Manspreading or man-sitting or ballrooming is the practice of men sitting in public transport with legs wide apart, thereby covering more than one seat. Both this posture and the use of the neologism "manspreading" have occasioned some internet criticism and debates in the US, UK, Turkey, and Canada. The public debate began when an anti-manspreading campaign started on the social media website Tumblr in 2013; the term appeared a year later. OxfordDictionaries.com added the word "manspreading" in August 2015. Use of the term has been criticized as "a caricature of feminism" and the practice has been juxtaposed with examples of women taking up excessive space in public spaces with bags.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in the New York metropolitan area and Sound Transit of Seattle instituted poster campaigns encouraging respectful posture when other passengers have to stand due to crowding on buses and trains. Transport officials in Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington D.C. have not noted complaints against manspreading in particular. A representative of the Toronto Transit Commission stated they were unaware of complaints against manspreading, but did cite complaints against other etiquette problems, including taking up extra seats with handbags. The MTA campaign, which criticised many behaviors such as leaning on poles and applying make-up, used the slogan "Dude, stop the spread please!" Since 2017 taking more than one seat is forbidden by Madrid Municipal Transport Company. In some cases, people who find manspreading offensive have taken to photographing manspreading, and posting those images on the Internet.
The criticism and campaigns against manspreading have been counter-criticized for not addressing similar behavior by women, such as taking up adjacent seats with bags, or "she-bagging." The controversy surrounding manspreading has been described by equity feminist Cathy Young as "pseudo feminism – preoccupied with male misbehavior, no matter how trivial." Twitter-campaigns with the hashtag #manspreading have also been accompanied by hashtags like #shebagging. The practice of posting pictures of manspreading taken on subways, buses, and other modes of transportation online has been described as a form of public shaming. As an example, in New York, actor Tom Hanks was photographed on the subway, taking up two seats and criticized for it. He responded on a talk show, "Hey Internet, you idiot! The train was half empty! It was scattered – there was plenty of room!"
The Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE), a Canadian men's rights group, has been critical of campaigns against manspreading by transit authorities. The CAFE has argued that it is "physically painful for men to close their legs" and that campaigns against manspreading is comparable to "[forcing] women to stop breast feeding on busses (sic) or trains...". Commentators in media have made similar arguments regarding the need for men to spread their legs to properly accommodate their testicles.
Sitting more expansively may signal dominance and sexual attractiveness for males. Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk, a UC Berkeley post-doctorate researcher recently published studies that found spreading out legs and arms is more sexually attractive when males do it. Using photographs, she found that images of men spreading out got 87% of interest among female viewers. Expansive poses were not as effective for women, who appeared "vulnerable" and "starfish-like" according to other researchers. On the other hand, some analysts have found that women sitting cross-legged may be perceived positively as an expression of femininity. The opposite seating posture to manspreading, leg-crossing, is often viewed as effeminate.
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