"'Excuse me,'" I said, using my bony ass to crush his thigh."
June 4, 2015 9:28 AM   Subscribe

 
This is enough of a thing to have a name?
posted by Ratio at 9:32 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


rtha had a story about a more subtle approach she saw once which I have bookmarked for my own potential use.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


This is enough of a thing to have a name?

.....Have you been living in a forest or something?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [127 favorites]


is this lavaballing? did lavaballing change names?
posted by boo_radley at 9:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


That's awesome and I commend her.
posted by jeather at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


"In the last month, I have sat on 12 men. "

There we go.
posted by boo_radley at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ratio: Yup, and it's even come up here a few times before, although I think MeFites' preferred nomenclature is "lavaballing"
posted by Jacqueline at 9:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sitting next to people with no to very little sense of body space is one of my less favorite things about riding public transit (and another great thing about getting out on my bike, all alone and free on my bike seat.) But no public transit experience out here in the west is quite as awful as the days I rode the NY subway, which proved for good and all that putting a lot of strangers all together in a space too small for them really brings out the worst in everyone.
posted by bearwife at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2015


did lavaballing change names?

I certainly hope so, because this is way more descriptive and useful.
posted by aramaic at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is enough of a thing to have a name?

#MicroAppelations
posted by topynate at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


This....is the best.

It's true that I have been utterly spoiled by Minnesota, because even when I have been on a crowded bus or train here, I have rarely observed manspreading. With minor exception, even surly teenagers move their bags or yield their seats to people in need, often with alacrity and good grace. When I lived in Chicago, it was an entirely different thing. I think it has something to do with how entrenched train culture is - here it's new and limited. And also, there's a class divide in terms of who uses public transit, and I have noticed that working class norms around seat sharing are better, possibly because everybody is fucking tired.
posted by Frowner at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


Ratio: “This is enough of a thing to have a name?”

I take it you don't take a train or subway very often. They are a huge thing, in every city with a subway or bus that I've ever lived in. Enough of a thing, as boo_radley notes, to have several names. I always heard them called "lavaballers," but "manspreaders" works, too. It's always guys who have their damned legs spread who take up many seats.
posted by koeselitz at 9:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thanks for posting. This is great. I've learned to spread my legs and touch knees, if necessary, to get my own space. That usually gets the guy sitting next to me to move back into his space. Not sure I'm ready to sit on someone. But I'm thrilled to know someone is actually doing this.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:39 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I use "manspreading" over "lavaballing," but whatever you call it, it's ridiculous. And the MRAs who tumble out of the woodwork to defend it are ridiculous.
posted by Kitteh at 9:39 AM on June 4, 2015 [24 favorites]


I always imagine asking, "Can I see your leg's metro card?...No, that's your metro card. Where's your leg's metro card?...Well then move it, dickweed, you're taking up two seats." Then I chicken out and stand. Kudos to her for really going for it (though I'd be so scared of being stabbed or something).

(For clarity: I am a man, but not of the "the world owes me all the space...ALL THE SPACE." ilk.)
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:39 AM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


it's enough of a thing that there's actually official programs to get guys to knock it the fuck off.
posted by nadawi at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2015 [20 favorites]


There are many downsides to commuting by car, as I do now, but boy I don't miss this aspect of commuting by public transit.
posted by rtha at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I totally sit on people. In fact if someone is manspreading, I sit by/on him on purpose. Or someone who has their bag on the seat. You are rude & you will have justice!!
posted by dame at 9:45 AM on June 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


I like this idea in theory, but feel it would backfire against the creepy dudes who then take it as an opportunity to grope.
posted by schroedinger at 9:46 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


What hankie color advertises an interest in manspreading?
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2015 [24 favorites]


I once saw a woman, in probably her 60s, without flinching, sit directly on top of a bag someone had left on the seat next to them. I wanted to give her a high-five, but I didn't.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


the MRAs who tumble out of the woodwork to defend it are ridiculous.

Oh god, yes. "My balls are hot and it is uncomfortable!"

My new response: "Wear a skirt. Skirts will allow air to circulate and your fireballs will be cooler. What? You don't want to? Then this is not about heat."
posted by corb at 9:48 AM on June 4, 2015 [83 favorites]


Ugh, manspreading and people putting their purses on empty seats on public transportation are two of the things that drive me craziest; I think it's kind of sociopathic (yes I am exaggerating for comic effect but not much).

People's belief that their desire not to sit next to another person on PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION trumps the other person's desire to sit at all drives me absolutely bonkers and when someone demonstrates this belief by manspreading or by taking up an empty seat in some other way it makes it clear they don't think other people really matter.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:49 AM on June 4, 2015 [20 favorites]


"I use "manspreading" over "lavaballing," but whatever you call it, it's ridiculous. And the MRAs who tumble out of the woodwork to defend it are ridiculous."

When has that ever happened?
posted by komara at 9:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [24 favorites]


Tokyo Metro has some great posters that help reinforce subway and train etiquette. Here's one for "manspreading."

About 20 years ago I got scolded by an older many for crossing my legs on the train. I never did that again, and I try to teach my kids proper subway and train etiquette when we are in Japan.

My biggest pet peeves back in Canada are: wearing your backpack on the train or bus. Proper etiquette? Take it off and place on the floor between your feet. If you are sitting, place your backpack on your lap.

People who use a seat to store their stuff is another pet peeve.

People who put their goddamn shoes on the seat is another pet peeve. It's barbaric.

That said, even as a guy I would never attempt to correct behaviour. Too much opportunity for conflict.

Kudos to the woman who sits on men in order to claim space. I might say that there are some men who might enjoy the experience.
posted by Nevin at 9:51 AM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Between lavaballing and that moment when you see the four guys approaching you four abreast taking up the entire sidewalk and you know from the type that they're not going to make room for you, I often think the only way you're going to get even a simulacrum of ordinary courtesy is if you're carrying a running chainsaw.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:52 AM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


"I use "manspreading" over "lavaballing," but whatever you call it, it's ridiculous. And the MRAs who tumble out of the woodwork to defend it are ridiculous."

I was reading some men's rights centric conversation somewhere (I think maybe /r/mensrights) and someone had the temerity to suggest that this was a real thing and people went insane. One guy said, basically: "Are you saying you think it's more likely that men have been socialized to do this than that they are built to make it physically impossible to do otherwise? Does that make sense? Are you denying [some insane and probably made up fact about male pelvises]."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:53 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh no, for people walking abreast, you just stop. Just stop and smile and they will go around you.
posted by dame at 9:54 AM on June 4, 2015 [25 favorites]


...I always thought as an able bodied young person who literally sits down all damn day, I should always stand on the subway even if seats are available.

I mean standing for fifteen minutes twice a day is the closest I get to exercise these days.
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2015 [21 favorites]


[A few comments deleted; elliptical punching-down/punching-up jokes (?) are not helpful.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:57 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sitting with my knees close together is uncomfortable for me, not because of balls but because of leg muscles. Still, you can't inflict your own issues on someone else in a public space and having social anxiety like mine makes avoiding any sort of confrontation a high priority. Life isn't always going to cater to your comfort! Main reason I barely ever go to the movies anymore is I don't want to face the choice of leg touching a stranger or being in pain while trying to enjoy a movie.

I'm worried women who try this are going to end up hurt though. If someone sat on me my reaction would be to think they are crazy and shove them off, not figure out why they are doing it.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:58 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also annoying are when there are rows of seats, and people sit down in the seat by the aisle, leaving the seat by the window empty. You're not fooling anyone, you are trying to have those two seats to yourself.
posted by rustcrumb at 9:58 AM on June 4, 2015 [20 favorites]


it's enough of a thing that there's actually official programs to get guys to knock it the fuck off.

'Twas ever thus:
The New York City Transit Museum is exploring this long and quirky history of subway etiquette Tuesday night as part of its AfterHours program series. The event will touch on how the current ads were created, and will look back at some of the old campaigns that used to plaster train walls. And not surprisingly, cellphones aside, what ticks us off hasn't changed all that much. Manspreaders of today, meet the "space hogs" of yore — along with the door-blockers, feet-resters, and litterbugs.
Personally, I think they should bring back Etti-Cat.
posted by zamboni at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2015 [27 favorites]


I applaud her but half the time the response I get to doing this myself is the guy pressing their thigh into mine the whole train ride (no matter how much I attempt to squeeze my own thighs together.) That's much worse than standing and I'll want to say 'screw it' and go back to standing, but then it becomes a question of being too proud to give up my seat and 'let them win'.
posted by matcha action at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


yes. the article i linked included that.
posted by nadawi at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Etti-Cat is primed to return in our cat-saturdated media landscape
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm 31 weeks pregnant, a daily public transport user, and this article is timely. Yes, shocked (male) student, I will absolutely sit on your bag should you not fucking move it, pronto...
posted by threetwentytwo at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


It used to be that the cool way to ride the subway was as a "strap hanger".
posted by chavenet at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2015


Ugh, this guy sat next to me this morning who was a manspreader and also HAD A COLD. NO.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah, public transit and their itty bitty seats made for children and tiny little people who fit in them. I'm only 6'4" and 210, but those seats are not meant for people to sit in.

The first time my wife and I rode the bus together, she took a seat, and I stood in the aisle next to her. She said I should next to her, and I said I wouldn't fit. She told me that was crazy talk, so I took the seat next to her. The seats are close together front to back, so absent a hinge in my femur, my legs are at ~45degree angle, the right knee well into her space and the left out into the aisle. The next stop, someone came shambling down the aisle, so to make room, I swung my leg up and over the seat ahead of me. It wasn't very comfortable.

She has never asked me to sit next to her on the bus again. I usually stand next to her, even on an empty bus.
The sidways seats are a bit better. But they are so close to the floor - my knees are usually above my diaphragm if I have them together, and this is really uncomfortable - all my weight is on a few square inches in my ass and it's hard on my back.

I don't ride public transportation in any situation I can avoid it. Flying is almost worse. Global warming schmobal schwarming, I don't care. I'll ride in my car, because I fit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:01 AM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


This is why we need to bring back clothes that bristle with pointed studs and clothespins.

I wondered why that look became popular among New York punks. I wonder if making sure you could sit on the subway might have encouraged it.
posted by maxsparber at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is why we need to bring back clothes that bristle with pointed studs and clothespins.

Or pants that scream when someone's leg touches them.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:04 AM on June 4, 2015 [47 favorites]


I only spread out on the subway if I'm eating, and even then only if it's a buffet.
posted by jonmc at 10:05 AM on June 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


Ah, public transit and their itty bitty seats made for children and tiny little people who fit in them. I'm only 6'4" and 210, but those seats are not meant for people to sit in.

I have a friend who is very tall, and he will sometimes perch on bus seats to avoid having his legs blocking the aisle. It looks ridiculous (and it puts his shoes on the seat), but he claims it's fairly comfortable, even for a 40+ minute bus ride.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:07 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are you absolutely certain your friend is not a secret gargoyle?
posted by poffin boffin at 10:08 AM on June 4, 2015 [81 favorites]


Likewise, no one cares when they do it on an empty train.

Yeah I manspread any time I'm on a mostly-empty train because it makes me appear larger to predators.
posted by griphus at 10:08 AM on June 4, 2015 [72 favorites]


[A few more comments deleted. If you wish this post were about something else, feel free to pass it by.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:09 AM on June 4, 2015 [17 favorites]


You're not fooling anyone, you are trying to have those two seats to yourself.

That's not always true. I am happy to let someone sit next to the window but it makes me claustrophobic, especially since my legs are long enough that my knees hit the seat, so I will be chilling here on the aisle. But I will smile & make room should you like to sit down.
posted by dame at 10:09 AM on June 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


Yeah, I try not to put anything next to me on the seat of public transit, but generally people carrying bags/backpacks will put them on their laps when they see someone approaching, looking for a seat. Manspreaders often do not, not if you had a pregnant woman or a disabled person standing right in front of them.
posted by Kitteh at 10:11 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


as a woman, i will sometimes put my stuff on the seat to next me AS LONG AS THERE ARE OTHER SEATS so that some weirdo creep doesn't sit next to me and try to be all creepy.

however, i would not do this if there were very few seats left and i keep an eye and will put my bag on my lap or floor if i see there's not much space.
posted by sio42 at 10:11 AM on June 4, 2015 [31 favorites]


Oh no, for people walking abreast, you just stop. Just stop and smile and they will go around you.

A smoker friend tells me that holding a lit cigarette pointedly at face level works too.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


As a woman who takes public transit daily, I laughed out loud with delight when I read this. I can't wait to use the passive aggressive "excuse me" and manic smile.
posted by chatongriffes at 10:12 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


If you spend a few minutes every day, maybe at toothbrushing times, practicing a really creepy awful Charles Manson smile in the mirror it will serve you well throughout your lifetime.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2015 [56 favorites]


I think the manic smile is key. It makes them unsure if you might be actually ready to start a-killin'.
posted by emjaybee at 10:13 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


The important thing is to show a lot of teeth and have your eyes be either absolutely dead or filled with bloodlust.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:14 AM on June 4, 2015 [28 favorites]


.....Have you been living in a forest or something?

Heh... sort of. I don't use public transit as much as I used to, and when I did, my daily bus/train combo was usually jammed with people, every seat, and standing-room only in the aisles. I plead ignorance on this one.
posted by Ratio at 10:14 AM on June 4, 2015


The first person who comes up with a workable prototype for taser-pants is going to make a fortune in New York!
posted by AGameOfMoans at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


as a woman, i will sometimes put my stuff on the seat to next me AS LONG AS THERE ARE OTHER SEATS so that some weirdo creep doesn't sit next to me and try to be all creepy.

Yeah, I will do this. If seats start to be scarce I'll start beckoning other women towards me. But it's absolutely a self-protective measure. No man has, to date, said he's lavaballing because he's afraid of the ladies.
posted by corb at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


The important thing is to show a lot of teeth...

Preferably a few dozen on a necklace.
posted by griphus at 10:15 AM on June 4, 2015 [40 favorites]


I don't regularly ride public transit, but as a smaller-than-average guy this kind of thing happens to me all the time on airplanes. I'm usually stuck in the middle seat between two other guys, much larger than me, both of whom spread their legs and elbows as far apart as possible in to my seat space. I have to sit there with my arms glued against my sides and knees pressed together, vainly trying to read and getting jostled every time one of the other guys so much as breathes.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:16 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


as a woman, i will sometimes put my stuff on the seat to next me AS LONG AS THERE ARE OTHER SEATS so that some weirdo creep doesn't sit next to me and try to be all creepy.

For which you will get accused of gender profiling or some other nonsense, because how dare you assume strange men are creepy (the "not all men" is sometimes silent but always implied).
posted by zombieflanders at 10:16 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


When I lived in Chicago, it was an entirely different thing. I think it has something to do with how entrenched train culture is - here it's new and limited. And also, there's a class divide in terms of who uses public transit, and I have noticed that working class norms around seat sharing are better, possibly because everybody is fucking tired.

I've noticed this too--I almost never see manspreaders on the bus in my city, which has a shitty public transit system which is mostly used by people who work at the local university and working-class people. On vacations to other cities where I was using exclusively public transit to get around, though.... yeah, saw more of them then. Also things like shuttles in airports.
posted by sciatrix at 10:19 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered what one of these guys with his knees apart would do if you simply stood between them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:19 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


[A few more comments deleted; "oh so now it's a crime..." isn't a great way to engage with this.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2015 [16 favorites]


A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person: 1. He or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same;
posted by Jahaza at 10:21 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't think of anything more likely to encourage being sexually harassed than for me to do that, George. I mean, I've had dudes spend the entire trip trying to crush me with their thighs and/or slowly trying to creep their hands closer to my ass on the subway when I'm just sitting here as it is, I'm not getting any closer to their nasty-ass balls or into grabbing distance than I absolutely fucking have to.
posted by sciatrix at 10:22 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's weird because with all the jerky train starts and stops, and the zooming precariously around curves and whatnot, you'd think that guys would want to sit in a way that protects their balls, not a way that exposes them to possible heavy falling backpack injury.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:22 AM on June 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


The important thing is to show a lot of teeth and have your eyes be either absolutely dead or filled with bloodlust.

and they say the Army gave me nothing.
posted by corb at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2015 [48 favorites]


My favorite is when people start arguing loudly about seats on the train during rush hour, leading to stopping the train so the police can break things up, delaying everything for fifteen minutes.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2015


I'm just here to point you all towards the best rebuttal-epony comment on this subject ever.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


We’re all in this together, and if everyone agreed to say I’m sorry or Excuse me when it counted, the world be a little less of a seven-billion person frat party hurdling through space.
Nice article, thanks for posting.
posted by theora55 at 10:23 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


> I can't think of anything more likely to encourage being sexually harassed than for me to do that

Yeah, I meant if someone like me were to do it, really. Or some even larger and less hygenic fellow.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:24 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you spend a few minutes every day, maybe at toothbrushing times, practicing a really creepy awful Charles Manson smile in the mirror it will serve you well throughout your lifetime.

I think the manic smile is key. It makes them unsure if you might be actually ready to start a-killin'.


The best way to get people to avoid sitting next to you is to look at incoming seatseekers like you want to have a conversation with them. Nothing is worse than human interaction during your commute.
posted by srboisvert at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


you'd think that guys would want to sit in a way that protects their balls, not a way that exposes them to possible heavy falling backpack injury.

poffin boffin
, you are a fucking genius. Now I want that if I get on a train with a heavy backpack, to stand directly in front of the lavaballer and kind of swing it on my shoulder a little bit.
posted by corb at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Personally, I think they should bring back Etti-Cat.

I can perfectly imagine the common cat pose that would be used in a photo about lavaballing.

