What is it?
Manspreading is a term used to describe men sitting in public transport with legs overly stretched apart, often overlapping onto the next seat and causing discomfort for those sitting around them. The term was coined by feminist bloggers analysing anti-social behaviour on public transport. And whilst this term wlas only coined in the 21st century, it’s likely that this alpha male behaviour has been around for a long time. In the UK this issue appears to remain largely unspoken about beyond the grumbles and grunts of women on tubes. In New York, however, there was a subway advert reading ‘Dude, stop the spread, please. It’s a space issue.’ Since the advert, two men were even arrested for the offence on New York subways!
— Monica L. Mercado (@monicalmercado) February 27, 2017
Across the world, commuters are known to go so far as to post photographs of culprits on Twitter or Instagram. The photos posted on Twitter go to show the almost comical amount of space that some of the men regularly take up up public transport.
Although this issue is still largely ignored, it’s entered the public eye recently due to celebrity culprits such as Game of Thrones star Richard Madden who was targeted for his excessive use of space on the Bakerloo line.
Is it a real thing: girls?
The majority of women are well aware of this issue, and although they may not know of the term manspreading, they will have experienced feeling overly cramped as a result of a man’s posture.
Hannah from the University of Birmingham states that “I understand men have longer legs, but there is a difference between sitting comfortably and taking the micky. It’s as if they feel like they own the public space around them and it’s their “human right” to sit how they want. This is just a typical situation in which they’re using patriarchy to gain an advantage.”
— Andrea Corrigan (@justandrea) February 24, 2017
Alice from UCL, however, argues that maybe women only sit more modestly because of their clothing styles. For instance, you can’t modestly sit with your legs open in a skirt or a dress. Equally, she suggests that men often feel uncomfortable or even mocked for sitting a typically feminine pose like crossing legs which is clearly a more conservative posture. Alice also underlined the annoying habits of women on the underground, such as talking too loudly or putting bags on seats. The difference is, however, is that it’s a lot more acceptable to politely ask a woman to move her bag than to ask a man to sit more appropriately and close his legs which is considered a real social faux pas.
Is it a real thing: boys?
Unsurprisingly, the majority of the boys I interviewed were new to this “concept” and a bit more defensive when it came to their opinions.
Jonny from Leeds admitted he did sit like that, but that no one had ever told him that it was an issue, which in his mind confirmed it wasn’t an actual problem in society.
Pete from Lancaster blamed his height for his posture, stating that “girls should try living with such long limbs for a day, they’ll soon understand the real annoyance in life.”
However, Josh from Sheffield Hallam said that his mum had encouraged him to sit more appropriately from a young age, teaching him that occupying so much space was rude and inconsiderate for both sexes. He says that it’s only until you properly think about the concept of manspreading that you notice it all around you. A mature response from Josh I’d say.
There are undoubtedly varied opinions on whether manspreading is a real issue in society, its causes and the deeper issues it stems from. And perhaps men will point to this article as an example of “womansplaining” about an issue females don’t understand given our different genitalia. Nevertheless, if you would consider yourself a manspreading denier then I’d encourage you to have a look around next time you’re on public transport, maybe you’ll shock yourself.
Men seem to excuse themselves, claiming that due to their larger frame, genitalia, and simple “science” that this posture is a necessity rather than a comfort. But let’s be serious now, is this “science” or is this a societal habit rooted in male dominance and privilege that is currently being far too overlooked?