Manspreading is an Important Feminist Issue, Not Just Bad Social Etiquette

by | February 13, 2016
filed under Feminism


It’s no secret that manspreading is a hot topic of late, especially when it comes to feminist discourse. Many list it as one one of the problems to be tackled on the Feminist To-Do List, but it turns out that few actually know why.

Then there are those who don’t see it as an important feminist issue at all. On one side is the argument that that manspreading is mostly harmless and it’s just men needing some extra space for their cocks and balls. Others argue it’s just a matter of someone being an asshole vs. not an asshole. Many of my feminist friends—male and female alike—fall into the second category.

But what all these people fail to realise is that they are adopting the same false arguments that we have all been raised with in this patriarchal system.

On a heated Facebook discussion about manspreading, many of my male feminist friends chimed in to state that they sometimes manspread, and they do it simply to let their cocks and balls breathe a little. They assured me that they make room when someone needs the seats around them, and that by sitting with their legs spread, they are simply doing it for the sake of comfort – not out of some malicious attempt to prove that men rule and girls drool.

There are so many problems with this argument that I’m overwhelmed just trying to decide where to begin.

I’ll acknowledge, having never had a cock and balls myself, I don’t know if men really need all that extra space for their man-parts. But if they do, how come women don’t claim extra room as well? I don’t know about you, but when I’m on my period and I’m wearing a pad, I literally want nothing more than to spread my legs wide when sitting anywhere—the last thing I want to do is keep them tightly shut, which scrunches up the pad and often causes leaks. Not to mention when I get up after sitting with closed legs, physics does its job and the newfound air sucks out large clumps of period blood and makes me feel like I’ve dropped a load from my pussy. All because I sat with closed legs and then got up and opened my legs a little.

Alternately, even when I’m not on my period, I like letting my vagina have extra space. With the hair down there and various vaginal fluids constantly dripping out, and panties, which can be restrictive in themselves, keeping my legs closed is a pain in my ass most of the time. Dropping my knees to the side and letting my vag get some space is a glorious feeling.

And I bet I’m not alone in that thinking. Yet, rarely do we find women relaxed on any public property with their legs spread wide. And if we do see women taking up more room than they’re conventionally entitled to, we see them more willing to give up the extra room when someone else needs it. I rarely ever see men do this.

Then there are men who make the argument that women will take up an entire extra seat with just purses and bags, and somehow that is the same as manspreading to them. But imagine walking into a subway train and seeing two empty seats: one beside a women whose has set her large purse partially on it, and the other beside a man who is sitting with his legs spread, totally relaxed. Are you more likely to go up to the woman and say, “Excuse me, could you please move your bag so I can sit down?” or are you likely to go to the man and say, “Excuse me, could you close that gap between your legs so I can sit down?”

Chances are, you’re most likely to ask the woman to move her purse than ask the man to close his legs. In fact, more often than not, the woman will remove her bag when she notices new people entering the train while men will not be aware of the space they’re taking up unless explicitly asked to move. And rarely do they explicitly get asked to move.

Therein is illustrated two truths: the first is that women are generally considered easier to approach. I’ve noticed this when riding any sort of public transit; when given the choice between sitting beside a man or sitting beside a woman, people—regardless of gender—tend to sit beside the woman. It could be that women are seen as less intimidating or easier to dominate. I really don’t know, but it annoys the hell out of me as a woman who rarely ever gets to sit alone, while men enjoy empty seats beside them regularly.

The second truth that hypothetical situation reveals is that, generally, women are hyper-aware of how much room they take up. We are raised like that: we are raised to sit with closed legs, to not talk or laugh too loudly, to not be seen or heard, to take up as little space in the world as possible.

Men are not taught this: men are not taught to sit with their legs closed or to dress modestly or not laugh loudly in public. They are not discouraged from being seen and heard in the world. So for women, whom society has raised to to be aware of the room they take up, when a subway car begins to fill up, we’re a little too aware that our bags or feet or even a corner of our coats are taking up more room than we need and we are usually quick to fix it and dissolve back into the background.

This is the patriarchy for you: raising girls to feel like they are doing the world a disservice by existing, and raising boys to feel like the world is their oyster—both of these even if the individual doesn’t realise it him- or herself. And this trickles down into every aspect of the lives of all genders: from how we sit and where we choose to sit, to what we say and how we decide to say it, to what we wear and how we’re treated when we walk down the street.

Seldom ever will a man and woman have the same experience in any of those situations, and more often than not it’s the male-identifying cis men who will have it easiest, and that will allow them to sit with their legs spread and often be totally unaware of anyone else until someone pointedly asks them to adjust themselves to accommodate those around them.

