It is something that everyone who has ridden public transportation has been faced with. It is an irritant that haunts public transport riders worldwide. It is the global phenomenon of manspreading.
According to CNN, “Manspreading, in case you didn’t know, is when men spread their legs with no regard to others’ personal space.” Manspreading occurs when passengers take up more than one seat, and force other people to either stand, or squeeze, uncomfortably into the small space next to them.
Anywhere in the world that has some system of public transportation has people guilty of committing this act, but some cities like Madrid in Spain are starting to step up, and take serious action against manspreading.
“This month, public transportation officials in the Spanish capital are telling passengers to, literally, keep their knees together instead of letting them drift apart,” according to The New York Times.
Signs, which tell people what they can and cannot do while riding, are typically posted on public transportation vehicles. In Madrid, manspreading has been added to the signs to let people know that it is unacceptable on the bus and train.
“The new campaign in Madrid employs an image of a little red figure with legs splayed, taking up two seats, with a slash mark across it, the universal symbol for “don’t do this.” It is part of a lineup of other common antisocial breaches of commuting etiquette, such as smoking and propping feet on seats, that are discouraged in a small, enclosed space shared by dozens of people,” The New York Times reports.
The Municipal Transport Company announced this campaign in an effort to keep civility on public transportation, according to The New York Times. The campaign against manspreading was inspired by Microrrelatos Feministas, a women’s rights collective, which started an online petition.
Although anyone can be a culprit in a case of manspreading, usually men are guilty of sitting with their legs spread apart on public transportation.
According to Microrrelatos Feministas, “It is not a question of bad education, but just as women have been taught to sit with our legs close together (as if we had to hold something between our knees) men have conveyed hierarchy and territoriality, as if the space belonged to them.”
However, Madrid and Spain are not alone in this effort to halt manspreading. In cities across the world, people are making efforts to make the rides on public transportation comfortable and civil. New York City called for an end to the manspreading situation on its subway system back in 2014.
According to The New York Times, “In Japan, the Tokyo Metro’s illustrated subway posters suggest manspreading is an etiquette breach.” In Pennsylvania, the “Dude, It’s Rude“ campaign aims to reform passenger habits of taking up more than one space on the subway.
The world is taking action against the act of manspreading, which forces so many people into uncomfortable corners each day on public transportation. With the efforts of many cities across the globe, hopefully buses and trains can, in the future, become a more comfortable place for everyone.
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