yet he wasn’t moving past.

Just there, right at my back, almost touching but not quite. If I’d halted suddenly he wouldn’t have been able to brake in time.

The bar in question had half-heartedly designed unisex toilets, as is increasingly common. The former women’s and men’s toilets are made unisex simply by the changing of signs.

This means there is one space with cubicles and urinals – the former men’s bathroom –and one with cubicles – the former women’s toilets.

In this particular club, to get to the cubicles-only toilet required walking along a landing where the cubicle and urinals toilets was the first door on the left.

I was reassured that as soon as we reached this door my surprise new friend would peel off and I’d be left to my own devices.

Not so. He kept walking, keeping right up behind me. We reached the cubicles-only door and he was still there. I pushed the door and it clunked off something and was slammed shut, making me step back on to my pal.

There was a bit of shuffling behind the door so I pushed it again and this time it opened.

The problem had been four young guys hanging out behind the door, having a chat. They shuffled forward so I could enter and my shadow followed me in.

Now here I am in a dark, enclosed space with four strange men in front of me and one even stranger man in my personal space right behind me.

I felt uncomfortable. Each cubicle door was shut and locked bar one so I walked to it.

The guy was still right behind me. It was weird by this point. I walked into the cubicle and turned around. He was standing in the door frame. I looked at him, he looked at me.

“There are more toilets next door,” I said, for want of better small talk.

“It’s fine.” He smiled at me. “You take your time.” I shut the cubicle door – fast – and then mulled over the thought of whether he’d still be there when I reopened it.

I’ve considered this incident and considered it again, yet I can’t seem to find an explanation for this man’s behaviour.

Did he genuinely have no sense that following a woman at close range – really close range – into the toilets and accompanying her to the cubicle door was a bit off? That it might make her feel uncomfortable, at best, or threatened, at worst?

I mean, I don’t know how these things work for boys. As a girl, you are constantly reminded to be alert to your own safety.

This can be explicit: being told to never walk home alone; to keep your house or car keys in your hand to ensure you can enter your vehicle or home without delay; to make sure a friend knows where you are while out on a date.

It can be implicit: did you hear what happened to her? Well, she was so drunk/she went off with a guy she didn’t know/she was walking home alone near the park.

Chastise, chastise, chastise. It gets wearing.

Resolving the issue of inclusivity has, and who’s surprised, been largely laid at the feet of women, with men escaping unscathed as per usual.

Social media is ablaze with admonishments and urging for women to be more accommodating, be nicer, change how they define themselves. Watch your language, don’t be exclusionary, gladly give up, as in this case, your toilets to make other people feel more comfortable.

What we never hear is a call to men to mind their behaviour, think about how they define themselves or how they conduct themselves.

The number of men you come across who confidently tell women they must quietly accept changes to their spaces and places without considering what they and their fellow men might do, what helpful changes they might make, is dispiriting.

With regards the guys hanging out in the cubicles-only toilets and my unwelcome toilet buddy, I don’t suggest any of them had any sinister motivations.

But they clearly were giving no thought whatsoever to how their presence in a space that was formerly women-only, and how their behaviour in that space, might make others feel.

Why would they?

There is no relentless hold on public discourse that nags men to behave differently, put others first, be accommodating. At International Women’s Day there was op-ed upon op-ed about how women must do better and work harder to be as inclusive as possible.

So what say you, men?

Surely it’s obvious that cubicle-only spaces are going to predominantly be used by women and by people who don’t feel comfortable or safe in the area where there are urinals.

So why, as a man, when you have the choice of going into any space you please, would you choose to use the one where your presence might be a problem?

Probably because you’re not used to having to check yourself and second-guess your actions.

A male friend bristled when I raised this with him. Because he has no ill intent and would never dream of any ill intent, he’s offended at the notion other people might be intimidated by him.

That’s not uncommon but is this an adequate response to a problem that is caused by men? Of course not.

It’s not personal. But it’s a fact that women are at threat of male violence, the women in that toilet with you might be recovering from trauma. It doesn’t matter if you’re a nice guy or not, you’re a guy.

In fact, if you’re such a nice guy I’d question why you’re hanging about in toilets you know will be mainly populated by women.

A friend told me about being in cubicle-only toilets when a chap came in and looked under each of the stall doors to see if any were free. Not cool, lads.

If we’re sharing our spaces now, you have to step up. If you want women to be decent hosts, try to be the perfect guests.

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