At least when humans splay their limbs out in all directions on the subway, it's not followed by "now this would be a great position to start licking my own butt!"
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm usually stuck in the middle seat between two other guys, much larger than me, both of whom spread their legs and elbows as far apart as possible in to my seat space.

Standard width seats on airplanes are ~16-18 inches. My shoulders are ~23 wide.

I usually take window seats, because the curvature of the plane means there are a few extra inches to lean into, and I spend the entire flight developing scoliosis so the sucker next to me can use the armrest.

My last flight, I got to my row, and the dude got up and he was just a bit bigger than me. We looked at each other, with that "god, this sucks - I would have preferred a screaming infant" face, and I said, "Flip to move?" I lost, and got seated next to a 4 year old, which was nice because he didn't care if I took both armrests.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is enough of a thing to have a name?

Existence is not the main criterion for whether concepts get names; virulence is. See also: "welfare queen," "death panels," "patriarchy," "razor blades in apples on Halloween."

(Some of these things exist, some don't, some do but are rare. But for a word to spread, all it needs is to be evocative of something, not for that something to be a real thing that requires a name. I think negative concepts have an advantage here (at least, the examples that came to mind above are all bad things); fear is a good motivator to remember and spread a concept.)
posted by Rangi at 10:25 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


The best way to get people to avoid sitting next to you is to look at incoming seatseekers like you want to have a conversation with them.

No, because if you are a lady then this means you want to have sex with that man and nothing you can do will dissuade him of this belief.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2015 [91 favorites]


Worth it for the Serial Mom reference alone. Great movie.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


In terms of bags, when I used to ride the bus I would put my bag on the seat next to me, just because having your backpack in your lap for 40 minutes gets really old. Then when someone got on I would pick it up to signify that I was OK with having a neighbor. That said, very rarely did people sit next to me, or anyone. The bus was usually 50% people sitting with no neighbor and 50% standers. Whether it's women not wanting to get closer to potential creepers or men with some kind of prickly sense of no homo, it seems like Americans just aren't comfortable sitting that close when they have any choice.

(Side note: I have hip problems that make it painful to sit scrunched in on public transit, so I just stand for the most part. Just not on the local buses where standing at least feels kind of dangerous).
posted by selfnoise at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2015


My favorite is when people start arguing loudly about seats on the train during rush hour, leading to stopping the train so the police can break things up, delaying everything for fifteen minutes.

Does this happen often? How incredibly childish to need Mr. Officer to mediate.
posted by topynate at 10:27 AM on June 4, 2015


it's enough of a thing that there's actually official programs to get guys to knock it the fuck off.

The thing I found super interesting about that piece was all the interviews with loud 'n' proud manspreaders. Like that fuck-knuckle who said he'd totally move his legs if asked... but not for anyone, just a hot woman or maybe an old person. Definitely no sexism here, just move along slowly...
posted by sciatrix at 10:27 AM on June 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


you'd think that guys would want to sit in a way that protects their balls, not a way that exposes them to possible heavy falling backpack injury.

Well the way most dudes' priorities are wired, "perform shitty dominance behavior display" is actually higher than "protect balls from injury."
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:27 AM on June 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


I've always wondered what one of these guys with his knees apart would do if you simply stood between them.

I did that once. He asked me for a blowjob. I asked him if he wanted a cockpunch.

I get so tired of "Wah, wah, my balls get too hot/too squished" or "But my legs are too long!" or the bazillion and nine other reasons people insist on being assholes on public transportation. Clue the fuck up - your balls/legs/backpack/purse/shopping bag are your issue to deal with. Please deal with them in a manner that does not preclude three other people from sitting down just so YOU can be comfy.

I have RA. That means I often NEED a seat on the bus. No, I don't "look sick", that doesn't mean I'm not. If I sit with my knees jammed together for too long, I end up with hips that are so sore and inflamed (because of the arthritis) that it hurts to stand up and walk, and I hobble like a little old lady for hours. I STILL tuck in so people can sit down, and I will shove back as hard as I can if you try to smash me up against the window or shove your leg into mine. If you want to sprawl, hire a chauffered limo.
posted by MissySedai at 10:27 AM on June 4, 2015 [21 favorites]


The important thing is to show a lot of teeth and have your eyes be either absolutely dead or filled with bloodlust.

SEATS FOR THE BUS GOD!!!!!
BALLS FOR THE BLOOD THRONE!!!!!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2015 [47 favorites]


It is so inconsiderate, and something I have come to expect of my fellow Vancouverites because that's just how we roll here, we're all the exception. Other bushole behaviour: when you sit on the aisle seat of the 2 person bench with your purse, jacket, bag, or shopping bag on the inside seat, bonus points if you just chose to sit on the aisle for no goddamned reason at all. Also, fucking move to the back and don't stand in front of the doors unless you're getting off. It's like these people have never been on the bus before. There are signs and the driver says these exact things over and over again, how many hints do you need?

Anyways yeah, the spread leg thing, dudes, no. Fine on an empty bus I guess, but being aware of your surroundings is not too much to ask, yes really.
posted by Hoopo at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm the only person in the world with my particular public transit peeve. I fucking HATE it when women in my vicinity fuck with their hair, running their fingers through it, shaking it out, or as happened this week, picking off split ends and flicking them off her fingers on a bus that was so crowded I couldn't move away. I look at that shit and think, "How do I know you're not picking at head lice? If you put a bowl on your head, would you expect me to eat out of it later? Keep your germy grossness out of my airspace."

I know it's borderline paranoia, but I can't help it. It nauseates me.
posted by janey47 at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


from a previous conversation about lavaballing i said this, and i still stand by it :

i've often dreamed of creating a gang of women - the boogeywoman stern-faced suffragette from the anti-suffrage literature mixed with the feminazi of the 80s - like a hard core red hat society. we'd just go from train to bus to crowded hallway shrinking creeps with our laser eyes and gnashing teeth.
posted by nadawi at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


I once saw a squad of Jehova's Witnesses board a bus. They all uncloaked at the same time and worked their way through the bus, sitting down on every open seat with a passenger already there.

I'd never seen a bus empty so fast. (Methodists got here first.)
posted by davemee at 10:29 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Read this online today, thought of MeFi.
posted by Miko at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Surely this is just the sort of problem open carry was meant to solve. As noted etiquette maven Ted Nugent would be the first to tell you, an armed society is a polite society.
posted by TedW at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2015


Alternatively, you could ask yourself "What Would Furiosa Do?"

or Hothead Paisan, if you like rockin' it old school.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


The best way to get people to avoid sitting next to you is to look at incoming seatseekers like you want to have a conversation with them. Nothing is worse than human interaction during your commute.

There's always the nuclear option: don a Greenpeace t-shirt and carry a clipboard.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2015 [29 favorites]


They all uncloaked at the same time

I'm not sure what this means so I will now assume they all have that Predator light-bending technology and this is how all those copies of Watchtower show up in our mailroom seemingly by magic.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2015 [25 favorites]


Surely this is just the sort of problem open carry was meant to solve. As noted etiquette maven Ted Nugent would be the first to tell you, an armed society is a polite society.

Sadly it just led to everyone banning lady's hatpins because they were using them to stab bus creeps.
posted by corb at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


Surely this is just the sort of problem open carry was meant to solve.

Yeah, open carry will definitely solve a problem relating to men who perform dominance displays.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2015 [45 favorites]


I've vaguely dreamed about going down a subway car bringing male knees together and shouting gleefully "nutcracker!"

I'd never do it. But it does make me smile when I see a particularly egregious case of 90o knees.
posted by sciencegeek at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2015 [17 favorites]


Read this online today, thought of MeFi.

Yeah I saw it on Facebook and was shocked no one else had posted it yet. Usually when I see something and think of MeFi, someone has already beaten me to it.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Surely this is just the sort of problem open carry was meant to solve. As noted etiquette maven Ted Nugent would be the first to tell you, an armed society is a polite society.

Because escalating the threat of violence to myself by carrying a weapon is something I should have to do to catch a bus to work.

Can we fucking head off the pissing contests where it becomes "ooh but *I* would never be in that situation because *I* would be able to kung-fu and threaten my way out of a scary situation?" Because look, you can all beat me in a fight, I am pretty sure. Congrats, you win. I still want to be able to use public transit, so can we just try for basic politeness instead of a society ruled by fear?
posted by sciatrix at 10:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [57 favorites]


Hoopo, also, sitting in the seat facing any way other than forward. Do not lean back against me, muthafucka, if you want to lean back, face forward and lean back against the seat back! GRRRRR

Nevin, I am so totally in agreement with never crossing your legs on public transit, I wish I could make a sign and plaster it in all the buses here.
posted by janey47 at 10:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


What Would Furiosa Do?

Have the women concealed under the passenger compartment?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Be advised, dudes of the 2 train. This article has inspired me to be more courageous about sitting down.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought the term was "mansplaying"?

Anyway, yeah, apparently it's such a thing that there are at least three words to describe it.


I never cared for the word "lavaballing" though. Sounds more like, I don't know, an Xtreme sport.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


[One comment deleted; open carry jokes are all well and good but let's not actually go to the point of talking about shooting people even very rude people.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm usually stuck in the middle seat between two other guys, much larger than me, both of whom spread their legs and elbows as far apart as possible in to my seat space.

Oh damn. I really hope this isn't what people think I'm doing on airplanes. I literally cant put my legs together on a plane, they simply don't fit. My knees have to go in the space between seats in the row ahead because the only other option for me is to fly in the fetal position. I do make an effort to explain and show this if there's a person next to me that seems annoyed. But yeah, planes are ludicrously small considering you're not really supposed to get out of your seat. Coincidentally, this is also why it's so infurtiating that the emergency exit row seats can be purchased for a premium. Some 5'5" person having booked that up before me so they can fully recline doesn't really seem like an ideal outcome for anyone.
posted by Hoopo at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am completely mystified as to why people put up with people taking up more than two seats on a crowded train. I've seen people with feet or bags on the seats on rush hour trains, and rather than just ask them to move their feet or their stuff, other passengers will stand. I don't get it. In the dozens of times I've asked people to move, I've never once had anyone refuse to do so; the worst I've gotten is a few exasperated sighs, which I happily ignore. And I'm not threatening, either implicitly or explicitly; it just takes a polite "excuse me" and that's it, period, because people know there's no acceptable reason to take up two seats, one for you and one for your bag.

I myself will sometimes say "excuse me" and make people move even if there are empty seats elsewhere because get your shit out of the seat on a rush hour train, that's why.
posted by holborne at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


What Would Furiosa Do?

The idea that Furiosa wouldn't be driving herself to and from work in her War Rig is patently ridiculous.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:37 AM on June 4, 2015 [27 favorites]


When this is enough of a thing that it starts getting used to punish the malignant narcissists that populate most airplanes for using their bodies and luggage to take up more than their allotted space, I will lead the charge.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:38 AM on June 4, 2015


I just returned from a trip to Tokyo and I was struck by how polite the people are. No one takes up more space than they are entitled to. Probably because there isn't a lot of space.
posted by Gwynarra at 10:38 AM on June 4, 2015


Since I ride the NYC subway to work every day I started to actively observe the dudes sitting down for signs of aggressively spread legs (ASL). During rush hour it doesn't seem very common, but when the train isn't full of angsty people on their way to or from work it starts to manifest rapidly. How someone could feel OK with aggressively pushing their legs against a stranger's is beyond me.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:39 AM on June 4, 2015


it just takes a polite "excuse me" and that's it, period

did you read the article?
“Excuse me,” I said, standing in front of a thirtysomething guy with his legs spread so far, it looked like he was doing some sort of post-vasectomy physical therapy exercise. He ignored me.

As a woman, I am used to this, so I gestured to the seat and said excuse me again. Nothing. I checked and he wasn’t wearing headphones.
posted by nadawi at 10:40 AM on June 4, 2015 [43 favorites]


Because escalating the threat of violence to myself by carrying a weapon is something I should have to do to catch a bus to work.

.....I think the Ted-Nugent comment was sarcastic....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


did you read the article?

Yep, I read the article. I'm saying it's never happened to me. And it hasn't. So you know -- my lived experience, and all.
posted by holborne at 10:42 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am aggressive by nature and so am willing to directly ask and/or just sit down and assert my right to be there, but a lot of times that means pressing my leg against a strange man's leg, and I can never know if that dude is getting off on it. I really hate that.

Likewise, no one cares when they do it on an empty train.

I have actually heard that since this became a thing, cops have started ticketing people for doing it (it falls under taking up multiple seats, which is a ticketable offense) - but stupidly, because of the way the NYPD works, you are far more likely to get a ticket for something like that on a nearly empty train, just because that's when it's easier for cops to get on the train and look for people to ticket.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:43 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


you seemed to be saying that if people just said excuse me it would stop this, but that's not true. glad it worked for you. it doesn't work for most of us.
posted by nadawi at 10:44 AM on June 4, 2015 [33 favorites]


When this is enough of a thing that it starts getting used to punish the malignant narcissists that populate most airplanes for using their bodies and luggage to take up more than their allotted space, I will lead the charge.

Why wait? Lead it now!

I flew to Portland last year, and on my flight out of Chicago ended up between two very broad shouldered men. I myself am built like a linebacker. We could not all three comfortably sit upright. We worked it out so that we would change positions at half hour intervals - I would lean forward and rest my elbows on my tray, they would sit up, then we'd switch. It was a bad situation, but we managed to cooperate so we weren't all miserable.

Contrast with my flight out of Portland, where the guys on either side of me were NOT broad shouldered, but still managed to smash me throughout the flight with their splayed legs and leaning and taking up all of the armrests and having their crap strewn all over. Shoving back to get the space I was entitled to was EXHAUSTING.
posted by MissySedai at 10:45 AM on June 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


OK, how are there a mumbletyhundred comments ITT and yet no one has mentioned the mid-column appearance of a distinguished, silvery pug?! LOOK AT THE SOFT LEETLE EARS. I can't even get upset about manspreading because I'm so entranced by the florfy moosh-face. Who's a good puppy?!
posted by divined by radio at 10:46 AM on June 4, 2015 [27 favorites]


A really long time ago, I read about a study of pedestrian traffic that showed that men have complicated rules about stepping aside for each other, but pretty much never step aside for women, and that nobody notices it. At the time, I had a pretty decent sized commute in a decent sized city, on foot and public transportation, so I was able to do my own little test. I had never really noticed before that how often I'd step aside or go around men walking in straight lines. I had noticed the seat encroachment, because that is pretty un-missable, but hadn't realized how common it was.

So I tried to stop doing it. SO MANY MEN just barrelled right into me or actively fought me for half my seat. So so many of them. The worst, though, was when there was a Promise Keepers convention in town. There was an explosion of middle aged men in shorts and fanny packs just steamrolling around town, and man, I got so many of their cooties. But this is what really gets me: These are the same patronizing, 'chivalrous' shits who act all protective of women like they're responsible for our well being, telling us how their stupid gender roles are all designed for our best interests. And these guys, many of them twice my size, didn't even hesitate when I'd play pedestrian chicken with them. It never occurred to them that there was a scenario in which they would get out of my way, or even split the difference. They walked in straight lines directly into me. They'd sit down, aiming directly for space I was occupying, never even considering that I might not free it up before they landed. It was ridiculous.

Yeah, every now and again, when you claim your space, men will up their efforts and get more aggressive, but when I feel safe enough doing so, I just tell them to stop it, ideally in that same patient and indulgent tone men use on me all the time.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2015 [75 favorites]


it doesn't work for most of us

All I see in that article is that it didn't work for one person once, so not sure why you're more willing to extrapolate her experience than mine, but ok.
posted by holborne at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


holborne, if you'd like a second data point, "excuse me" does not always work for me either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2015 [32 favorites]


The city could make quite a lot of money if they had undercover agents just start ticketing these people wholesale.
posted by aramaic at 10:48 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


All I see in that article is that it didn't work for one person once, so not sure why you're more willing to extrapolate her experience than mine, but ok.

Just a wild guess here but it's probably because of the hundred odd comments in this thread agreeing with the article.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [68 favorites]


All I see in that article is that it didn't work for one person once

feel free to search the archives for the other threads we've had on this matter and see all the instances of this not working.
posted by nadawi at 10:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [24 favorites]


All I see in that article is that it didn't work for one person once, so not sure why you're more willing to extrapolate her experience than mine, but ok.

Never works for me, either. Not even when I was 9 months pregnant and thar she blows. Not even when I am in visible pain from the arthritis. Not even when I was on crutches.

Lived experiences, yo.
posted by MissySedai at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2015 [25 favorites]


Surely there's some way to rig up one of those camel water backpacks to "accidentally" spring a leak. It would only take a few minutes practice to become frighteningly accurate at cooling off those lavaballs.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


.....I think the Ted-Nugent comment was sarcastic....

It's possible I missed a reference, but just. Jesus. Does every thread about the little threats and space invasions and boundary crosses that women experience in public have to deteriorate into "but what if you just hit people who did that?" It's a much larger pattern of discussions about women's access to public spaces, where when women complain men--sometimes other women, but especially men--go "That's terrible, why don't you just learn martial arts/kick them in the testicles/shoot them/hit them with tasers/cover yourself in spikes/get all up in their physical space/escalate aggression right back at them?"

Well, it's because I'm five nothing and I have no upper arm strength and I'm not actually a violent person and in a fight I would lose. And I am so sick of having to point that out when I live in an ostensibly civilized society that theoretically restricts the use of violence so that those of us who are easily physically intimidated can go about our lives and do the things we are actually good at.
posted by sciatrix at 10:52 AM on June 4, 2015 [47 favorites]


Surely there's some way to rig up one of those camel water backpacks to "accidentally" spring a leak. It would only take a few minutes practice to become frighteningly accurate at cooling off those lavaballs.

