If you’re a woman, you have probably tried to make yourself small at some point, perhaps without even realizing it. We’re socialized to cross our legs, keep our hands folded in our laps, and take up as little physical or conversational space as possible when we’re in public because life is garbage.
Guys? Not so much. Having been a long-time user of public transit, I’ve come across more than my fair share of men taking up one extra seat on either side of them because they just can’t keep their damn knees together and let other people live. Men aren’t socialized to be submissive and small, and so we all get to experience the blessing of what the internet calls “manspreading.”
Manspreading is the super fun guy habit of sitting with their knees wide open in places where it’s honestly just not nice to take up a ton of space, like on trains or buses. One fed-up woman recently decided to push back by doing some manspreading of her own. Of course, men (who are totally not at all sensitive except for when they fight with women online about everything under the sun) flipped out online when they saw it. Obviously.
IMakeGoodLifeChoices on Tumblr is causing quite a stir. Here’s what she had to say in her own words.
I’ve begun silently fighting back against jerks on the subway who sit as spread out as possible. Basically, I match your stance.
This guy was sitting on the train with his knees splayed and his hands on the seat to either side of him. So I slowly backed up into the seat next to him forcing him to either move his hand or have me sit on it. Then I spread my knees equally wide and stuck my elbows out just as far.
Manspreading Es la práctica de algunos hombres de sentarse con las piernas abiertas en el transporte público, en una sala de espera… lo que hacen es que ocupan mas espacio en el asiento invadiendo el espacio de quien este a su lado. Relato real en sala de espera de una E-Tienda en Enero 2018.- 🗣 Sr. sentado a mi lado, practicando “Manspreading” rozándome todo el tiempo con su pierna… 🗣 – Sr. Por favor puede dejar de rozarme y cerrar las piernas? . -No puedo tengo los huevos grandes. Con tono prepotente . -Usted tendrá los huevos grandes pero la educación muy pequeña! #Manspreading #Maleducado #MiEspacio #Respeto
It’s amazing how uncomfortable this makes men.
Eventually, he closed his knees more (so I closed mine.) The ladies across from me noticed this silent warfare and were slightly confused. When he finally got off the train and I sat like a “lady” they realized what I did and grinned at me.
Yep. This is my new thing to do on the subway.
She quickly got a nod of solidarity from another woman sick of the whole deal.
You know why most guys sit like that? It’s a body language signal known as “crotch display” and it’s used to show dominance/confidence. This is why guys get uncomfortable when women do this and also why women are told to “sit like a lady” — basically, without the crotch display. When women do it, they’re basically telling the dudes that they’re either stronger or on equal standing with them.
Then things took a male turn. Here’s a comment by mccoy-being-angry-at-things, which is honestly too fitting.
NO NO NO. We do not sit without (sic) legs spread because we want to sexually dominate the scene or whatever bullcrap you come up with. We sit like that because we have testicles that are fucking sensitive to heat and pressure, making it more comfortable to spread our legs. We close our legs when you “imitate” us because we realize you want more space and so we be polite and give it to you…Jesus! Not everything is the god damn patriarchy!”
Oddly, there was a way to say this without being an ass, but off you pop, mccoy-being-angry at things!
Here’s another smattering of comments from the greatest thinkers of our time:
And how is this worse than women who use their bag to prevent guys from sitting next to them?
Just checked. Sitting splayed, home alone, dominating my cats.
I hate the internet. Finally, however, one person chimed in and pointed this out, which is a key distinction:
Guys, just hear us out. Maybe don’t sit like the hellhound in the photo right above this. He is overestimating the size of his package by a long shot, and if you don’t want people to think you’re doing the same, maybe just give people enough room to sit down.