This isn’t to say that men who manspread and claim it’s for the sake of their cocks and balls are assholes. When I encounter a manspreading man, I rarely ever suspect that he’s doing it out of malice. More often than not, I get angry that in this day and age, they’re not “woke” enough to either realise that they are not entitled to the world. Or I get frustrated that they have been brainwashed by the patriarchy into making excuses for seemingly minuscule things like manspreading.

Because manspreading it’s not a minuscule thing at all; it’s an act of dominance that is the result of deep-rooted societal privilege borne of our patriarchal society. It may not seem like something worth talking about when there are so many more crucial problems that feminism needs to tackle first, but I see becoming aware of and amending small inequalities to be nearly as important as the bigger ones.

Only by changing our everyday habits can we become enlightened enough to better understand and find solutions for the bigger, “more important” issues.

Photo of manspreading on a Stockholm Metro by Peter IsotaloOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Leisure Muffin

    If you are in an area where space is at a premium, yes, anyone who takes up more room than they need is being an asshole. Other than that, the real issue here is not that men shouldn’t sit comfortably, but rather that some people, including yourself, buy into outdated and irrelevant social mores regarding how “ladies” should act. Which society DOES need to let go of. But the answer is not to guilt a group of people into the EXACT SAME kind of pointless oppression that still affects women today, and caused you to write about this issue in the first place.

    • Philip

      Which society DOES need to let go of.

      Society? Nope. If you are a woman/man sit however you like. Who in the world is putting this social pressure? Next to no one, and if they are saying something, I bet they are female! furthermore, there’s this magic little word called NO. try it out.

      • mono

        You make it sound so easy but the truth it people are rarely aware of the pressure society puts on them. Why? Because the pressure is everywhere, in our words, behaviours, convictions, in media and school programs. It’s like air – it is so constant and ever present, that it is invisible.
        Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. All it takes is opening your mind a little bir to other people’s perspectives.

    • Red Wizard Of Thay

      shopping bags

  • admi66

    crock of sht. opening your legs past a certain distance is probably an issue. But as far as opening your legs, I am sorry to say this, but just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean men need to change their posture. They are doing it because that is the way we sit and we don’t want our genitalia squished. If you want to do the same because of tampons/whatever, do it.

  • Megan

    “women are generally considered easier to approach. I’ve noticed this when riding any sort of public transit; when given the choice between sitting beside a man or sitting beside a woman, people—regardless of gender—tend to sit beside the woman. It could be that women are seen as less intimidating or easier to dominate. I really don’t know, but it annoys the hell out of me as a woman who rarely ever gets to sit alone, while men enjoy empty seats beside them regularly.”
    Alright. I find the whole man spreading thing a petty argument and if this is what “real oppression” is, then you should go talk to girls who aren’t allowed to leave their homes without a man at their side in the Middle East. But THIS part of your argument was ridiculous. It is NOT the man’s fault that people generally choose to sit next to a woman; and if you somehow find it a “nuisance” that someone chose to sit next to you on PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, that is your problem and you’re gonna have to learn to deal with it or just use a different way to get around.

    • Red Wizard Of Thay

      BS I avoid women on subways or looking at them even by accident. They always scowl when you accidentally glance in there general direction. Even if your just looking out the window. Especially Toronto women. If you’re not wearing a conformist suit and look handsome with a lot of money. They treat you like your diseased if you glance in there direction. Even when you’re not looking at them.

    • mono

      Just because someone else’s situation is bad doesn’t mean I have to conform to rude behaviour and bear it quietly. Essentialy, it means I am allowed to complain if someone takes up more space than it is predicted or invades my space with their legs. This is what this article is about. I’m glad the situation isn’t worse but it’s not a reason to not notice that everything is not yet all right

  • Stormwatch

    What a load of nonsense. No wonder nobody takes feminists seriously.

    • Dustin Whitehair

      All of these sjw types are a fucking joke. They make me fucking sick

  • Atrum Angelus

    My advice would be to sit however you like, and not care what other people think.

    • Red Wizard Of Thay

      best advice ever

  • …”keeping my legs closed is a pain in my ass most of the time.” You should probably get that checked out by a Doctor.

    • Red Wizard Of Thay

      some dudes have varicose veins in there nads.

  • People like you who say such rubbish are why so many people become antifeminists. I considered myself an antifeminist for a while… and it was because of people like you. I realized since then that feminism isn’t just a bunch of crazy misandrists who want a matriarchy. People like you need to be chastised by *everyone*, because people like you are a sick joke.

    • Red Wizard Of Thay

      because collectivism has clearly worked out for people. Nothing like tens of millions of deaths price tag for not thinking like and individual.