Maybe add a ziploc bag with a pinhole? I wouldn't want my actual Camelbak to leak, though. They're expensive as shit and I need it on the bike trail!
posted by MissySedai at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2015


I love the photo of her hulking out. Swoon. Rock on.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:56 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Seriously, if the number of dudes going "Imagine if we just got violent with those assholes" just went "Imagine if we just said 'Stop being a dick' to strangers on the subway," we could have this problem solved in no time. But it's easier to fantasize about all the over-the-top stuff you could do. Way harder to tell a stranger to quit being an entitled douche to another stranger. Especially when you're not personally subject to it and it's so easy in the moment to just... let it slide by, even if you personally disagree with it.

Which was another thing that struck me about the article nadawi linked earlier, by the way. The one dude they interviewed who said it was super rude when other guys pull this shit? They asked, explicitly, if he would say "Stop doing that" to offenders, and he said "No, I couldn't tell a stranger that." Well, why the fuck not? That's what women have to do. Is it really so much more scary to actually say "That behavior is rude"? Could we fantasize about that instead of all the over the top bullshit for a change?
posted by sciatrix at 10:56 AM on June 4, 2015 [35 favorites]


the malignant narcissists that populate most airplanes for using their bodies and luggage to take up more than their allotted space

There certainly are malignant narcissists doing their thing on planes. But there is also the fact that many planes have seats into which perfectly normally sized people cannot fit without spreading into the adjacent seat's "airspace." I feel so bad for any guy I see getting on a plane who has got real linebacker shoulders. There's really nothing he can do not to be something of a nuisance to his seatmates. And, of course, in strictly physical terms he's more of a nuisance if he sits next to a similarly-proportioned guy than if he sits next to a relatively small-shouldered woman--but the social dynamics involve dictate that he should (and, from my observation, usually does) preferentially seek out a male seatmate.
posted by yoink at 10:59 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


where when women complain men--sometimes other women, but especially men--go "That's terrible, why don't you just learn martial arts/kick them in the testicles/shoot them/hit them with tasers/cover yourself in spikes/get all up in their physical space/escalate aggression right back at them?"

I think the problem is that while that shouldn't be something recommended to anyone, people's responses are their choice, I wish that I could respond with violence to some forms of creeping, but because creeping is not recognized as violence, it doesn't seem like self defense. Like, if a guy grops me and I punch him in the testicles, I'm the one who's going to jail - and that is just flat out not right. There should be space for both views.
posted by corb at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I flew to Portland last year [...] We worked it out so that we would change positions at half hour intervals [...] but we managed to cooperate so we weren't all miserable.
Contrast with my flight out of Portland, where the guys on either side of me were NOT broad shouldered, but still managed to smash me throughout the flight with their splayed legs and leaning and taking up all of the armrests and having their crap strewn all over.


Call me a glass half full guy, but I read this as you being accompanied by desirables coming to Portland and by undesirables leaving it, so I actually like both halves of your story.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm a woman and a feminist and I sometimes ride public transit and I try to stand up for people who appear less comfortable, but for some reason this phenom has never bothered me. I just don't really care how people sit and it seems kind of culturally loaded to critique it to me.

However, this is still my favorite metatalk thread and this my favorite comment.
posted by latkes at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you have a leg pressing against you, try reaching down and scratching your own leg, so your knuckles bump against them. Sometimes gets them to move their leg...repeat if you don't get results. I make an effort not to touch people on the train, I don't understand why other people don't do the same.
posted by agregoli at 11:07 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've found that turning slowly toward the offender and hissing can often do the trick.
posted by biddeford at 11:14 AM on June 4, 2015 [18 favorites]


Call me a glass half full guy, but I read this as you being accompanied by desirables coming to Portland and by undesirables leaving it, so I actually like both halves of your story.

The dudes on the way out were terrific! We had a couple of awkward moments trying to settle in, then we just started laughing at the absurdity of it. What are the odds that the two big dudes AND the short woman are all going to have linebacker shoulders? We were in it together, though, and just decided to make the best of it.

The dudes on the way home could have done with an ass-whuppin' from their Mamas for being such assfaces, though. I missed my previous seatmates, I'll tell you what. I'd rather have a somewhat uncomfortable ride with polite people any day!
posted by MissySedai at 11:15 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


poffin boffin: Just a wild guess here but it's probably because of the hundred odd comments in this thread agreeing with the article.

Or the fact that it's been at least half a decade that this has become a noted public phenomenon, with many other articles like this one written, all with comment threads here and elsewhere, full of people of both genders noting that it's a problem and that "excuse me" doesn't work.

latkes: I'm a woman and a feminist and I sometimes ride public transit and I try to stand up for people who appear less comfortable, but for some reason this phenom has never bothered me. I just don't really care how people sit and it seems kind of culturally loaded to critique it to me.

This isn't about how people are sitting in an aesthetic or cultural sense, though. If manspreading looked the exact same but didn't take up space, it wouldn't really be a problem. The problem is that it means the dudes who do it are physically taking up more than their allotted space.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:15 AM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm a woman and a feminist and I sometimes ride public transit and I try to stand up for people who appear less comfortable

Or even because you just feel like being nice. One evening in London riding home on the tube late a pair of young women having a quiet but animated conversation got on. One of them took the only remaining seat, next to me, and the other had to stand. After a moment I got up and gestured to her to sit next to her friend. She looked fairly astounded and then took it, and urgently whispered girly conversation reensued. I figured they were making better use of that seat than I was. But then I always take the stairs and park well toward to the back of the parking lot, just because there's something more alive and less needy about it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


I am not a manspreader. I'm just really fat. Please don't sit on me.
posted by inturnaround at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't sit on lavaballers. But I will slowly encroach on them if I get to sit next to them, trying to free up the seat next to me. I'm a dude. For some reason, they do not want a dude's leg touching theirs. So they contract. I repeat. And then I motion for someone to take the seat next to me. I don't get to do this that often, but it's great when I do.
posted by Hactar at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


The problem is that it means the dudes who do it are physically taking up more than their allotted space.

I mean, I guess from my point of view "allotted space" is not an objectively defined thing. But it's not an issue I'm passionate about. I enjoyed my skim of the link and am for women taking up space. I just personally don't find men sitting with their legs open to be offensive. I see there being a host of cultural factors (including but not at all limited to sexism) that make that happen, and I feel fine with letting those various cultural values exist in my presence, even as they differ from mine.
posted by latkes at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a woman and a feminist and I sometimes ride public transit and I try to stand up for people who appear less comfortable, but for some reason this phenom has never bothered me. I just don't really care how people sit and it seems kind of culturally loaded to critique it to me.

What's "culturally loaded" about it?

I'm a guy who commutes to work by bus and subway every day. I really hate it when strangers deliberately lean on me or invade my personal space by pressing their legs up against mine, when they don't have to. It's rude. And when done by a guy to a woman, that strikes me as a form of harassment.
posted by zarq at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2015 [12 favorites]


The problem is that it means the dudes who do it are physically taking up more than their allotted space.

It's really just basic human decency and mindfulness to allow others fair use of seating on public transpo and the fact that some people seem to be incapable of it is grotesque. I don't think "being a selfish rude asshole" is a cultural value, and it shouldn't be defended as such.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


I mean, I guess from my point of view "allotted space" is not an objectively defined thing.

It's perfectly objectively defined. One seat, one person unless there's a ton of room. That includes all the space above and below it (maybe not always above in the case of rail-hanging, but at least enough so that it's clearly Not Cool if someone decided to use your head to rest their bag), and extending as far out in front of it as is reasonable to not impede traffic and people who have to stand. Couldn't be more objective and culturally neutral. No matter what form of transport you're on, it's very easy to understand the one person = one seat rule and the boundaries of the "seat zone".
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:24 AM on June 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'd be really interested in hearing why you think it is culturally loaded to complain about this, actually.
posted by agregoli at 11:25 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


[A couple comments deleted. As always, commentary about deletions doesn't belong on the blue.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:26 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


someone said it's not about appearances but it kind of is. I don't think it's really cool to have your bulging genitals straining at your pants-crotch, on full display like that. it's offensive and mildly obscene.
posted by jayder at 11:27 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


here is a veritable treasure trove of examples of how this isn't a criticism of fat/tall people whose body proportions are causing them to take up a greater amount of space than other people. it's a criticism of assholes who think they're entitled to three seats on the fucking subway.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:27 AM on June 4, 2015 [20 favorites]


I'm going to take a risk here and say that I'm unimpressed with the author's approach (though I do completely understand the frustration that motivated it). She describes a transition from whispered excuse-mes to deliberately passive-aggressive excuse-mes, complete with a maniacal grin. There is middle ground between being afraid to use your voice and using your voice (and body) to harass other people. I think it's worthwhile to start on the middle ground, and adjust your behavior based on what information you gather.

As a human being, I'm going to be optimistic and assume that most men who manspread do it out of habit or carelessness. For those men, maybe a polite "hey, can I sit there?" would produce good results. If it doesn't, then the asker has probably identified a man who's deliberately being an asshat. That's the point at which the author's tone and facial expression could be a good way to test the degree of commitment to asshattery that the manspreader is willing to maintain.

If the guy's obviously committed to his role as Public Transit Asshat, then the asker has to decide (quickly) what kind of asshat he is. Asshats come in a wide array of types, from the belligerent big-hat-no-cattle variety to the dangerous variety. Big-hat-no-cattle will cave under direct pressure. Dangerous may respond with equal or excessive physical force. Bear in mind that Dangerous Asshat keeps existing after the asker exits the bus or train. He may follow the asker out of the view of security cameras. Or he may have the same transit routine as the asker, and bide his time.

Or he may not. Like every other human being on this planet, he's Shroedinger's Asshat. You don't know what they're like until they have an opportunity to act under a given set of circumstances. Change the circumstances, and you may change the resulting action. Repeat the same type of action enough times, and that's what you're like as a human being.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't think "being a selfish rude asshole" is a cultural value, and it shouldn't be defended as such.

Yeah, but we live in New York. That's kinda our thing.
posted by zarq at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2015


> I am not a manspreader. I'm just really fat. Please don't sit on me.

Most women over the age of about 14 begin to be able to tell the difference between lavaballing creeper and guy who is just big (fat, or tall, or etc.). We get a lot of practice.
posted by rtha at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2015 [31 favorites]


not really, no.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:29 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's perfectly objectively defined. One seat, one person unless there's a ton of room.

My shoulders are too broad to fit within most seats on public transportation. Not a big deal, just pointing out that the one person, one seat rule doesn't work for everyone.

Thank you for reading this pedantic comment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:29 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I am not a manspreader. I'm just really fat. Please don't sit on me.

As a fairly large dude, I get where you're coming from. But I think people can tell the difference between "I'm big and doing my best to take up as little space as possible" vs. "I'm going to maximize my own comfort and not care about anybody else". There's a distinct difference in body language between the two situations.

Actually I think avoiding the body language of the former might be part of the goal for manspreaders -- they don't want to look "weak" or some similar macho nonsense.
posted by FishBike at 11:29 AM on June 4, 2015 [24 favorites]


three seats on the fucking subway.

>:(
posted by griphus at 11:29 AM on June 4, 2015


not really, no.

I was joking. I'm actually a very polite native New Yorker.
posted by zarq at 11:30 AM on June 4, 2015


I am thrilled that she (and others!) are doing this, because I thought I was alone in my crusade. I am approximately 120% the width of a standard subway seat (as I stand six and a half feet tall, and have enormous shoulders), so as a matter of course, I always stand when the train is crowded. Except when I spot a manspreader, at which point I flop onto the adjacent seat like Barcelona's forward trying to draw a red card. Then it's not a bony ass crushing the offender, its 18 stone of irritated dude, accelerating at 9.8 m/s^2. I've never encountered a repeat offender.
posted by Mayor West at 11:31 AM on June 4, 2015 [75 favorites]


So I was reading a story on some other website about a mentally ill person who had done something unspeakable in a subway car -- I believe it was about an unprovoked stabbing. One of the many commenters on the story said that bad and reckless behavior on public transit is in fact a contributor to global warming. People get the sense that transit is unpleasant at best and carrying dangerous madmen at worst. Therefore, they choose driving, and they choose lifestyles based around driving, and their votes and dollars go accordingly.

In sum: men who spread their legs over three seats are helping to destroy the earth. Something to think about for the next poster campaign.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [53 favorites]


As a fairly large dude, I get where you're coming from. But I think people can tell the difference between "I'm big and doing my best to take up as little space as possible" vs. "I'm going to maximize my own comfort and not care about anybody else". There's a distinct difference in body language between the two situations.

Yes. Exactly. I'm a fairly large and tall dude, too. I try to take up as little space as possible if I take a seat. There's a huge difference between that and someone who does his best starfish impression.
posted by zarq at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Then it's not a bony ass crushing the offender, its 18 stone of irritated dude, accelerating at 9.8 m/s^2. I've never encountered a repeat offender.

you are doing the lord's work and i salute you.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:33 AM on June 4, 2015 [36 favorites]


Also why is it that like half the responses in these sorts of threads are "well, here's why the thing that I'm doing that could be confused for manspreading isn't"?

Like if this was a thread about axe murdering would dudes be coming in all "I'm a medieval executioner and I also hit people with my axe until they die but I don't want to be lumped in with these guys" as if the people who have this complaint are not so intimately familiar with the circumstances that they can't tell the difference between a big or long-legged guy, and a guy purposefully sitting like he's trying to push out a particularly difficult turd.
posted by griphus at 11:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [81 favorites]


I saw a few mentions upthread about airplanes. I *loved* when I found out about Southwest having a "person of size" policy (I guess with the Kevin Smith incident?). The name is fully silly, but I now buy 2 seats. Now, instead of feeling guilty that I take up too much room, I actually have some space to offer the person who takes the window seat. It's great!
posted by Ambient Echo at 11:34 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd be really interested in hearing why you think it is culturally loaded to complain about this, actually.

In my experience living in an extremely diverse community of the SF Bay Area, my observation is that some men are more likely to sit with their legs open than others. For example, young men are more likely than old to sit in this way. My experience says that a sort of "frat boy" demographic of young men who are loudly taking up space in other ways are more likely than, for example, older Asian immigrant men to do this. I think I'm more likely to see young African American men do this than say middle aged Sikh men. (These observations may not hold up if I were to actually sit on a bus and take notes, these are my impression that could be wrong)

In any case, with any behavior, our cultural histories and values play a role in how we perform in public. Before I conclude someone's motivations, or even conclude that something is universally offensive, I try to wonder about what that behavior means to other people, including the other people performing it and the other people receiving/experiencing it, and I don't assume everyone is having the same experience as me. And if sitting with your legs open is a form of masculine performance, I have to assume that that masculine performance has different meanings to the different dudes who do it, because there is not one universal experience of masculinity.

Again, this is not an issue I passionately care about. I'm not out to "free the lavaballers!", I just personally don't care if the dude on the bus has his legs spread wide open.

Now, able bodied young people refusing to stand up for folks who are older, tireder, in more pain, etc, that really chafes my hide.
posted by latkes at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


My favorite term for this behavior is phantom schlong. I used to see it mentioned occasionally at Shapely Prose and I think some other feminist blogs.
posted by tuesdayschild at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also why is it that like half the responses in these sorts of threads are "well, here's why the thing that I'm doing that could be confused for manspreading isn't"?

We can call it the "#NOTALLMANSPREADERS" phenomenon.
posted by zarq at 11:35 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Listen, I know people are going to think I'm manspreading, but I am an alien gelatin creature who absorbs human life, so if I'm spreading out, I'm not being rude, that's just the way I eat.
posted by maxsparber at 11:36 AM on June 4, 2015 [57 favorites]


here is a veritable treasure trove of examples

That is so enraging to look at. What jackasses. I don't think it's good for my blood pressure.
posted by JenMarie at 11:36 AM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


She describes a transition from whispered excuse-mes to deliberately passive-aggressive excuse-mes, complete with a maniacal grin. There is middle ground between being afraid to use your voice and using your voice (and body) to harass other people. I think it's worthwhile to start on the middle ground, and adjust your behavior based on what information you gather.

Here's the thing: while I don't know the author personally and if she's this sort of person in everyday life, I can tell you right now that I would not relish having to be aggressive/passive-aggressive/or anything that men apparently find unladylike just to sit down on the damn subway. It's not like I would do it thinking "AW YEAH" immediately; I would do it going "CHRIST WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS JUST FUCKING SIT DOWN."

The delight for me would come when it was clearly apparent that asshats are gonna asshat and not let me sit.
posted by Kitteh at 11:37 AM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


jayder: someone said it's not about appearances but it kind of is. I don't think it's really cool to have your bulging genitals straining at your pants-crotch, on full display like that. it's offensive and mildly obscene.

Okay, that's culturally defined, but that's also not why most people care about it, or at least it's not the main objection.

Brandon Blatcher: My shoulders are too broad to fit within most seats on public transportation. Not a big deal, just pointing out that the one person, one seat rule doesn't work for everyone.

Yeah, that's totally a thing, but it's also not an active rule violation in the same thing. If you sit your butt in the seat normally and it happens, that's not something you're actually doing that you have control over. It's something that could be fixed by bigger seats and also might not actually be an issue on every single bus/plane/train ever, whereas I don't think the amount of space most spready dudes want is something that would ever be feasible, given that it seems like it would cut capacity to like a third. You can't help it, they can.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:38 AM on June 4, 2015


I don't think it's good for my blood pressure.

