Everyone should be aware of how they take up space on public transit
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
As I am writing this, I sit with my knees spread far apart, or in a position many refer to as “manspreading.” It’s actually quite comfortable and I don’t blame men for doing it. I don’t think manspreading is as big an issue as some make it out to be, but still, it’s important to be aware of how you take up your space on public transportation. Sitting with your legs spread out so that you take up more than one seat is not the politest way to position yourself in a public place.
I find it hard to believe that the reason men sit like this is to assert dominance or because of patriarchal power dynamics, as some suggest. I think it’s simply because it’s more comfortable. Cisgender men have dicks, and as a consequence it’s uncomfortable for them to sit with their legs crossed or knees together.
Some individuals and even local governments have heavily protested the act of manspreading. In Madrid, manspreading on public transit is banned altogether. In my opinion, this doesn’t even attempt to understand the real reason men sit like this, nor does it solve the problem. Rather, I think it just creates more issues by demonizing men. Not all men sit in this manner, plus some women even sit like this. It’s not a gendered problem—some people are just assholes.
At the same time, it’s not fair to vilify all men who sit in a manspread position. Most probably don’t even realize they’re doing it. I know after a long day on your commute home, you just want to let it all hang out. I have nothing against anyone who prefers to sit with their legs open. With that being said, I also think you have to be conscious of how the space you occupy in public may affect others. I agree that some people tend to overstep their boundaries.
We shouldn’t just blame men for taking up space on public transit. Women are sometimes also guilty of taking up an extra seat—for example, with their bags (I’m even guilty of this). I don’t see it as a gendered problem—it’s a spatial awareness and courtesy on public transit problem. Before you take up extra space with your legs or your bags, make sure that you are not taking up anyone else’s space.