      • Peter Smythe

        To be fair, radical individualism ain’t no saint in this regard either. American gilded age steel workers had a life expectancy of a bit over a decade. Most harm done by collectivism is done by radical collectivism, the sort of juvenile “losing 20% of our population is 80% okay” sort of collectivism.

  • Rain in the Dark

    I am a woman and… seriously? This is what people choose to get concerned with today?

    The only time I remember giving thought to the wide-legged posture of a guy was when I was sitting right next to him with a wall on my other side, and his legs were spread so wide that I had to turn my own into the wall to avoid our hips – and knees – touching. I was annoyed, true, but it was one time! Maybe I’m just unobservant? Not to mention that if I am really tired/sore enough to crave a seat desperately, I don’t have an issue asking anyone who happens to occupy too much space to move. ‘May I take a seat, please?’ is not such a difficult phrase to pronounce.

    Oh, and I do occasionally sit with my legs spread – not exactly wide, but not completely closed, either. More like, knees outwards and ankles crossed – sometimes even sliding down the seat a little. Don’t really care what it looks like or what people would think – and no one ever made any remarks about that, either. If it’s crowded I might move and try to cram myself into a corner, but I’m more likely to give my seat to someone who looks like they need it more than me. I am not going to fall apart from having to stand during the trip, not to mention that travelling in a communal transport means that there’s a risk that you’d have to stand the entire trip anyway. To sum it up, if there’s a guy/gal occupying too much space, if I truly want a seat, I politely ask them to move; if I don’t, it’s a non-issue, really.

    In other words – first world, first world problems!

    • Red Wizard Of Thay

      Femnazis seem to forget the tens of millions of deaths yearly from capitalism. Or that there privileged over protected ideals are posted on social media with smart phones that use mica. Which is derived from slave labor. You know little girl slavery. They also seem to forget that collectivism kills more people than a black plague. When you’re a collectivist you’re not capable of compassion or independent thought. Everything is ideal based. A degree of separation between you as an individual and group think. Groups always cause violence. They always will be the main cause of violence. Feminism. Is just another form of collectivism for the weak minded people not capable of self control or independent thought.

  • le master trole

    Irrelevant discussion since feminists don’t fit into seats anyway.

    • guts knuckleson


    • guts knuckleson

      it was a compliment, brosef. no need to hurt my feefees.

  • Peter Smythe

    Oh my god. I don’t even sit like that, but maybe I’ll start doing so whenever there’s enough room. This is an insane witch hunt in the name of gender equality. Do you even know who your enemy is? I’m 100% sure it’s not some dude sitting on a mostly-empty bus taking up 1.5 seats. In a world where a millions of women are victims of rape every year, men outnumber women in STEM fields and politics 4:1, de jure patriarchy exists in countries with a combined population over a billion, and trans people experience significantly increased murder rates when socioeconomic factors are controlled for, truly the real source of oppression is men not shutting their dann legs far enough so as to avoid offending you personally.

    • guts knuckleson

      gender equality is the cover, not the real reason for all this SJW/feminist nitpicking and insanity. It’s no coincidence that their target is white males. White males are the most productive, creative and wealthy group in society. When women and minorities can successfully guilt us into thinking we have hurt them somehow, they get financial benefits raining down on them from self-hating whites and politicians wanting to appease them. All this transgender nonsense and race/gender outrage is all about SJW’s taking money from white males and giving it to non-whites and females, and keeping a cut for themselves in the process. Long ago it was communists that ran this con, now it’s repackaged as social justice but it’s the same thing. The have-nots don’t want to work for theirs, they want to take it directly from the haves by playing the victim and making us pay for them to shut the fuck up. But they won’t. Like all spoiled brats and extortionists, give them a finger and they’ll demand the entire arm. It’s time to put a stop to the professional victim industry.

  • Callico

    This article is just a troll, right? Please tell me it’s so. Hell, please tell me that this whole “manspreading problem” is just a collective troll. I refuse to believe that rational, thinking human beings can possibly take such a non-issue to heart. How someone can draw so much non-existent malice and oppressive intent from such a simple and very natural act is just… Breathtaking. Utterly breathtaking. It speaks more of the bitter and hateful mindset of the article’s writer than it does of anything else. Not every natural trait of being a man is evil or designed to oppress you. If you think it is, you have issues of your own.