There are at least 3 so far which would, if witnessed in person, have spurred me to immediate acts of extreme violence.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:40 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


People! Look at poffin boffin's link. These are not particularly big guys. If you recognize yourself among this crowd, you are DOING A BAD THING. End of story.
posted by biddeford at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2015 [22 favorites]


Like if this was a thread about axe murdering would dudes be coming in all "I'm a medieval executioner and I also hit people with my axe until they die but I don't want to be lumped in with these guys"

Why you gotta be giving all the props to axe murderers, how come stabbers never get any love?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:41 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't give a shit about wide shoulders or wide dudes. I HATE when anyone thinks they can sprawl like they deserve the most comfort. No one should be comfy like in a living room, its TRANSIT.
posted by agregoli at 11:42 AM on June 4, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm going to take a risk here and say that I'm unimpressed with the author's approach (though I do completely understand the frustration that motivated it). She describes a transition from whispered excuse-mes to deliberately passive-aggressive excuse-mes, complete with a maniacal grin.

There's nothing passive-aggressive about saying "excuse me". It means "I would like to sit there". Just because she didn't say "I would like to sit there" doesn't mean that "Excuse me" doesn't convey the exact same information.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:42 AM on June 4, 2015 [25 favorites]


We can call it the "#NOTALLMANSPREADERS" phenomenon.

Mansplaining mansplaying?
posted by TedW at 11:42 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


People! Look at poffin boffin's link. These are not particularly big guys. If you recognize yourself among this crowd, you are DOING A BAD THING. End of story.

Oh shit, why was I wearing those pants with that shirt?! Christ, look in the mirror before leaving the house Brandon. It's part of the therapy!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:43 AM on June 4, 2015


I'm seriously confused about whether "lavaballing" means the same or the opposite thing as "manspreading".
posted by beau jackson at 11:44 AM on June 4, 2015


same
posted by ogooglebar at 11:45 AM on June 4, 2015


People! Look at poffin boffin's link. These are not particularly big guys. If you recognize yourself among this crowd, you are DOING A BAD THING. End of story.

I like this one in particular, because right next to the asshole doing it is an even bigger guy who isn't. Yeah, soccer douche, I'm sure you're soooo huge and all, but Mr. Suspenders is like half again as big as you are and could probably crush you. Look at that motherfucker's feet, I bet he's the size of an NBA player. No one is impressed, Ronaldo.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:46 AM on June 4, 2015 [26 favorites]


People! Look at poffin boffin's link.

As someone who doesn't ride trains, holy crap I was imaging this being so much less of an actual spread. These guys look like fucking doofuses.
posted by selfnoise at 11:46 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


yeah that link, yikes. That behaviour is egregious. Also, not to defend the dude, but as a general rule don't sit next to soccer dude. On top of sitting like an asshole, he probably stinks from the game. I'll stand.

I'm seriously confused about whether "lavaballing" means the same or the opposite thing as "manspreading"

Same thing. I think the implication is their balls are hot like lava so they gotta keep the legs away!
posted by Hoopo at 11:47 AM on June 4, 2015


I think the popular usage of "passive aggressive" is weird. Like, I've seen pictures of notes people have left on windshields with complaints that the notes, which clearly stated a complaint, were passive aggressive. I come from Minnesota, which is the passive aggressive capitol of the world, and notes are not passive aggressive. Staring daggers from behind a closed curtain while saying "It would be nice if some people would parallel park better" is passive aggressive.

Saying "Excuse me" and then sitting on someone is not passive aggressive. It's active aggressive.
posted by maxsparber at 11:48 AM on June 4, 2015 [36 favorites]


I will bet you that Soccer Dude saw an empty seat between the two of them and sat down and then did that.
posted by griphus at 11:49 AM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


holy crap I was imaging this being so much less of an actual spread.

yeah, it's literally men who are voluntarily sitting in positions similar to those we women must sit in while having pelvic examinations. it's not the "wide shouldered/long legged guy needs to sit down just like everyone else" thing that a lot of guys in this thread are worried about.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


I like this one in particular, because right next to the asshole doing it is an even bigger guy who isn't.

Also noteworthy that the two on either side are demonstrating the circumstances under which it is not only appropriate but practically necessary to cross your legs above the knee on the train: because it gets that leg effectively away from manspreader.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Forthwith, I am calling the act of trying to sit in a row with two other men "manwiching."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


So do guys who do this also sit like this when they sit down for dinner? My impression is no, they don't. So it's clearly a fairly active, if now ingrained, expression of clique identification for many of them.
posted by skynxnex at 11:50 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I will bet you that Soccer Dude saw an empty seat between the two of them and sat down and then did that.

I will bet you he didn't! He was there second, after book reading giant and then the lady came on the train and said excuse me, then he looked up from his phone, along with book reading giant, then soccer dude move his leg and the lady sat down and then he moved his leg back to lavaballing position #1 and went back to talking about his boyfriend.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:52 AM on June 4, 2015


flop onto the adjacent seat like Barcelona's forward trying to draw a red card.

Messi doesn't dive and Suarez would just bite the other dude.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:53 AM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I like this one in particular, because right next to the asshole doing it is an even bigger guy who isn't.


Sure, but the guy who isn't is crossing his legs, there are also transit campaigns against doing that as it takes up a lot more space.
posted by Cosine at 11:54 AM on June 4, 2015


Messi doesn't dive

That is a myth. Another myth: sitting with one's legs together makes your balls feel like they're bathed in lava.
posted by beau jackson at 11:55 AM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just now got a really terrible idea.

I am a boring, middle aged lady now, and man, I'm kind of wondering what might happen if I were to CUDDLE. I mean, if some dude I didn't actually feel threatened by were to start taking up my space and pressing against me, what if, instead of aggressively pressing back, I did that wiggly snuggling in thing instead? What if I were to rest my head on his chest?

This is a terrible idea and I will probably never do it unless someone were to, say, dare me. I am extremely susceptible to dares.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:55 AM on June 4, 2015 [25 favorites]


"18 stone of irritated dude" sounds like the name of a band whose drummer I would have a huge-ass crush on once upon a time.

So do guys who do this also sit like this when they sit down for dinner?

I'll say this because I realized I'm spreading RIGHT NOW as I read this thread. In fact, I probably often spread like that when I'm slumped in my desk reading and typing; it's ridiculous looking and probably bad for my back, but sometimes it is how I feel most comfortable.

But you know what, sometimes a finger is the best way to get a booger out, but I don't pick my nose in public either.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:56 AM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


In any case, with any behavior, our cultural histories and values play a role in how we perform in public. Before I conclude someone's motivations, or even conclude that something is universally offensive, I try to wonder about what that behavior means to other people, including the other people performing it and the other people receiving/experiencing it, and I don't assume everyone is having the same experience as me. And if sitting with your legs open is a form of masculine performance, I have to assume that that masculine performance has different meanings to the different dudes who do it, because there is not one universal experience of masculinity.

Okay, that to me sounds like you're trying to make a case for forgiving them for not having had a chance to learn a particular point of etiquette. And quite frankly, there are some points of etiquette that, if someone transgresses them, it doesn't really matter why they may not have learned about it previous; all that matters is that they didn't learn it and perhaps you can be the person to educate them now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is a terrible idea and I will probably never do it unless someone were to, say, dare me. I am extremely susceptible to dares.

I imagine you would get groped a lot and maybe followed home by creepers, and, as per usual, the cops would tell you that you were asking for it.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:59 AM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am sitting at my desk, right now, with my legs forming an acute angle, and my junk is just fine, in case you were wondering. No pain or discomfort "down there" at all. I bet I could do this on public transit too. Anyhoo, for more info about the comfort level of my package, memail me.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:00 PM on June 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


I prefer the term manspreading to lavaballing because i think it's a better generic term for a number of forms of space-stealing that some men perform on public transit. Another thing they do on emptier (but sometimes crowded!) trains is to hold the poles on both sides of the aisle, essentially creating a wall that you have to navigate passing. Of course they always (I think?) release with one hand to let people pass, but to me it still has this very aggressive tenor, like it's implying that they could if they wanted to allow someone to not pass.
posted by misskaz at 12:00 PM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


and Suarez would just bite the other dude.

That's the plan for repeat offenders.
posted by Mayor West at 12:01 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, I'm totally on board with the idea that one shouldn't take up more than one seat if they can possibly avoid it but, at least for me, sitting with my legs splayed out has never been about my testicles being hot, but about them being crushed between my thighs.

I've just recently gotten thin enough that I can start to comfortably cross my legs with my top knee resting over the bottom one rather than the less ball crushingly uncomfortable ankle resting on the knee method. Before, I would just hold my legs closer together than they would naturally be (just a bit outside the width of my hips) to keep them out of the way. It's not comfortable but neither is having my legs rub up against someone else and it at least only made me uncomfortable and not the person next to me. It also helps to sit up straighter with your butt as far back in the seat as it will go. Start slouching and your legs will will want to spread out more.
posted by VTX at 12:03 PM on June 4, 2015


Get a load of the sense of entitlement on display in this one. The facial expression practically screams "Fuck all y'all. I got mine!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:04 PM on June 4, 2015 [16 favorites]


So, I'm totally on board with the idea that one shouldn't take up more than one seat if they can possibly avoid it but, at least for me, sitting with my legs splayed out has never been about my testicles being hot, but about them being crushed between my thighs.

If someone's testicles are THAT big I think they have bigger problems than "whether I can spread my knees on a subway".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:04 PM on June 4, 2015


Of course they always (I think?) release with one hand to let people pass, but to me it still has this very aggressive tenor, like it's implying that they could if they wanted to allow someone to not pass.

Or maybe - and this is me - they don't want to get their dangly-bits in anyone's face and would also not like to fall down.
posted by pan at 12:04 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Sure, but the guy who isn't is crossing his legs, there are also transit campaigns against doing that as it takes up a lot more space.

> Also noteworthy that the two on either side are demonstrating the circumstances under which it is not only appropriate but practically necessary to cross your legs above the knee on the train: because it gets that leg effectively away from manspreader.

I'm pretty sure most people don't mind minor discomfort when they realize it's to avoid a giant asshole
posted by halifix at 12:05 PM on June 4, 2015


It's not that my balls are big, but my thighs were. I mean, I can get them out of the way but it took some....adjusting, and sort of thing is frowned upon in public.

"Hang on while I adjust my balls so you can sit down" isn't really something I want to say to a stranger.
posted by VTX at 12:05 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Really for maximum comfort men could try sitting with one or both legs behind their head, cool nut breeze yogi style.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


Or maybe - and this is me - they don't want to get their dangly-bits in anyone's face and would also not like to fall down.

Somehow I've managed to ride public transit for decades holding only one pole and never fallen down. I don't see why spreading oneself across the entire aisle is necessary for maintaining uprightness. And one can angle oneself while holding only one pole so as to not dangle "bits" in people's faces.
posted by misskaz at 12:09 PM on June 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well, I think I'm in love with whoever runs the Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train Tumblr now.

Also, I can't believe so many men do this while wearing short shorts. Never mind how much space you're taking, NO ONE NEEDS TO SEE YOUR FUCKING PUBIC HAIR.
posted by yasaman at 12:09 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


makes your balls feel like they're bathed in lava.

Lava?
("Some balls are held for pleasure and some for fancy dress but when they're bathed in Lava they're the balls that I like best.")
posted by octobersurprise at 12:10 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


"cool nut breeze yogi"

I bought that flavor of Cheerios once and they were nasty.
posted by komara at 12:14 PM on June 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


Every time this comes up, some larger men - or those with unusual testicular problems - just have to point out that they don't always fit comfortably on public transport.

Dude, we know. Not only do we know because of your obvious size, we know because your demeanor isn't the same - so those of you with unusual testicular problems are probably off the hook too.

Likewise, we know the difference between a clueless asshole who sets their backpack down on the seat next to them completely unnecessarily, and someone who's got a lot of grocery bags and can't keep them all in their lap.

I prefer the term manspreading to lavaballing because i think it's a better generic term for a number of forms of space-stealing that some men perform on public transit.

I like it too, because of the parallel to "mansplaining" (which I know a lot of people hate also). It's a name that evokes that this is a gendered form of behavior that is about claiming space as a way to claim power.

If anything, it's the "-spreading" part that is the issue, because space-stealing takes a lot of forms that don't always involve sitting. I was browsing some previous threads on feminism today and someone (sorry I can't remember who) talked about gendered pedestrian behavior. But also, being crowded in queues, getting all up in my face, and ugh. I enjoy human contact but sometimes I wish I had an invisible, electric bubble around me that would shock anyone who got too close. Like an electric dog collar.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:16 PM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


the best solution happened when me and a friend where moving an entire (small) apartment via subway.

Just carry on your own wingback, floral patterned turn of the century arm chair and sit on that.
posted by The Whelk at 12:16 PM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Jacqueline: "Read this online today, thought of MeFi.

Yeah I saw it on Facebook and was shocked no one else had posted it yet. Usually when I see something and think of MeFi, someone has already beaten me to it.
"

You and me both. Thus my relatively low post/membership year count.
posted by Samizdata at 12:16 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The subway activity that amazes me the most is when women are doing their makeup and they whip out that eyelash curler contraption. That train hits a bump and you may spend the rest of your days with a parrot on your shoulder saying "yarrrrr!!"
posted by jonmc at 12:20 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Somehow I've managed to ride public transit for decades holding only one pole and never fallen down. I don't see why spreading oneself across the entire aisle is necessary for maintaining uprightness. And one can angle oneself while holding only one pole so as to not dangle "bits" in people's faces.

My point being, you're aggressive posturing can be someone else's honest attempt at politeness.

Obviously, taking up two seats with your knees is a no-go though.
posted by pan at 12:20 PM on June 4, 2015


A friend posted this on FB and someone immediately leapt in to say "BUT MY ENORMOUS BALLS! THEY WILL BE CRUSHED TO SMITHEREENS BY MY MANLY THIGHS!" And all I can say is: There is a massive difference between cramming your knees together and having your thighs at an obtuse angle.




*I have conveyed the essence, if not the actual wording, of the comment.
posted by wintersweet at 12:26 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hate being touched by strangers. I tend to involuntarily jump a foot in the air and strike a defensive pose when it happens, and it's a toss up between suppressing the jump and suppressing the urge to pummel the nearest face that seems to be responsible.

From this perspective, I would like to submit that virtually everyone could be a little more generous, considerate and compassionate in permitting other people their space. I know this represents in parts my own neurosis, but I'm sure I'm not alone in having feelings like this.

Not just on transit, but in crowds, in shops, on sidewalks and so on. Stick to one side and leave some room on the sidewalk for people to get around you, maintain awareness of your surroundings to avoid impeding other's paths unnecessarily. Stop acting like you and your group are the only goddamn people on the face of the planet.

On a bad day, oh man, get a couple people boxing me in a little too tight bumping into me a bit too much and that 20 minute bus ride turns into the longest part of my day. That's one of the funny things about the time dilation of adrenaline.

One time this dude kept touching my leg with his and I heel-kicked his shin twice with my boot as I got up and he howled like an animal. The self-destructive part of me had been wishing he'd come after me.

Even the best of us could probably be better at using our space with respect to others. If we can avoid putting ourselves and others into that fight-or-flight mode, that's a good thing. So everyone lets give everyone some fucking space to breathe.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:30 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


So what I'd like to do is find a screenprinting company willing to deal in... less-than-tasteful nudity, make a run of t-shirts with just a naked dude's pelvis, balls, and penis right on the front of the shirt, and then, facing the manspreader, wear said shirt, so that he too can experience balls and cock IN ALL THEIR OBVIOUS GLORY
posted by sinnesloeschen at 12:32 PM on June 4, 2015


Aw man, the best part of "Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train" is Men Defending Their Balls: a Superpoem.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:34 PM on June 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


I just returned from a trip to Tokyo and I was struck by how polite the people are. No one takes up more space than they are entitled to

Yeah, this is why I only ride public transportation in Japan. There are rude people there, but they're rare enough that you really notice them (and they get a lot of nasty looks, although people are usually too reserved to actually say anything or engage them). Whereas based on what I read on Metafilter, American public transportation is a nonstop parade of assholes.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:34 PM on June 4, 2015


I am a woman who, for whatever reason, doesn't get harassed much. I also commute daily on the lovely NYC subway. So, I've decided that it's my mission from god to sit next to manspreaders wherever possible. Like the author, I say "excuse me" and then I plop down whether they move or not. If they want to press their leg against me, that's fine. I can handle it. Most move their legs together at least a little. I've had two negative interactions. Once, the guy got my attention and showed me a picture of a dude's naked butt on his phone. I rolled my eyes and got up. (I couldn't tell if this was retaliation for making him put his stupid legs together or if he was just a harasser. I got the sense it was the second.)

Saying "Excuse me" and then sitting on someone is not passive aggressive. It's active aggressive.

Another time a guy said I couldn't fit next to him (after I sat down). I said I could if he put his legs together. He said his legs were together. (They were not.) He got pissy and said I didn't have to be passive aggressive. I considered explaining to him that it was just straight aggressive to say "excuse me," sit down, and then tell him to put his legs together, but I realized the futility and put my headphones in. He kept trying to get into it with me the rest of the ride, but I just smiled, pointed to my headphones, and said, "sorry, can't hear you" and smiled some more. It was really satisfying.
posted by Mavri at 12:36 PM on June 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


There are rude people there, but they're rare enough that you really notice them

I like the white-gloved shovers, but the prevalence of passenger gropery is really unpleasant.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:38 PM on June 4, 2015


that is, fellow passengers that are gropers, not white gloved shover gropery.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:39 PM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like the white-gloved shovers, but the prevalence of passenger gropery is really unpleasant.

Thats a good point, being male gives me a very different perspective on it. My understanding is its been getting a little better thanks to some of the campaigns and general public perception, but I don't really have any firsthand knowledge of course.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:40 PM on June 4, 2015


The subway activity that amazes me the most is when women are doing their makeup and they whip out that eyelash curler contraption. That train hits a bump and you may spend the rest of your days with a parrot on your shoulder saying "yarrrrr!!"

