Anyone who has sat next to a man who is slumped in his seat with his legs splayed out on public transportation, in a meeting or in a theater knows how annoying it can be. They take up extra space and encroach on the leg room of those around them forcing their neighbors to take up ever smaller bits of space. However, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is raising the gauntlet and implementing a campaign against male space hog. The MTA campaign asks men to stop “manspreading,” i.e. spreading their legs while seated on subways and buses.
So-called manspreading has been a source of scorn for many. Now, the New York MTA is making sure it gets the negative attention warranted for being inconsiderate of other passengers. Since the news hit about the campaign, people are clamoring for similar efforts in London, Toronto and other cities.
A new poster campaign is beginning on NYC public transportation in an attempt to make male riders more award of their behavior. The hope is that etiquette signs saying “Dude … Stop the Spread” will encourage men to keep their knees together (or at least closer together) when the MTA’s 2,600 subway cars and buses are crowded with commuters.
Yes, sitting by someone excessively overweight can make it squishy. But, they are not deliberately getting into their neighbor’s space. They cannot do anything about it at the time. The manspreaders, however, can. The theory is that they slouch down in poor posture to get comfortable, not to deliberately be inconsiderate of their neighbors. However, in reality, many will undoubtedly respond to the campaign with,“I’m going to sit how I want to sit.”
The MTA has other colorful posters in the campaign, besides the one seeking to ban manspreading. The other topics also address behaviors that riders frequently do (or do not do) that affect their neighbors. The other slogans in the public service campaign include:
- Offer Your Seat to an Elderly, Disabled, or Pregnant Person
- It’s a Subway Car Not a Dining Car
- Step Aside to Let Others Off First
- Keep the Sound Down
- Take Your Pack Off Your Back
- Don’t be a Pole Hog
The ads are part of a bigger campaign with the slogan “Courtesy Counts: Manners Make a Better Ride.” The posters are just the latest in a long tradition of periodic campaigns to boost courteous behavior on the subways since the 1940s.
In today’s era of social media, the manspreading campaign that asks men to stop spreading their legs on training is already attracting a lot of buzz as is the behavior. Reportedly Twitter users are pushing for similar anti manspreading campaigns in their cities. At any rate, the attention the campaign is sure to get will at least increase awareness that the issue exists. The scourge of the underground has also been the topic of blogs, both against and in defense of the practice. The curious thing is that men defending it claim that sitting that way is more comfortable, but – if so – why is manspreading a recent phenomenon? Hopefully, it is a passing phase.
By Dyanne Weiss