Manspreading: do men need to occupy more when sitting?
The term "manspreading" is relatively new , and in fact it was not popularized until well into 2014, according to the Google search data. However, the problem referred to has been known for years: a certain tendency on the part of many men to occupy much more than necessary in the seats of public transport by force of opening or stretching their legs a lot.
In fact, already in the 70s a feminist photographer named Marianne Wex dedicated herself to documenting this phenomenon, and the result was a widely documented book called Let's Take Back Our Space: Female and Male Language as a Result of Patriarchal Structures.
However, when it comes to explaining why there is manspreading, the gender and feminist perspective is not the only one, and to this day the cause of this trend of male behavior is debated . Now ... What do we know about manspreading so far?
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To what extent is a problem widespread?
As far as is known, manspreading is something very common, so much so that it is normal to find at least one case in each train car. A recent study conducted with a sample of more than 5000 people who used public transport during different days of the week and hours of the day, more than a quarter of men (26%) exercised manspreading, while this percentage fell to less than 5% in the case of women .
In addition, that same investigation concluded that even those men who stretched their legs in the absence of other passengers sitting next to them tended not to correct their position when the car was filled with people and the seats disappeared.
Interestingly, in addition, the age group in which men were most likely to fall into manspreading is the one between 30 and 49 years old . At younger ages the percentage was somewhat lower, and much lower in age groups of people over 50 years.
The campaigns against manspreading and the increasingly widespread use of this term do not seem to have served to eliminate this behavior. What could this resistance to change be due to? Is it a cultural problem, or a biological one that will not go through many propaganda civic campaigns that are used in the form of disciplinary signs?
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The possible causes of manspreading
Obviously, many of the proposals that try to offer an explanation about manspreading have a more or less clear political background. For example, as we have seen, feminist authors such as Marianne Wex indicate that manspreading could be another one of those small privileges reserved for men ; in this case, to claim for themselves more space in certain situations, for their own comfort and to the detriment of the welfare of others.
Thus, this behavior would be at the same time a way to express its power, which from a feminist point of view would be linked to patriarchy , and a privilege that allows you to feel more comfortable.
On the other hand, entities critical of feminism, such as the Canadian Association for Equality (an organization linked to the Rights of Man Movement) have come to argue that for men it is potentially painful to sit with their legs parallel.
In a less politicized (though equally politicizing) way, researchers Ash Bennington and Mark Skinner suggest that manspreading is a biological issue that has to do with the fact that men have much wider shoulders than the hips in comparison to women.
According to this reasoning, the space left between the knees should correspond to that left between the shoulders , which means that, by default, the minimum angle between the legs is much greater. In addition, opening the legs would be a way to prevent them from occupying a lot of space just in front, where the corridor of the wagons often runs.
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Biology or cultural phenomenon?
In short, there is still no clear cause to explain the phenomenon of manspreading, although it is known that it exists, It is very present in the day to day of those who use public transport , and that is something significantly generalized in men.
Now, if it is something caused only by the own biology of the bodies or by the cultural norms and the behaviors learned throughout the generations is something that we will probably know more in a few years, as more is being researched about of this recently baptized behavior. Probably, in its origin we will find a mix of biology and cultural learning normalized over centuries and centuries. After all, it is very difficult to find a clear space between sex and gender.