Women who routinely do their makeup on the subway are, though insane and weird, also total pros at it. They would no more accidentally blind themselves than a born-and-raised NYC resident would fall over when the train suddenly turns. You just make unconscious micro-adjustments with lightning speed. It's like surfing, but with pointy things in your face.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:41 PM on June 4, 2015 [28 favorites]


I'm going to be optimistic and assume that most men who manspread do it out of habit or carelessness

I think that's kind of the point. It's their habit to not care about the comfort of others (especially women) relative to their own. It becomes habit through constant repetition without any countervailing forces or consequences, and by lifetimes of seeing it modeled by many other men, similarly without any countervailing forces or consequences.

That's why I think these articles and the Tumblr sites and this FPP are really good things -- NOT to weigh the pros and cons of various tactics available to women to try to ask manspreaders to stop, but to make the non-Dangerous-Asshat ones, about whom we are all optimistic, to clue the fuck up and not do it in the first place.

And really, this is very specifically about manspreaders, not all space hogs or otherwise-annoying fellow public transitors, as much as I too like opportunities to vent about them. Manspreading is a very specific phenomenon that is solely perpetuated by men and that affects women disproportionately. It would be so awesome if there were less of this specific thing in the world.
posted by argonauta at 12:42 PM on June 4, 2015 [29 favorites]


I imagine you would get groped a lot and maybe followed home by creepers, and, as per usual, the cops would tell you that you were asking for it.

I'm well aware of the risks. However, I don't think it's tangential to point out that it's this sort of intimidation that often contributes to women continuing to go along with things like this--not defending our spaces out of fear of what encroaching men might try if we did.

Yes, going out in public as a woman is risky. Women know that. But some women overestimate the dangers, and limit their movements to a degree that I would personally find horrifically stifling. I'm 50 years old, and I have decades worth of experience navigating the world independently, in a variety of different environments. I've always had a pretty high tolerance for risk, because I value my independence and my right to do what I like very highly. I walk around alone at night sometimes. I defend my space and my right to be where I am. I have lots and lots of experience doing reconnaissance and evaluating various situations for risk. And I have called a lot of people out, verbally and nonverbally, for intruding on me in public places, and somehow have managed to escape repercussions for that specifically. I have been groped and followed and harassed plenty, but never as a result of my actually saying or doing something. It's always been when I was minding my own business.

Now, obviously, I'm pretty much kidding about cuddling space hoggers, but if I were to actually try something like that, I expect I'd have a pretty good sense of when and how to do it, because I have lots of experience and practice with creeps and genuinely dangerous situations in urban environments. I don't think it's really necessary to remind women of the dangers of being women. We know that already, and most of us who spend a lot of time out in the world are actually really good at risk assessment.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:46 PM on June 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


My point being, you're aggressive posturing can be someone else's honest attempt at politeness.

Hey, you do you. I'm just saying to me it appears aggressive and possessive of space and people's right of movement.

I guess I'm sensitive to men on public transit who make it appear as if they are the gatekeepers of my escape, because I once witnessed a man on a train grope a woman he had trapped in the window seat, refuse to stop touching her as she repeatedly and increasingly loudly asked him to stop, and then refuse to let her out of the window seat so she could get away. After other passengers finally intervened and forced him up and off the train, I then watched her sob helplessly for the rest of her commute. (I was half a train car away and in a window seat myself, yet still regret to this day not getting up and getting in that dude's face as soon as I realized there was a problem. I'm a 5'1" woman.)

So I guess it's like Shroediger's Jerkface: you may not be a jerkface but I can't tell the difference between you and someone who may become one, so sorry if I'm judging you harshly.
posted by misskaz at 12:46 PM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure why my throwaway comment was worth such a lecture on how I am intimidating women but thanks I guess.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:58 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Huh? I don't believe any one said you were intimidating women...I think you misread that.
posted by agregoli at 1:01 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


griphus: Also why is it that like half the responses in these sorts of threads are "well, here's why the thing that I'm doing that could be confused for manspreading isn't"?

I think I can take a careful stab at this. The bad behavior we're discussing here is taking up more than one seat on public transit when others might need or want the space. This is unambiguously rude and inconsiderate, and I am opposed to it. I think it's fair to say (and correct me if you disagree) that it is okay to take up more than one seat on public transit if that bus or train is largely empty and there are plenty of seats that new arrivals could sit in.

This relatively new push to ban and shame this behavior has led to this: People are being arrested for the manner in which they sit on largely empty public transit. ARRESTED-- that is to say, handcuffs, imprisonment, standing in front of a judge, permanent public record. I'm not opposed to banning and shaming this behavior, but I am strongly opposed to criminalizing it, especially since the law doesn't make the same distinction that I did in the above paragraph.

So yes, I'm going to do the same thing you're asking about. I'm going to say that, as a man who rides public transit, I regularly take up more than one seat when I'm on a largely empty bus. Sometimes that's by spreading out, sometimes by putting my purse on the seat next to me. I don't consider that to be the same behavior that this thread is about.

OK, so here's the reason why I just said that: If I lived in the right jurisdiction, I would be subject to arrest* for behaving in a way superficially similar to but distinct from the behavior being described and shamed in this thread. I feel the need to point this out because, holy shit, the largely progressive crowd that's on board with this little crusade has been glibly suggesting violence, and, more to the point, has actually implemented laws [correction: began enforcing existing laws] subjecting people who do it to arbitrary arrest.

Somewhat shorter: This small-scale (and righteous!) fight against space hogs on public transit has led to at least one actual instance of legally-sanctioned injustice. The fact that witches are real doesn't mean that this isn't a witch hunt that can and has punished non-witches. One reason to say "here's why the thing that I'm doing that could be confused for manspreading isn't" is to identify oneself as someone who is personally concerned about the slippery slope we've fallen down.

*not literally-- I have a hard time imagining the NYPD arresting someone white for this new crime
posted by 4th number at 1:03 PM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


This thread has taught me that a) I need a tanuki hand puppet and b) I need to use more public transportation with my new hand puppet of spreadshaming.
posted by mikurski at 1:06 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


This relatively new push to ban and shame this behavior has led to this: People are being arrested for the manner in which they sit on largely empty public transit. ARRESTED-- that is to say, handcuffs, imprisonment, standing in front of a judge, permanent public record.

This is literally the last sentence in the article you posted:

It’s possible that two unnamed men were arrested in New York City for manspreading, but no details about the claim were made available in the original report or any of the many later repetitions of it. The scant information included with it suggested that the men were possibly arrested not for manspreading, but for arrest warrants already active at the time they came to the attention of the NYPD.

So, yeah, criminalizing of manspreading? Not a thing, and therefore not something that needs be discussed in this thread.
posted by maxsparber at 1:10 PM on June 4, 2015 [35 favorites]


not literally-- I have a hard time imagining the NYPD arresting someone white for this new crime

Except they will, and have. And will more than likely appliy the law, shall we say, unevenly? http://gothamist.com/2015/05/28/manspreading_crackdown.php
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:12 PM on June 4, 2015


I lack the google-fu for it at the moment (apparently) but ISTR that John Hodgman was once ticketed/fined/whatevered for taking up more than a single seat on the subway. Not all minor celebrities and former literary agents!

But on the actual idea in the FPP: I am always tempted just to sit on the legs of aggressive manspreaders in the DC metro (it is possible to occupy four seats here, not just three) but I have a real (and probably reasonable) fear that such a move would result in actual violence. I can't believe a woman would do such a thing and risk violence or sexual assault.
posted by fedward at 1:13 PM on June 4, 2015


Ah, I take it back-- the law actually does make the distinction-- Gothamist: "The MTA's rules of conduct only prohibit taking up more than one seat when it interferes with the functioning of the train or the 'comfort of other passengers.'" Thanks, MrBobaFett.
posted by 4th number at 1:14 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


someone immediately leapt in to say "BUT MY ENORMOUS BALLS! THEY WILL BE CRUSHED TO SMITHEREENS BY MY MANLY THIGHS!"

That this is even the generic defense says a lot about the sense of entitlement. Because even if sitting with your legs together turns your balls to a paste I DONT FUCKING CARE. I don't expect you to care that if I sit with my knees together my fat thighs squish my junk, and I expect you to care even less that my thong is wedged too far up my ass and I'd really like to open my legs and have a good root around and straighten it all out and let the breeze flow freely around my foof. Instead I accept: my bits, my problem. I also have a bad back and I'd actually rather lie flat across three seats but I don't because I'm not a total selfish fuckwit expecting the world to give a shit about my physical discomfort. Boo-hoo all you want about your poor nuts but it's not my problem, so suck it the fuck up and get out of my space.
posted by billiebee at 1:17 PM on June 4, 2015 [53 favorites]


Every time this comes up, some larger men - or those with unusual testicular problems - just have to point out that they don't always fit comfortably on public transport.

Look, I'm a larger guy or at least have been for most of my life. Yeah, holding my legs close enough together to not be in someone else's way is uncomfortable for me. But there are a lot of things that can make me uncomfortable riding public transportation that have nothing to do with the size and shape of my body. I just deal with it because I'm out in public and that's part of the deal when riding public transportation. You're going to be uncomfortable and you need to try and minimize how much discomfort you cause to those around you, crushed balls or not. If you want to be comfortable, don't ride public transportation.

I like to think that, if I worry about everyone else's comfort and everyone else returns the favor, I now have 2-5 people looking out for my comfort (that doesn't include myself) instead of just one. It sometimes means I'm looking out for other people's comfort and no one is returning the favor but I feel better knowing that I'm doing the right thing. My lightly crushed balls or slightly tired legs (from holding my legs together for 40 minutes) might disagree but they'll get over it.
posted by VTX at 1:17 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


This article is great! Deliberate manspreading on a crowded train is a problem, and the more people calling it out the better. My own tactic involves a light kick to the shoe blocking the empty seat and a pointed "excuse you." That or "move your bag/leg/whatever, I want to sit." I'm done excusing myself to these jerks.
posted by ants at 1:18 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Except they will, and have. And will more than likely appliy the law, shall we say, unevenly? http://gothamist.com/2015/05/28/manspreading_crackdown.php

Literally the same case linked to in the Snopes article, which could not be confirmed.

But, oh, what about the mens?
posted by maxsparber at 1:20 PM on June 4, 2015 [20 favorites]


So a major take away for me, from the Men Taking up too Much Space Tumbler, besides the asshat guys, is there is a lot of poorly designed public transit seating out there.
I mean seriously benches without clearly delineated seats? Benches facing each other so close that you can't avoid touching knees with someone across from you? Those setups are just asking for problems.
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:21 PM on June 4, 2015


we must drive them into the sea
posted by poffin boffin at 1:22 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Those setups are just asking for problems.

Especially when assholes use them as excuses.
posted by maxsparber at 1:22 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Max, my comment wasn't "What about the mens" more like "what about POC?" You think when it comes to enforcement that the NYPD isn't going to enforce a law like that more strictly against POC?
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:24 PM on June 4, 2015


I mean seriously benches without clearly delineated seats?

AFAIK, this exists so that larger people could actually sit comfortably on the train rather than have to sit with the seat-ends jutting into their ass.
posted by griphus at 1:24 PM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


ou think when it comes to enforcement that the NYPD isn't going to enforce a law like that more strictly against POC?

There is no law and there is no evidence of enforcement.
posted by maxsparber at 1:25 PM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, that news of the manspreading arrests was taken way, way out of context, but I think it points to a scary intersection of problems. Look at any of those manspreading blogs and you can see that the behavior is very common. If there is a law against taking up more than one seat, regardless of context, it's not being applied across the board, and is serving as a social control against specific 'types' of people. And that, like any other carte blanche law, should not be on the books. We cannot leave it up to potentially racist/classist/etc. authorities to use their judgment in cases like that. The law is obviously too broad if it criminalizes spreading out into clearly available space. Everyone does that.

As much as I'd like sometimes to make it illegal for people to do some of the things they do, I really think it's important to keep in mind potential consequences of criminalizing them. I'm not sure how you could even write a law that could be applied fairly in cases like this. The worst examples could probably already be classified as assault and/or battery, couldn't they?
posted by ernielundquist at 1:26 PM on June 4, 2015


If there is a law against taking up more than one seat, regardless of context, it's not being applied across the board, and is serving as a social control against specific 'types' of people.

There is no law. There is a code of conduct. What the hell is happening in this thread?

Oh, I know, a problem that actually affects women is being turned into a problem that we can pretend affects men.
posted by maxsparber at 1:27 PM on June 4, 2015 [46 favorites]


Racism in law enforcement is a very serious problem, as is the implicit bias against people of color in application of Broken Windows theory.

Regardless, men should still refrain from giving their balls their own seat on crowded public transportation.

Thank you.
posted by argonauta at 1:27 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can I use this thread to send a big fuck you back in time to 2000, to the guy on the bus I took home from work who would always offer me his seat so that he could then stand behind me and grind his business-casual-clad boner against my shoulder? I was 25 and couldn't figure out how to turn him down, particularly when he would get up when he saw me coming and then stand blocking the aisle while gesturing chivalrously at the seat.

I realize it's not technically manspreading but I feel like it is a related topic.
posted by KathrynT at 1:28 PM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


maxsparber: I don't want to get into an argument with you (mostly because you're mostly right about other things), but there is indeed a law. This is a link to the Code of Conduct. Click the "Fines and Penalties" link and it's clear that the MTA code of conduct has the force of law.
posted by 4th number at 1:29 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


maxsparber: I don't want to get into an argument with you (mostly because you're mostly right about other things), but there is indeed a law. This is a link to the Code of Conduct. Click the "Fines and Penalties" link and it's clear that the code of conduct has the force of law.

Regardless, there is literally no evidence that this is a thing; there is no evidence the men were arrested for this. If you want to argue against codes of conduct because they negatively impact POC, then the entire code is a problem, not just manspreading.
posted by maxsparber at 1:30 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


You could use "the NYPD will unfairly enforce this" as an argument against the creation or enforcement of literally any law because it will be true for literally any law.
posted by griphus at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2015 [30 favorites]


Max, there is no such argument going on. Manspreading is not a problem that affect women. It's a problem that affects everyone that uses public transit. It's a bad thing. Period.
There was discussion in this very thread about using law to address this problem. Uneven enforcement of similar laws was being used to point out why this is not a good way to address this issue.
If that wasn't clear enough. Man spreading bad. Uneven application of laws by law enforcement against POC is also bad.
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:33 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can I use this thread to send a big fuck you back in time to 2000, to the guy on the bus I took home from work who would always offer me his seat so that he could then stand behind me and grind his business-casual-clad boner against my shoulder? I was 25 and couldn't figure out how to turn him down, particularly when he would get up when he saw me coming and then stand blocking the aisle while gesturing chivalrously at the seat.

Ugh GROSS GROSS GROSS that is really really gross and awful and creepy and horrible and I'm so sorry that happened to you. I especially hate that he brings you into it with his creepy seat offering, like, it's bad enough that you're going to be super horrible and disgusting and pervy but really you have to act like we're friends and you're being polite? I don't know if there's a term for this but it always feels like something akin to gaslighting to me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:34 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I haven't read this whole thread, but part of the reason it isn't just ignorance or obliviousness or whatever is that oftentimes when a guy is doing this next to you he'll press his thighs out against yours with increasing pressure so he can take up as much of your space as possible while also being creepily sexual.

No excuse.
posted by sweetkid at 1:35 PM on June 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


KathrynT, no that's not manspreading, that sexual assault. That's fucking awful. So sorry.
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:35 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


griphus: You could use "the NYPD will unfairly enforce this" as an argument against the creation or enforcement of literally any law because it will be true for literally any law

I agree, and further, I think it's an excellent argument against literally any law.
posted by 4th number at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Manspreading is not a problem that affect women. It's a problem that affects everyone that uses public transit.

Weird that you would make the case that the problem with the code is that would disproportionately affect POC, but then completely ignore that manspreading disproportionately affects women.
posted by maxsparber at 1:36 PM on June 4, 2015 [24 favorites]


If that wasn't clear enough. Man spreading bad. Uneven application of laws by law enforcement against POC is also bad.

When that happens, I'm sure there will be a discussion about it. Until then, it's not relevant.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:37 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Griphus, that's a valid point, and it makes me incredibly angry. Gah.
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:38 PM on June 4, 2015


I think it's an excellent argument against literally any law.

Or, y'know, for working towards ending systemic racism as opposed to breaking down the basic rules of society.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


he'll press his thighs out against yours with increasing pressure so he can take up as much of your space as possible while also being creepily sexual.

I just pull my legs up onto the seat to sit cross-legged and jam my bony fucking knees into their thighs with the mighty strength of my mia hamm quads. Also the bottom of my (filthy, revolting, having touched nyc sidewalks all day) sneakers will now be touching his legs.

then, the manson smile
posted by poffin boffin at 1:40 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


honestly i might just start wearing sandals and touching people with my toes until the inevitable fetishist ruins it for me.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:41 PM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yes, sweetkid. I had a guy once crush me in against the windowseat with his leg and I would not yield. He pushed harder and harder with each stop. I was TERRIFIED about getting off at my stop, and actually had to force incredible polite excuse me voice cause I thought his aggression was so out of norm as to be alarming. Disturbing entitlement? Hatred of women? I don't know but bleh. I've had run of the mill manspreaders too, and other incidents like being forcibly shoved out of the way by men. So uncool.
posted by agregoli at 1:42 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


honestly i might just start wearing sandals and touching people with my toes until the inevitable fetishist ruins it for me.

It might get you cast in a Tarantino film.
posted by maxsparber at 1:42 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Poffin, there is no way I'd have room to sit pretzel style on a CTA seat!
posted by agregoli at 1:42 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am so goddamn sick of the "laws and mores that protect women hurt POC men." There's a lot more shit that hurts POC men than their inability to lavaball.
posted by corb at 1:43 PM on June 4, 2015 [22 favorites]


max, while I obviously concede that the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators are men. Those extra seats being occupied by their knees are seats that are unavailable to men or women since well mass and two objects occupying the same space.
It's not like these sociopaths acquiesce to requests to move from men. Hell that's just a challenge to them to see who is the bigger man.
Now it's very likely that these sorts of people are also sexist, and will cause more problems for women.
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


honestly i might just start wearing sandals and touching people with my toes until the inevitable fetishist ruins it for me.

