“Manspreading.” No question, the act is inconsiderate. Even downright rude. But the word, itself? That’s what I find offensive. It makes me cringe.
If you’re not familiar, “manspreading” is something that men do all the time – in public and, most often, in settings related to mass transportation. (Think, ‘on the subway, the train or on the bus’.) They sit with their legs open to the widest possible position so as to claim space equivalent to what two or more adult human beings would occupy while seated. In cases of tall men, or those with unusually long legs, this can measure up to four feet!
You see it all the time, but you’re unfazed by it. Unless, of course, you’re standing during that long streetcar ride while Mr. VeeLimbs owns a row. It’s hardly new behavior. Men have been extending themselves (not in the good way) for years. But now, manspreading has become “a thing” – with its own word/name. In New York, the Transit Authority launched a whole public service campaign to discourage it. It’s a hot topic in late-night comedy. Even the New York Times is writing about it!
But to me, it’s not the behavior that’s so irksome. I mean, if Mr. Gargantuan wants to splay in a way that maximizes his personal space, who really cares? Further, if the thought to offer his super-sized spot to an aged, feeble, or disabled rider would never occur to this guy, do you really think limiting himself to one seat is ever going to register?
No, to me, what they call this is icky. “Manspreading”! Just the word evokes a visual of some gangling guy sowing his seed. Either that, or something to do with his crotch area. Or displaying his ‘man-hood’. In any case, it’s a most unpleasant word that conjures-up an even-more-unpleasant thought. Anything we can do about that?
So, while many people view manspreading as the height of bad manners and rudeness, and suggest that the world (or, at least, the subway) would be a better place without it, I would argue that it’s the word that’s got to go!
Next time: “Mansplaining” – when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending, patronizing way. Now that’s obnoxious behavior worthy of a public service campaign!