I guess we could use the time to fetishist (or "TTF") as a much more accurate way of measuring out a millisecond than cesium vibrations or whatever.
posted by griphus at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


there is no way I'd have room to sit pretzel style on a CTA seat

just imagine that where one might have testicles, you have huge egg sacs full of brown recluse spiders that if disturbed will cover you completely with necrotizing fasciitis and skittering legs.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:47 PM on June 4, 2015 [12 favorites]


life finds a way
posted by poffin boffin at 1:47 PM on June 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


It's not like these sociopaths acquiesce to requests to move from men.

Sure they do. They do for me.

There was a study cited elsewhere that men will yield the sidewalk to other men, and then not to women. This thread is full of stories about how men act aggressively toward women who challenge them, and yet there are very few similar stories about the same behavior toward men. This is sometimes coupled with sexually inappropriate behavior, which is not done to men.
posted by maxsparber at 1:48 PM on June 4, 2015 [22 favorites]


i would like to formally apologize for that mental image.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:49 PM on June 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


Hmm, I live in a Midwestern city with limited public transport. Balls are obviously more compact out here since I almost never see cars driven by men with their left leg flung out the open driver's door.
posted by that's how you get ants at 1:50 PM on June 4, 2015 [43 favorites]


[MrBobaFett, maybe ease off some in here? We don't need a pointless derail over the exact percentages of how many of these dudes will hypothetically yield to men vs. women.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:51 PM on June 4, 2015 [13 favorites]


thanks, poffin boffin, now I want to reread the entire Dagger and the Coin series
posted by NoraReed at 1:52 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Of course unfair policing affects everything, but if you look at the "code of conduct" that those men were reportedly handcuffed and appeared in front of a judge for, the code is clearly too vague. The code says that you can't take up more than one seat if it inconveniences other passengers, but it is highly unlikely that it was inconveniencing anyone else at the time the arrests were made. 'Inconvenience' is a pretty vague and unquantifiable standard to apply for a rule that carries such harsh penalties.

Here's the relevant excerpt:

On a recent visit to the arraignment part in Brooklyn’s criminal court, PROP volunteers observed that police officers had arrested two Latino men on the charge of “man spreading” on the subway, presumably because they were taking up more than one seat and therefore inconveniencing other riders. Before issuing an [adjournment contemplating dismissal] for both men, the judge expressed her skepticism about the charge because of the time of the arrests: “12:11AM, I can’t believe there were many people on the subway”.

According to that, they were arrested by police officers, and were appearing in criminal court on those charges.

So maybe it needs to be more specific, and left less up to the judgment of authorities, like other laws are. Maybe it should specify that you may not take up more than one seat when there are no empty rows on the car, so that at the very least, there's a slightly higher bar that leaves decisions less up to the judgment of enforcers.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:00 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Every time this comes up, some larger men - or those with unusual testicular problems - just have to point out that they don't always fit comfortably on public transport.

Dude, we know. Not only do we know because of your obvious size, we know because your demeanor isn't the same


Sorry if I contributed to that derail but it was a response to this comment which strikes me as sort of off topic anyway. For the record, there is no defending manspreading from me, a large dude who somehow manages to not do that with no discomfort at all.
posted by Hoopo at 2:06 PM on June 4, 2015


I loved this article.

As a man, I find that if I slide into the space between manspreaders with my legs very squeezed together, then gently decompress back to normal, I am usually ceded my rightful space, possibly because the same men who enjoy manspreading are horrified at the thought of physical contact with another man's thighs.

I have often wondered if I am challenging gender privilege with this action or just making use of my own. Or both. Hmm.
posted by oliverburkeman at 2:07 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


According to that, they were arrested by police officers, and were appearing in criminal court on those charges.

Didn't happen, though.
posted by KathrynT at 2:08 PM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


and now my mind is merging "mansplaining" and "manspreading" to come up with"manspraining". So thanks, thread.
posted by boo_radley at 2:11 PM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


I can't believe a woman would do such a thing and risk violence or sexual assault.

This is the worst, stupidest line of thinking ever. Don't stand up for yourself, ladies - you might get raped!

She is taking an open seat on public transportation. It is her right as a paying rider. If the dude doesn't want to get sit on, he should move his leg. It's as simple as that.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:12 PM on June 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


I think we can all make an exception for this guy, though, right? I would.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:12 PM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


KathrynT-- It was asserted that it happened by the Police Reform Organizing Project in this document. Do you have evidence that indicates they're mistaken or lying?
posted by 4th number at 2:15 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes. In this thread. Try to keep up.
posted by agregoli at 2:17 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Jess the Mess: "She is taking an open seat on public transportation. It is her right as a paying rider. If the dude doesn't want to get sit on, he should move his leg. It's as simple as that."

While I agree with her, no, this is not what she's doing. In one case she sat on a guy, real hard, on purpose, in another case, she moved a guy's backpack (fine) and then kicked him as she sat down (not fine). While I totally sympathize, I'd also be extremely unsurprised if keeping that up will get her an aggressive reaction at some point.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:19 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


and now my mind is merging "mansplaining" and "manspreading" to come up with"manspraining". So thanks, thread.

so "manspraining" is when dudes can't shut up about how they have to do this because of their lava-esque balls?
posted by NoraReed at 2:19 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


agregoli: There's that Snopes article that says, basically, that the only evidence it occurred is the testimony of PROP volunteers. That strikes me as a trustworthy source absent any reason to think otherwise.
posted by 4th number at 2:19 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


So what are you arguing again?
posted by agregoli at 2:21 PM on June 4, 2015


so "manspraining" is when dudes can't shut up about how they have to do this because of their lava-esque balls?

A "mansprain" is the severe groinular injury that forces dudes to expand their legs out lest they suffer debilitating pain.
posted by griphus at 2:21 PM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


"There is one source which other sources are quoting" does not mean "this definitely never happened"
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:22 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you have evidence that indicates they're mistaken or lying?

Yes, in the link provided in the comment to which you replied. The men who were arrested had other outstanding warrants. It is simply not true that they were arrested only for manspreading, and there's no evidence that manspreading was one of the charges.
posted by KathrynT at 2:23 PM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


I thought mansprains were when men jump so quickly to explain why a woman's ideas are Wrong, they sprain something in the process.

No?
Oh.
posted by Ashen at 2:24 PM on June 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


It was asserted that it happened by the Police Reform Organizing Project in this document.

Sounds like a great thing to bring up in one of the many threads on police abuse of power. Meanwhile, this one is about annoying shit that happens to women on an everyday basis.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:24 PM on June 4, 2015 [21 favorites]


[A couple comments deleted. Folks, if your point is that women should just avoid men doing this, that's not a helpful comment. 4th number, at this point ease back, your point about possible abuse of rules has been made and getting into the exact niceties of one example is just a heated derail.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:29 PM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


The article you're linking to, here, says this. I'll bold.

It’s possible that two unnamed men were arrested in New York City for manspreading, but no details about the claim were made available in the original report or any of the many later repetitions of it. The scant information included with it suggested that the men were possibly arrested not for manspreading, but for arrest warrants already active at the time they came to the attention of the NYPD.

That article concludes that either scenario is possible, and the code of conduct is vague enough that it is possible that someone could be arrested for that, whether that specific event happened or not.

It's also worth noting that the arrest warrants were issued for other minor violations, which was the focus of the report the account was found in (PDF). How minor 'broken window' offenses criminalize people unfairly. I read that report when the manspreading story was initially extracted from it, in fact, and I do think that it's well worth taking into consideration when evaluating how to approach things from an enforcement perspective.

I am all for doing what we can to call attention to and address the issues of men feeling entitled to women's spaces and bodies. I am super-loud about it. But I'm not OK with addressing it by expanding police powers with vague, subjective measures like this.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:29 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's that Snopes article that says, basically, that the only evidence it occurred is the testimony of PROP volunteers.

You have to be really into selective reading to get that out of the Snopes article. Like, you have to skim past these passages, which call into question the vailidity of the PROP report:

The site cited PROP director Robert Gangi and explained the source of the 117 “vignettes” that appeared in the report on Broken Windows policing. Gangi told Gothamist that the claims were compiled from various sources and “were usually based on court testimony — and occasionally on conversations with defendants and lawyers, or reviewing lawsuits or news reports”

So, they could've gotten this information from a conversation with one of the defendants, or one of the lawyers. I'm not going to place a bunch of faith in something whose cite miiiight be "a conversation we had with a lawyer, who we're not naming".

Missing from all claims about the manspreading arrests were the specific criminal codes under which the men were purportedly charged, the date of the infractions in question (or whether “recently” was in the last week, month or year), the names of the men charged, their ages, where the incident may have occurred, or any other information attesting to the fact two men were arrested in New York City at any point in history for quality of life crimes related to manspreading. Moreover, the original claim specified that the two men purportedly arrested for manspreading both had outstanding warrants, which in and of itself is cause to be ordered to appear in court and rarely culminates in being let go with just a warning.

I have no idea why you'd want to place faith in a story so lacking in details. Point to the case, point to the arrest record, point to a news story, point to anything that could verify the thing you want people to believe.


It’s possible that two unnamed men were arrested in New York City for manspreading, but no details about the claim were made available in the original report or any of the many later repetitions of it. The scant information included with it suggested that the men were possibly arrested not for manspreading, but for arrest warrants already active at the time they came to the attention of the NYPD.


Snopes believes that the "scant information" "suggested that the men were possibly arrested" "for warrants already active at the time".
posted by 23skidoo at 2:30 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


While I agree with her, no, this is not what she's doing. In one case she sat on a guy, real hard, on purpose, in another case, she moved a guy's backpack (fine) and then kicked him as she sat down (not fine). While I totally sympathize, I'd also be extremely unsurprised if keeping that up will get her an aggressive reaction at some point.

She ended up sitting on the first guy because his leg was on her seat.

In the second case of the guy being a dick on public trans, I'd also be extremely unsurprised if keeping that up will get him an aggressive reaction at some point - oh wait, it already did.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:34 PM on June 4, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'm so glad I don't have to ride the T anymore, but when I did, when I was crabbily making my way home from work on the goddamned Orange Line, which is just a magnet for rude assholes, I would do the "excuse me," followed by a louder "EXCUSE ME," and then I would just sit in the seat, shoving the manspreader's leg out of the way in the process. And then plant my feet and not move my leg over, no matter how hard the dude tried to make me. Because fuck that noise.

(The weirdest personal-space intrusion I ever had, though, wasn't with a manspreader, it was with a woman who sat down next to me and opened her newspaper to read, and spread it out so her arm was stretched out in front of my face. I said excuse me, and she ignored me, so I shifted so that my arm was gently nudging her arm away -- seriously, she had her arm extended so that the newspaper was flapping about five inches from my nose and her elbow was digging into me! She responded by pushing back, harder and harder. I didn't give in, so she kept shoving, until her arm was actually shaking from the effort. And never once even acknowledging my presence. It was so weird.)
posted by sarcasticah at 2:38 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Seriously. Like, do I believe that the police abuse code-of-conduct and minor public behavior laws in order to fill quotas and unjustly arrest and harass people of color? You bet your sweet ass I do, of course they do, that isn't even in question. Do I believe that this is a new law which is being used to threaten and cow the male population of New York City, an "expansion of police powers"? No, I do not. It's a violation of the MTA Code of Conduct, section 1050.7(j). I can't find a dated changelog for these rules, so I don't know when article J was added, but it comes before the section that says that it's also not OK to ride your bike or skateboard on the subway. If was added when the rest of its section was written, that was in June 1985 -- thirty years ago.
posted by KathrynT at 2:38 PM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


This again? I've said it before: this is a matter of too-low seat height. There's a lot of variation in height among Americans, and seats on public transport average that out. Men over, say, 6 feet or so are going to have some issues with low seats, namely that it makes their legs splay out.

Of course, men can control this and keep them straight. But it's simply easy to forget.
posted by zardoz at 2:40 PM on June 4, 2015


I didn't give in, so she kept shoving, until her arm was actually shaking from the effort.

this is a wig snatching situation but in this case the wig is the newspaper, you should have snatched it from her hands and thrown it to the floor to stomp on it.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:40 PM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Of course, men can control this and keep them straight. But it's simply easy to forget.

Fixed.
posted by billiebee at 2:42 PM on June 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Men over, say, 6 feet or so are going to have some issues with low seats, namely that it makes their legs splay out.

This is not a "legs too long" issue.
posted by KathrynT at 2:42 PM on June 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


I don't understand that photo.

Like he can't possibly be comfortable doing that. Not in those jeans at least. The amount of pressure on his junk from his inseam must be immense.

ur doing performative masculinity wrong bro

it's not supposed to destroy your junk
posted by griphus at 2:47 PM on June 4, 2015 [27 favorites]


Based on the dude's face I suspect he may actually be making fun of manspreading
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:50 PM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Men over, say, 6 feet or so are going to have some issues with low seats, namely that it makes their legs splay out.

My husband is 6' 4", most of it leg, and I've spent a lot of time with him as he sat in all manner of seats on all manner of transportation, and splaying his thighs all over creation has never been a behavior I've observed in him.

He is often quietly sad about his knees being crushed on airplanes, AND YET, he keeps his knees together. I suppose because he's POLITE.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:54 PM on June 4, 2015 [14 favorites]


So, they could've gotten this information from a conversation with one of the defendants, or one of the lawyers. I'm not going to place a bunch of faith in something whose cite miiiight be "a conversation we had with a lawyer, who we're not naming".

The report at large draws from various sources. The specific item in question is not from any of the above: "On a recent visit to the arraignment part in Brooklyn’s criminal court, PROP volunteers observed that police officers had arrested two Latino men on the charge of ‘man spreading' on the subway" doesn't leave much room for ambiguity here. (PROP's director noted in the Gothamist article that it was the first time their volunteers had actually heard the term "manspreading" used in court.) Either those volunteers were mistaken about what they actually witnessed the affected people being charged with, or they were lying, or it actually happened.

The blogger on Snopes.com speculates that the witnesses were mistaken, but provides no evidence of that speculation. And the fact that they'd previously been convicted of other "broken windows" offenses appears to be a red herring. KathrynT's claim that "It is simply not true that they were arrested only for manspreading, and there's no evidence that manspreading was one of the charges" amounts to "PROP is either mistaken or lying." And if that's what you want to believe, rock on, but Snopes has hardly offered much of a case for it.

(All of this is orthogonal to the question of whether any new laws are involved, which seems irrelevant to me. Also, the fact that this is being used as another tool in the generally odious "broken windows" toolkit is irrelevant to the fact that the practice itself is unacceptable.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 2:55 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


This again? I've said it before: this is a matter of too-low seat height.

Nope. Sorry. You're still very incorrect about what the problem is.

There is nothing wrong with these seats. Except that they are occupied by rude assholes with no consideration for others.

No one is bitching about tall people or fat people or tall, fat people. We're bitching about rude assholes. I promise, we can tell the difference.
posted by MissySedai at 2:57 PM on June 4, 2015 [25 favorites]


poffin boffin, I really just wanted to see how long she would keep it up! She did eventually get off the train (luckily before my stop, because I really didn't know how I was going to manage getting out from under her arm) and, when I got home, I had a small bruise from the pressure of her arm against mine -- and I don't bruise easily! (My attempt to get her to move involved putting my bag in my lap and resting my wrists on top of it, so that my forearm was pushing her arm out from in front of my face.)
posted by sarcasticah at 2:58 PM on June 4, 2015


[Folks, seriously, at this point please everybody drop the "Snopes vs police observer organization, what happened in this one incident" thing.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:59 PM on June 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


You could use "the NYPD will unfairly enforce this" as an argument against the creation or enforcement of literally any law because it will be true for literally any law.

You make a convincing case for anarchy.
posted by Rangi at 3:01 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sarcasticah, I've had several versions of this happen to me over the years too!
posted by agregoli at 3:02 PM on June 4, 2015


Really? SO WEIRD!
posted by sarcasticah at 3:04 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm still bummed "mansplaying" didn't win out for the term of choice for this behavior.
posted by Itaxpica at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think we should all take LobsterMitten out for a beer after this thread
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:22 PM on June 4, 2015 [54 favorites]


I think we should all take LobsterMitten out for a beer after this thread

Carpool, I presume?
posted by Xavier Xavier at 3:40 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


We will sit side-by-side and shuffle the lobster mitten from knee to knee by opening and closing our legs, until it arrives at it's destination.
posted by smidgen at 3:52 PM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'd be really interested in some in-depth "psychology of manspreading" research. I suspect it has something to do with male dominance hierarchy, like in primate behavior. These are the guys who walk into a public space filled with other unknown, potentially threatening members of their species and feel some primal undeveloped need to assert themselves. When I look at those men in poffin boffin's link, they seem unevolved in some curious way. I keep looking at this guy. He's overdoing it to the point where it's a ballerina move, and his facial expression makes him look like some strange, proud bird. I don't mean to excuse their behavior, there's just part of me that's curious what's going on in their head and I half-wonder whether there's some bizarre special connection these guys have to ape territorial mentalities that the rest of us can't access.
posted by naju at 3:55 PM on June 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Unnngh amateur evopsych, really?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:02 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mostly just laughing in disbelief, to be clear, I have zero scientific or pseudoscientific credentials.
posted by naju at 4:05 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


LOOK THROGDAR

THIS ONE HAS THE BIGGEST BALLS AND TAKES UP THE MOST OF OUR COMMUNAL SPACE

TO HIM LET US AWARD THE GREATEST STATUS AND SHARE OF RESOURCES
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:07 PM on June 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


And, naju said she'd be interested in research. Don't get the criticism there, Matt Oneiros.
posted by agregoli at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


He's overdoing it to the point where it's a ballerina move, and his facial expression makes him look like some strange, proud bird.

Yeah, dude's got sick turnout. On the other hand, maybe he actually is a dancer and is just using the opportunity to stretch in a particularly obnoxious way. Certainly looks like he's in better shape than a lot of the guys you see doing it.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 4:16 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or he may be smug to the point of sociopathy. It's hard to tell.
posted by gingerest at 4:34 PM on June 4, 2015


I got into an argument with someone on FB about this who claimed it was the foremost issue feminists are fighting against. He cited a Christina Hoff Sommers article about the "top 5 feminist myths" saying there aren't any other issues feminists are fighting against. I made a note that he drives everywhere and that Portland doesn't have a subway system, but they do have a light rail and bus system and even I, a male, have been incredibly annoyed by the legs thing. He didn't get it. Oh well.
posted by gucci mane at 4:43 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


if someone cites christina hoff sommers, chances are they will not listen to reason.
posted by nadawi at 4:46 PM on June 4, 2015 [17 favorites]


CHS is another one who, like Ann Coulter, is so jazzed by the approval of men that she would push her sister in front of a bus if she thought it would get her some indulgent male head-pats.
posted by gingerest at 4:54 PM on June 4, 2015 [16 favorites]


honestly i might just start wearing sandals and touching people with my toes until the inevitable fetishist ruins it for me.

Actually, spiked shoulder- and thigh-pads might solve this problem. Of course, the Mansplayers would get their own shoulder and thigh pads, and spiked codpieces, and then you'd have to get bigger, spikier stuff, and then we would have the Imperium of Manspreading.

On the plus side, Orks and flying skulls.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:54 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


CHS is another one who, like Ann Coulter, is so jazzed by the approval of men that she would push her sister in front of a bus if she thought it would get her some indulgent male head-pats.

They're both awful, but this is an incredibly misogynist dismissal. Women are capable of being misogynist (and classist and racist and xenophobic and Islamophobic) shitheads who believe terrible things without male approval as a motivation. There's no reason to believe they're insincere in their horribleness, and there's nothing useful gained by just repeating a classic sexist trope about how women form opinions that reinforces the idea that we don't have real agency like real (male) people.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 5:07 PM on June 4, 2015 [12 favorites]


My most egregious incident of people being inconsiderate on public transit was when I was living in Boston and had broken my ankle and had to take the green line. I was on crutches and literally could not keep my balance while the T was moving. People in the seats for the handicapped and elderly didn't even blink, and nor did anyone else. I located a man who was sitting in the aisle seat and asked to have the other seat. He turned sideways. I explained that since I was on crutches, I couldn't just scoot by him. He let me have the window seat but looked very put out about it, and went back to manspreading into the aisle.

If male anatomy were the issue rather than social dominance bullshit, I would think that transit seating would be designed to accommodate this issue rather than putting an expectation on women to squeeze ourselves into the tiniest spaces possible.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:10 PM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


Look, if women can keep their knees together on the train (and everywhere else), men can too (on mass transit and everywhere else). There aren't any excuses. It ain't hard.

Or didn't those MRA defenders want egalitarianism or whatever?
posted by qcubed at 5:11 PM on June 4, 2015


Also, dudes, if your balls are hot, get some fucking baby powder.
posted by qcubed at 5:14 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sorry, TM&MM, quislings are the worst, and abusing your agency to deprive other women of theirs is gross and hateful. Also, please stop throwing "us" and " we" around like you own womanhood.
posted by gingerest at 5:21 PM on June 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sorry, TM&MM, quislings are the worst, and abusing your agency to deprive other women of theirs is gross and hateful.

She's a conservative pundit, not Jan Brewer; she's not actually depriving anyone of anything and neither is Coulter. They are certainly gross and hateful, but that's no reason to be gross and hateful right back, and you have no leg to stand on to object to my use of "we" when talking about women when you're accusing other women of being Nazi sympathizers because they have different political opinions than you. Godwin, seriously? That's some gross and hateful shit right there.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2015


Bulgaroktonos: I once saw a woman, in probably her 60s, without flinching, sit directly on top of a bag someone had left on the seat next to them. I wanted to give her a high-five, but I didn't.

I actually snorted out loud with laughter when I read this comment. I probably would have done the same and applauded if I'd been there.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:31 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


re: quisling.

I feel bad for everyone else who had that surname who probably had to change it because of that moron.

But it's such a fun word to say. And it fits the meaning so well, at least in English.
posted by qcubed at 5:34 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


you're accusing other women of being Nazi sympathizers

No, she's not. That's the origin of the word, but not the meaning. A quisling is a traitor or collaborator with an occupying enemy. No Nazis required.

/derail
posted by MissySedai at 5:43 PM on June 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


[folks, you're welcome to take the pundit question offline but it's a derail here. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:43 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't understand that photo.

Like he can't possibly be comfortable doing that. Not in those jeans at least. The amount of pressure on his junk from his inseam must be immense.

ur doing performative masculinity wrong bro

it's not supposed to destroy your junk


He's probably wearing a cup just so that he can stretch into baroque space-taking positions which would otherwise make his balls explode
posted by clockzero at 6:03 PM on June 4, 2015


(I acknowledge this is a derail but I feel the need to say that I was not intentionally invoking Nazis. The term is broader than that as it's used, but I apologize to anyone I hurt by using a word associated with the Holocaust.)
posted by gingerest at 6:03 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Men that make the "it hurts, I have to spread out" argument really, really, really need to see a ball doctor.

Dudes, it's not normal. If it hurts your balls to sit straight you need to see somebody ASAP. Someone needs to tell you this, and I guess today it's me.

Go ahead, ask me about the guy who came into ER with grapefruit-sized balls while I was a kid doing temp paperwork for the hospital. Wanna guess what happened to him? Bad, bad, terrible things. Screaming and such. I was traumatized for like a month, no lie, and I didn't even witness the really ugly stuff (residents are ... great at scaring the newbie temps).

Seriously. See a doctor. Now.

No?

...then sit straight like a decent human being.
posted by aramaic at 6:11 PM on June 4, 2015 [26 favorites]


Okay, okay. This can't be a new thing. Who can recommend a good historical novel about the dangers of Manspreading in early Victorian mass transit?
posted by Twang at 6:12 PM on June 4, 2015


(Not to derail but if anyone would like to send me a rebuttal to the CHS' 5 feminist myths article she did on Times memail me thx!! I'm not good at that stuff and typically post articles and studies that no one reads)
posted by gucci mane at 6:24 PM on June 4, 2015


Ok, so I'm a woman and I am built like a linebacker and am fat on top of that. In the privacy and comfort of my apartment, I've got my legs splayed in glorious fashion. Who doesn't like to take up tons of space and air out their bits? HOWEVER, as so many others have pointed out, non-assholes know how to rein this in when moving through (or sitting in) public spaces!

Manspreading makes me so angry on multiple fronts: as a woman, I'm offended because of the ingrained male privilege on display, all the times even small/skinny dudes have annexed my armrest/footrest/part of the seat; and also because as a fatty I am keenly aware of just how much space I take up in public and am super careful not to infringe whenever possible. (Well, whenever people aren't raging assholes).

Latest example: I went to the theater over the weekend. It was an old place, with fairly narrow seats. I went to my assigned seat, and the (thin, average-sized) guy to my right, who'd been there before I got there, was leaning well into my seat space, sitting practically tipped over into my seat with his elbow on our shared seatrest. Even as I whispered an "excuse me" and seated myself, HE DID NOT STOP LEANING INTO MY SEAT SPACE. So then, with thighs of steel control that Suzanne Sommers herself would envy, I kept my left thigh pretty tense and pulled in so that I didn't infringe on the space of my lefthand seatmate. Leaning rightside guy? Got my fat thigh and knee digging in against his leg and my occasional "accidental" step on his foot the whole show whenever I shifted in my seat. (And also: given that he stood up and moved around quite freely during the intermissions, it's not that this guy was somehow disabled or hunchbacked or whatever. Nope: just a leaning asshole).

Was my left thigh kind of uncomfortable? Of course. But was it totally bearable for a few hours? Of course!
posted by TwoStride at 6:27 PM on June 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Whenever this topic comes up, a certain strain of apologist will cite biological reasons for manspreading (see here, for example). I really, really want to follow one of these people (men, presumably) around and see how they sit when they're not on public transit. Is this how they sit when they're driving? On an airplane? At the dinner table? In a restaurant? At a job interview? In church?
posted by mhum at 6:38 PM on June 4, 2015 [21 favorites]


This is a beautiful symbiosis.
posted by fraxil at 6:47 PM on June 4, 2015


Whenever this topic comes up, a certain strain of apologist will cite biological reasons for manspreading

This reminds me of Larry Craig's "Wide Stance" defense. I believe he had his apologists, too.
posted by biddeford at 7:01 PM on June 4, 2015


I have noticed that no one usually expects a 5'2" Asian woman to knee them in the groin. I got pushed between a manspreader's legs once on a crowded train, and then he tried to squeeze me between his thighs, and I'm not saying how I handled the situation except that the dude in question seemed surprised.

I'm not saying this is how man-ballers/lava-spreaders should generally or even ever be handled, but it was fairly satisfying the one time.
posted by brina at 7:01 PM on June 4, 2015 [31 favorites]


"cool nut breeze yogi"

"thanks, booboo"
posted by rifflesby at 7:07 PM on June 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


As a gay guy who's a bit more on the (socialized) feminine side of awareness of the impact my body has on others in public spaces (hard to explain...) this is a huge pet peeve of mine. I have normal testicles (again, I'm gay, so I know this from much experience) and there is absolutely no physical/biological reason men need to sit this way. The thing is, I think for many guys, it's not even conscious on their part. It's ingrained into their being that it is their privilege to take up as much space as possible.

For me, like I said above, this is not the case. I am very conscious (to a fault) of how much space I take up and if I'm potentially annoying someone else. Because of this, when I sit next to an asshole manspreader, I think like many women, I have an initial reaction of suppressing my annoyance and acquiescing the space. I think most men who are less neurotic/gay/whatever about the whole thing get subconsciously treated more respectfully and the manspreader meets them on a more equal level (they pull in the legs). I mean, I've never seen two straight manly manspreaders bumping thighs (god forbid) or knees. There is a subconscious acknowledgement of equality and respect.

Anyway, as I've gotten older, I've realized that, like the writer, consciously asserting myself more (in my case, asserting my privilege as a man) I am treated with begrudging respect in regards to my space. I'm very thankful that I don't have to go to as an extreme level as the writer does to get the same.

I've put way too much thought into this, I'm realizing....
posted by the lake is above, the water below at 7:12 PM on June 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


I've put way too much thought into this, I'm realizing....

I wish that everyone put as much thought into it as you have. For reals.
posted by futz at 7:26 PM on June 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Ok, so I'm a woman and I am built like a linebacker and am fat on top of that.

Hello, long lost sister!

I have gained incredible ass and thigh strength from bellydancing. It helps when fending off assholes on the bus, in the theater, on the train. Give it a try!
posted by MissySedai at 7:47 PM on June 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I believe that good etiquette on public transportation is what distinguishes us from animals, but when I was taking the subway daily I never noticed this particular thing as either a widespread problem or a gender-related issue. Where I live now public transportation is just little van buses and being rude is mostly just not scooting down to let someone sit and it doesn't follow any gender trends as far as I can see.
posted by snofoam at 8:10 PM on June 4, 2015


As a straight man, when I get lavaballed it's always been by what I've always assumed is the same demographic that has put me on the business end of dominance displays since before anyone's lavaballs dropped. For me, pushing back (thigh versus thigh, digging in/asserting my right to my space) doesn't work. I eventually give in and feel emasculated (even though I feel stupid that it makes me feel emasculated), or I push back until one of us reaches our destination (because it's a game to him and he's enjoying it, so he's sure not going to stop). I just stand on the train now, even if there are empty seats.

The connection to pedestrian dynamics makes sense, and figuring out how to carry myself such that men of that sort wouldn't shoulder check me out of the way was a project and, eventually, a relief. I don't lavaball, but this isn't the first time I've wondered whether the habits I had to build to keep from getting bullied or pushed around might have led me to make the world worse for others in turn. I've armored myself, but that leaves the assholes armed. I admire the author.
posted by OnSecondThought at 8:16 PM on June 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wish that everyone put as much thought into it as you have. For reals.

Adding my Thank You. That you are self-aware and thoughtful is very much appreciated.
posted by MissySedai at 8:21 PM on June 4, 2015


Cassie J. is a hero. There should be a medal for sitting on lavaballers.
posted by homunculus at 8:50 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you're encountering this sort of thing a lot, training oneself to silently emit an eye-watering fart would be a hilarious solution. Especially if you then leap up and point at the jerk, denouncing him for both the man spreading and evil stench.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:07 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I believe that good etiquette on public transportation is what distinguishes us from animals

while many animals do take up too much space on public transit, there are also some who are very good about staying on one seat; some even politely stand
posted by NoraReed at 10:09 PM on June 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


This comic.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:37 PM on June 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Another amusing thought: do the old scratch-n-sniff (rear side, of course), then offer to share. That should discomfit the jerk. Finish by accidentally wiping your fingers on his leg.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:49 PM on June 4, 2015


I Have Been Sitting on Manspreaders For the Last Month and I Have Never Felt More Free

At first I thought "manspreader" was some sort of vehicle, like a chopper.
posted by WalkingAround at 2:35 AM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


From Men Defending Their Balls: A Superpoem:

we have testicles! I for one have to unbutton my belt when I sit down cause my crotch is too big.

It's not your crotch that's too big, dude. Or you're wearing your belt incorrectly, I dunno.
posted by harriet vane at 3:41 AM on June 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also from the poem:
like women and their bra
Yeah I'm never done taking off my bra on public transport and flinging my boobs out into the seats beside me.
posted by billiebee at 4:55 AM on June 5, 2015 [11 favorites]


These whiners with their unruly, tender balls need to learn to do whatever the male equivalent of Kegels are to stow the boys. Browse r/spacedicks and it will happen involuntarily. I can yank up the undercarriage with a thought I'm like a goddamn Bene Gesserit down there now.
posted by um at 5:13 AM on June 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


As a fat woman, manspreading fills me with rage because NO ONE allows me the amount of space my body actually needs. I have had many people literally smoosh me into the room of one seat, even though my body clearly cannot fit in one of the tiny subway seats. This happens even when there are lanky teens who each weigh about a half of my body weight "teenspreading" all over three full seats, also with backbacks sitting on the forward facing seat closest to them. Most of the time, I honestly end up standing, because my hips hurt terribly if I am confined into a tighter space than their natural "spread" requires. See also, the horrible agony of budget airlines and coach buses.
posted by SassHat at 8:34 AM on June 5, 2015 [4 favorites]




What's the word for when tall guys cross their arms and lean forward against the seat in front of them? I always get the feeling they're trying to look down my shirt, so I spend the whole trip leaning forward with my elbows on my knees. If I don't, I can feel their breath on my neck and it creeps me right the fuck out.
posted by domo at 11:33 AM on June 5, 2015


she had her arm extended so that the newspaper was flapping about five inches from my nose and her elbow was digging into me

I have an unfortunate reflex of licking any part of a person that surprises me by coming too close to my face unexpectedly.

Should I have managed to curb that reflex in time, I admit I might be tempted to sneeze, but I expect I would have been too uncomprehendingly shocked and bewildered by that situation to do anything other than mumble i don't...i don't understand what's happening
posted by you must supply a verb at 2:33 PM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


What's the word for when tall guys cross their arms and lean forward against the seat in front of them?

Space Invaders.
posted by MissySedai at 10:02 PM on June 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pew pew pew
posted by The Whelk at 10:36 PM on June 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Not going to lie. I manspread sometimes when I am on the bus and the seats are empty around me. Anyone comes to sit down, that changes.

I am, however, quite guilty of the bag thing. Sometimes I need to hit local food pantries via bus, and I have a duffle and a tote of food. Our buses tend to have a minimum of foot/leg space and nowhere to put anything but person parts. As I prefer not to have my food soccered about, I have to set it in a seat. Once again, I will sit it in my lap if someone needs a seat though.
posted by Samizdata at 1:25 PM on June 6, 2015


Then, samizdata....you're not who people are talking about here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:04 PM on June 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is not a "legs too long" issue.

I don't understand that photo.

Like he can't possibly be comfortable doing that. Not in those jeans at least. The amount of pressure on his junk from his inseam must be immense.

ur doing performative masculinity wrong bro

it's not supposed to destroy your junk


Guess what folks? That photo is ME!

In it, I am neither making fun of manspreading, nor am I manspreading in the traditionally disrespectful manner. I was basically trolling the tumblr account in which it originally appeared.

As you can see, there is nobody next to me. I'm on the 1 train, in NYC at a very off peak hour. The train was nearly empty. Therefore no women were displaced by this manspread. Further, my partner was sitting directly across from me, so nobody but her had to watch my crotch.

We took this picture because we knew it would get put up on the "men taking up too much space on the subway" blog immediately, without any question from the blog's author about it's context. Also, my parter had met the blog's author at parties in NYC and found him kind of obnoxious. The idea that someone would make this their activism priority also seemed whacked, so we decided to play with him.

We took the pic, she sent it in, and within about a week, I my crotch became the international face of manspreading. The image has been reused by dozens of news outlets with my head cropped off, and of course nobody bothered trying to get a photo credit.

For the record, I am not pro-manspreading, and that pose was quite uncomfortable. I'm not very flexible and that was about as far as I could go.

This was my facebook profile pic for a while. We got a lot of laughs out of it and it seems to have taken up a life of it's own. I get notes about it popping up in news pieces a few times a month. I've been meaning to re-shoot this in other cities, in costume, to see if I can get on the tumblr again without the guy who runs it noticing it's me again.

And now you know the rest of the story.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:11 PM on June 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


So you were willing to be thought an insufferable jerk by a large audience of strangers to prove that the blogger doesn't verify the pictures aren't staged?

The world is very big, and full of people whose motives and actions surprise me.
posted by gingerest at 9:32 PM on June 6, 2015 [29 favorites]


I just wanted my crotch to be internet famous, really. Thought it would be funny. My entire social circle thought it was. I still get a chuckle out of it every once in a while. My junk was on Russia Today last week.

And then there's THIS THING THAT MADE MY WHOLE YEAR.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:42 PM on June 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry I called you a strange, proud bird.
posted by naju at 9:59 PM on June 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's cool. Kinda what I was going for actually.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 10:05 PM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that much is pretty clear by now.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:33 AM on June 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


The idea that someone would make this their activism priority also seemed whacked...

Why?
posted by harriet vane at 3:05 AM on June 7, 2015


The idea that someone would make this their activism priority also seemed whacked...

Mr Pot allow me to introduce you to Mr Kettle
posted by billiebee at 3:19 AM on June 7, 2015 [22 favorites]



I just wanted my crotch to be internet famous, really.


This is....like, the most purely-expressed distillation of "what motivates a troll." It's....strangely beautiful.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 AM on June 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


how is your junk
posted by griphus at 6:34 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


i guess getting really into taking pictures of your clothed junk and getting them on tumblrs dedicated to showing ridiculous masculine bullshit is less awful than the ones who are super into doing that with one's naked junk but it's still dumb
posted by NoraReed at 7:24 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:24 AM on June 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


i like to pretend to be a dinosaur
posted by NoraReed at 7:35 AM on June 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


... That's where I'm a Viking's junk?
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on June 7, 2015


I am eagerly awaiting the debut of Broadway's newest hit: That's My Crotch! The Musical.
posted by zarq at 9:35 AM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


how is your junk

magnificent.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 9:54 AM on June 7, 2015


I think your picture is funny, so thumbs up. The contrast between the tight upper body pose and the full spread of the legs is what really makes it.

However, I think you're off in your assessment of activism priorities. This general sort of behavior is a pretty big deal, added up. It's one of those microaggression things, where each discrete instance could be explained away, but when you add up all the discrete instances, it's an insidious trend where men are socialized to claim their space and women are socialized to make room for them.

And how do you illustrate something like that to people who have spent their lives in a culture that normalizes that? One good way is to show them pictures of egregious examples of it. True, not all of the pictures are all that egregious necessarily, but like microaggressions, they add up, and they show that this is something more than just a series of isolated incidents. No one example stands alone, so you can't prove or disprove the phenomenon based on a single incident.

It's still a funny picture, though.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:31 AM on June 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


And now you know the rest of the story.

...and it ain't as impressive as you seem to think it ought to be.
posted by MissySedai at 6:41 PM on June 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


that's the case pretty much every time a cis dude talks about his crotch though
posted by NoraReed at 8:11 PM on June 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


And now you know the rest of the story.

lol. this really delights me. good job.
posted by jayder at 8:57 PM on June 7, 2015


There must be a limited number of splayed legged sleeping positions available to those inflicted with whatever condition necessitates sitting with legs at an obtuse angle.

OK so there is no such condition, they probably don't sleep in the crab position, but sitting like that for any length of time does contort the lower back, so maybe the injury resulting would be a mansprain?
posted by asok at 11:48 PM on June 7, 2015


Manspreader in Chief
posted by latkes at 8:33 AM on June 8, 2015


The smug manspreading guy in that picture is actually me!
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 0:11 on June 7


Cool story, bro.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:55 AM on June 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


Fifteen years ago we were catching the train from Spencer Street Station to Sunbury. It was evening rush hour and the carriages were always packed. I found a pair of empty seats, my girlfriend at the time sat in one, and in the other there was a bunch of rubbish which, me being a good citizen, I collected and took to the bin near the doors. Somebody took that opportunity to nick my seat. My girlfriend explained that it was taken and that I was putting somebody else's rubbish in the bins. The guy shook his head and said he didn't care. I was much more meek then than I am now and I didn't do shit and I've been angry about it ever since.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:01 PM on June 8, 2015


... Does telling us about it help? Because if so, I shall start relating my own tales of transit rage.
posted by asperity at 5:52 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


leaving the seat by the window empty. You're not fooling anyone, you are trying to have those two seats to yourself.

As mentioned above, some people can't handle sitting by the window with a stranger between them and the aisle. I did it the other day because I didn't want the creepy staring guy to sit in the aisle seat (he could have had the window). I also did it when there was trash on the window seat that I wasn't going to touch. If someone wanted the window seat, they'd need to touch it.
posted by soelo at 10:22 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


... Does telling us about it help?

My point is everybody is a jerk on public transport. Any time two or more humans are in proximity with each other, one of them is going to find something they don't like about the other person. And people are going to seek out maximum comfort and benefit for themselves at the expense of others. So I guess what I'm saying is, all humans are rubbish.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:43 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm just worried I'm still going to be angry about individual small-scale rubbish-human incidents for years to come. If sharing on MetaFilter is a good way to handle that, I need to know!

... Or I should start celebrating Festivus. A yearly Airing of Grievances seems like a fantastic idea.
posted by asperity at 3:30 PM on June 9, 2015


I found a pair of empty seats, my girlfriend at the time sat in one, and in the other there was a bunch of rubbish which, me being a good citizen, I collected and took to the bin near the doors. Somebody took that opportunity to nick my seat. My girlfriend explained that it was taken and that I was putting somebody else's rubbish in the bins. The guy shook his head and said he didn't care.

I....kind of side with the other guy, I think. It's not exactly fair to say that a given seat on public transit is "your seat" unless your ass happens to be actually in it, and having someone else "save" your seat is kind of a slippery-slope situation. It was kind of dickish of the guy to not yield when you came back - and to be honest, if I'd been the one who sat down but then saw you coming back all sadface, I'd have offered to give my seat up. But I do not think I would be under any obligation to do so and nor was that guy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hit "post" too soon - one big argument against the "seat saving' is that the people with bags or the manspreaders could claim that they're "saving a seat" for someone else, and then when that other person doesn't show up, well, oopsie.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:15 PM on June 9, 2015


Uh, if you nab a seat while someone is throwing away the trash that made the seat unavailable, you're a seat-stealing jerk. "Saving" doesn't come into it except that the "saver" is bearing witness that your ass would already be in the seat if you were willing to be a littering jerk and just throw the trash on the floor.

(I have strong feelings about littering and about people who push good samaritans around.)
posted by gingerest at 8:55 PM on June 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'll admit that it is a gray area, but it's an easy principle to enforce - what if I was only just getting on the train and didn't know that "oh there was trash in that empty seat that someone was ditching", and if all I saw was the empty seat? How would I know if the person I sat next to just CLAIMED that so-and-so had been there already?

I can see your case if we all got on together, all three of us looked at the seat, and I saw the guy take the trash and go to throw it out and then sat down - but if I was just getting on, how would I know what was going on?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:28 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it just means that you should always at least start by asking nicely and give the other person a chance to do the right thing. Either they're just absent minded and they'll happily move (or move their things or whatever) or they'll double down on being an a-hole and they'll look more like an a-hole in the face of your polite request. Once they've proven to be an a-hole, feel free to unleash your wrath upon them or shame them into a decent human being or whatever.
posted by VTX at 7:03 AM on June 10, 2015


My girlfriend explained that it was taken and that I was putting somebody else's rubbish in the bins

The person already seated, telling you it is taken, is one hell of a clue. Why would you choose to disbelieve her? Do you make a habit of lying to strangers? Why assume she does?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:05 AM on June 10, 2015


i don't understand how this thread is now about littering and seat stealing.
posted by nadawi at 7:13 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because it happened to a dude
posted by shakespeherian at 7:14 AM on June 10, 2015 [21 favorites]


Because we're over 400 comments in and conversations begin to meander by this point.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:10 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


weird how these types of threads always meander to men by the end.
posted by nadawi at 8:14 AM on June 10, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's such a common occurrence, there should probably be a name for it.
(The Manhole Effect?)
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:54 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Haha down The Manhole again! Love it!
posted by agregoli at 8:56 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Because we're over 400 comments in and conversations begin to meander by this point.

Let's meander them back to the actual topic of this thread, manspreading on public transportation.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:29 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


memandering
posted by NoraReed at 9:30 AM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


O.K., I'll go back to the "actual topic." I have a question I'd like to ask those with strong opinions about "manspreading": is the objection to men taking up more than on seatspace (and the associated air space above and in front of the seat) in any circumstances or only to doing so when the bus/train becomes sufficiently full that it is either impossible or difficult to find an alternative seat? In other words, if someone sits down in a relaxed pose with their legs spread in a nearly-empty carriage (such that, by normal Western rules of proxemics it would be a solecism for a stranger to sit next to them in any case), is that still "manspreading" or is that o.k. so long as they contract themselves into the more compact/restricted space as the carriage/bus begins to fill?
posted by yoink at 10:02 AM on June 10, 2015


in my experience the manspreaders either don't contract themselves when the bus or whatever starts filling up or only does it when literally every other seat is taken. they don't seem to recognize (or care?) the begins to fill part, they'll only begrudgingly give up the extra space when people are seriously running out of options. and really it all goes back to how men are socialized to take up more space and women are socialized to make ourselves as small as possible.

if a man spreads in a train and no one is there to see him, does he cause a fuss? i don't think so. it's that many of us have experiences with the type who do it in already too crammed spaces.
posted by nadawi at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


If it's not full and lots of empty seats it doesn't bug me. I might spread me or my things in that situation. I notice others of both genders do too. As soon as it starts filling and getting busier then I retract to ensure there's space and most other spreaders do too.
posted by Jalliah at 10:11 AM on June 10, 2015


I have a question I'd like to ask those with strong opinions about "manspreading": is the objection to men taking up more than on seatspace (and the associated air space above and in front of the seat) in any circumstances or only to doing so when the bus/train becomes sufficiently full that it is either impossible or difficult to find an alternative seat? In other words, if someone sits down in a relaxed pose with their legs spread in a nearly-empty carriage (such that, by normal Western rules of proxemics it would be a solecism for a stranger to sit next to them in any case), is that still "manspreading" or is that o.k. so long as they contract themselves into the more compact/restricted space as the carriage/bus begins to fill?

As long as it's "begins to fill". What I notice is people who wait until The Very Last Second when they have the very last extra space to grudgingly move over, and what this often means is that people getting onto a crowded bus either don't see them, figure they're hard cases and get nervous about asking them to move or have already just decided to stand.

When there are a handful of seats left, that's the time to start sitting in a normal manner.

Basically, it requires that the 'spreaders pay attention to the world around them and consider the needs of others in a dynamic manner, something that most women are socialized to do but many men are socialized to avoid.
posted by Frowner at 10:16 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


I feel like it has been consistently expressed in this thread that nobody has an issue with men spreading out when there is room on public transportation. The issue seems to be the fact that this continues to happen when the bus or train is crowded, and either prevents people (especially women) from sitting or pushes into their space when they do sit.

It is worth noting, though, that even when the bus or train isn't crowded, manspreading sends a message that you have claimed the space, and when the bus or train becomes more crowded, there is a risk that people will worry about sitting next to you, as manspreading seems to be hostile to that.

I spread out when my bus is empty, but the moment it starts looking full, I contract and make room and try to sit in a way where it is obvious that anybody can sit by me.
posted by maxsparber at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


Basically, it requires that the 'spreaders pay attention to the world around them and consider the needs of others in a dynamic manner, something that most women are socialized to do but many men are socialized to avoid

Does anyone know of any serious research on these various space-claiming tactics and their prevalence? I would have thought that it should be possible to put some meaningful quantification on that "many men" claim. I don't, in my current life, use public transportation regularly, so I can't really comment on current behavior in my area. At times in the past when I have, it always seemed to me that the vast majority of people--male and female--played by basically the same set of "rules" about sharing a public space: such that it was always striking when someone didn't. And, indeed, when it came to space-claiming, there were marked feminine strategies as well as masculine ones (placing the handbag on the empty seat to one's side--for example).

The strong suggesting in this thread is that somewhere near a majority of men (i.e., enough so that it qualifies as "typical" male behavior) aggressively claim extra space whenever they ride on public transportation. I find that a little hard to believe, so I'd be really interested to see any systematic study of the practice. Perhaps it varies a lot from city to city?
posted by yoink at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2015


bury my body at sealion cove
posted by griphus at 10:32 AM on June 10, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh, and thanks for the replies to my question. I'm glad to hear that it's not "manspreading" if you're not actually inconveniencing anyone. I do think that that is a bit of an inherent problem with things like the manspreading tumblr and so forth; the vast majority of those shots don't provide sufficient context to know if the person is actually aggressively claiming space in a full carriage or just spreading out while the carriage is still mostly empty.
posted by yoink at 10:32 AM on June 10, 2015


The strong suggesting in this thread is that somewhere near a majority of men (i.e., enough so that it qualifies as "typical" male behavior) aggressively claim extra space whenever they ride on public transportation.

I don't think anyone has made that claim. It's not the majority of men -- but it is a sizable minority, and it's mostly men who do it. Not every man engages in catcalling -- probably also a minority -- but it's also common enough and gendered. A lot fo sexism reveals itself through this sort of vanguard behavior.
posted by maxsparber at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2015 [8 favorites]


The strong suggesting in this thread is that somewhere near a majority of men (i.e., enough so that it qualifies as "typical" male behavior) aggressively claim extra space whenever they ride on public transportation.

It doesn't need to be a majority of men who do it for it to be a typically male behaviour. It just needs to be something that a lot more men than women do. And from my experience, and that of many women in this thread and similar threads, it is. You know, you could just believe us.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:37 AM on June 10, 2015 [15 favorites]


men will always rules lawyer women who describe the world we live in - they want to see the context, hear both sides, give weight to their own lived experiences. there is never a case good enough it seems for a sizable group of women to say "this is a thing that happens" and have men as a group just believe them.
posted by nadawi at 10:39 AM on June 10, 2015 [24 favorites]


The strong suggesting in this thread is that somewhere near a majority of men

The strong suggestion in the thread has been that it's a lot of dudes. It is, in fact, a lot of dudes. Worrying out what proportion of dudes total that is, whether it's a literal majority or near majority, whether and how much it varies from city to city, and whether it's really happening at some notional quantitative threshold no one's pointing to in the first place, is sort of needless Yeah But stuff that this isn't even, at all, the first example of in these discussions on the site. Maybe just leave it alone if that's the angle you primarily find interesting at this point.
posted by cortex at 10:42 AM on June 10, 2015 [18 favorites]


[I]s the objection to men taking up more than on seatspace [...] in any circumstances or only to doing so when the bus/train becomes sufficiently full that it is either impossible or difficult to find an alternative seat?

It's "begins to fill", which means when the seats are closing in on 50% taken. This means you can't zone out, you need to be actively paying attention to when you need to sit in just your own seat and proactively shut your legs/move your bag. Not "sufficiently full" that you are taking the only seats left and when someone asks you begrudgingly share.
posted by jeather at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


It would be interesting to see actual statistics on manspreading because I am a nerd and I love that kind of shit, but I wish any stats on that kind of thing were done for that reason or for reasons of improving things instead of "this has been verified by Science Authority Men and so now men can actually listen to women"
posted by NoraReed at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


[Couple more comments removed. yoink, you are digging in here and not letting something drop even after pushback and prompting in a way that you do habitually on the site and it really seriously needs to stop being a recurring issue. Find a way to read the room better and disengage sooner in these situations. Folks responding to yoink, please help make this dynamic easier to cut off by just flagging and moving on with the conversation.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:00 AM on June 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Find a way to read the room better and disengage sooner in these situations.

This is so much more nicely put than "Shut up or get out." If the metafilter thing doesn't work out, cortex, there's always PR.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:33 AM on June 10, 2015


It's "begins to fill", which means when the seats are closing in on 50% taken. This means you can't zone out, you need to be actively paying attention to when you need to sit in just your own seat and proactively shut your legs/move your bag.

It's been years since I've been able to use transit. This reminded me that whenever I wanted to zone out or doze I would make sure I was all neat and compact so I wouldn't have to be concerned with other people. It was just automatic.
I'm finding consciously thinking about these little things I did and didn't realize I was doing interesting.
posted by Jalliah at 12:10 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Huh. I guess I've been fighting against manspreading for years without realizing it - I just walk up to whatever seat the guy is spreading into and make my intentions to sit known (shrugging off backpack, turning to sit down) and they've always moved their legs. Never had to stare or say anything, just make it clear that I'm sitting there and they need to move to accommodate that fact.

It likely helps that (a) I'm a dude; and (b) I'm in Canada, where general politeness is the rule. If the guy looks at me after I sit, I might say "sorry", but usually he's saying "sorry" too.

It's the folks with the bag taking up the seat beside them that I haven't figured out yet. Usually I just stare to see if I can get through their obliviousness.
posted by nubs at 1:38 PM on June 10, 2015


It likely helps that (a) I'm a dude; and (b) I'm in Canada, where general politeness is the rule. If the guy looks at me after I sit, I might say "sorry", but usually he's saying "sorry" too.

As a woman in Canada, I can tell you that (a) is why you are getting such a different response.
posted by jeather at 1:52 PM on June 10, 2015 [10 favorites]


Thanks jeather, although it does make me disappointed that it is the former over the latter.
posted by nubs at 1:55 PM on June 10, 2015


The patriarchy disappoints everyone.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:22 AM on June 11, 2015 [14 favorites]


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