    • mono

      Maybe we are just moving from the most grave issues to other inconvenient things that are happening around us on a daily basis. I’m not saying it’s “designed” to oppress you, I don’t believe any of this happened intentionaly, men are just as immersed in this BS as women. It’s just a part of culture. I don’t think hating on men is the solution, they are not at fault. But still – this behaviour HAPPENS. You can’t deny it. And it might be (or not) caused by the things described in this article. It’s just an opinion.
      But the behaviour exists and I would gladly join a campaign to make people more aware of the space they take up. So that I don’t have to think “how to tell this stranger next to me that I don’t appreciate his thigh rubbing against mine in a bus without causing a scene” at least a few times a month. Maybe you can give me some advice. “Sorry, could you please keep your legs to yourself?”

      • Rain in the Dark

        Just on the top of my head… “Excuse me, could you please move away a little? There is enough space for both of us to sit comfortably and I am a little crammed here.” “Excuse me, I’m sure you didn’t notice, but you keep brushing against me and have nowhere to move. Could you please give me a little space?” Then there’s a tactic I used a few times when I held onto a vertical bar and people taller than me (I’m 4,9) put a hand right above mine, often pressing down on my hand with their weight. I press back. They look at me in confusion. I stare back. Most of the time it’s enough for them to take their hand off the bar and grip an inch higher so that our hands don’t touch. If they are still confused, I press hard enough to dislodge both our hands, resume my hold on the bar and turn away. I’m not sure how well that would work with a leg-spread guy since I never tried it on them, but weirdly enough it works wonders with people using my hand as an additional prop.

        • Jrenyar

          Pretty sure it would work fine, if anyone said “could you mind moving your legs, I’m a little cramped” to me, I would move my legs. This is man-spreading is really not that big of an issue, it seems as though anyone who has complaints never actually say anything to the man.They just let keep it to themselves and let it stew, until they are so pissed that right a blog post about it.

          Also just to add a little to it, “man-spreading” really is just guys making themselves comfortable, having your legs closed tight can actually hurt a little. It’s not just something we do to oppress women proving that we are the stronger sex. Anyone who actually thinks that, might have a few screws loose. lol

          • Rain in the Dark

            True. I only had an issue with a ‘manspread’ guy once in my life and it was when I was a lot younger. I don’t think I’d hesitate to adress it now since I became a lot more outspoken since then, but weirdly enough it either doesn’t happen to me or I don’t pay attention. I think the issue is the same as people who put their hands on top of mine – they aren’t trying to be rude, they aren’t oppressing anyone, they are just putting their hand on a bar without looking, probably thinking about something else, and don’t expect the bar to push back XD

            Being short sucks. Perhaps I should start a movement called ‘tall privilege’ and base it on not being able to reach the cheese on the upper shelf in the store and whine how oppressed the short people are in multiple blogposts. (PLEASE DON’T TAKE MY WORD ON THAT. If something like this happens I think I’d actually die. I don’t know if it would be from the laughter or from the cringe.)

      • Jimmy James

        you don’t seem to understend why it happens. it’s not a form of oppression. the reason manspreading happens is much simpler: balls. Yes, there IS a difference between men and women. Balls are not a social contruct, they are made by nature. Men do not chose to have balls. And when you demand that men close their legs you are demanding that that squeeze their own balls painfully. I’ve always said that you man-haiting feminists just want to put our nuts in a vise. Now I have proof.

  • guts knuckleson

    Whoever wrote this is a dumb, man-hating bitch. I rarely see anyone ask a woman to move her bags. No one has to ask men to close their legs because most men are instinctively polite enough to do that so people can sit. Women on the other hand will take ten minutes fussing and chit chatting at the front of a long line with no thought wwhatsoever for all the people’s time they are wasting. Men don’t fuck around like that, they whip out the cash, pay and get the fuck out of the line. And they almost never leave their bag on an empty seat on a crowded bus or train like women do. I also see a lot of women in wheelchairs and mobility scooters who are not disabled. The proof is they can get out of their machine and push it into place. Women have a privileged, entitled attitude. Men instinctively still sacrifice for women even though they no longer deserve it. I for one would never pick up a gun and go fight Hitler for today’s women. Fuck that. Women today are not worth it. Anyway it’s their turn to go bleed to death in ditches for us for a change,while we stay home and get our shopping done.

    • mono

      Whoa such much hate in response to a seemingly dumb text. Anger issues much?
      Come on. Just because you could be aware enough to make space for other people around you doesn’t mean others aren’t exposed to this kind of behaviour. I still feel my skin crawling after today’s bus travel, the man next to me never took a hint and kept unconsciously rubbing his leg against mine. When I tried to move, he just kept spreading his legs more and more, taking up the space I left to avoid the unwanted touch. And it’s not the first time! Funnily enough, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had the same problem with women.
      I’m not saying it was done out of malicious intent. But it happens. I don’t care about bags but I take issue when someone invades my space.

      • guts knuckleson

        Oh you poor dear! Were you traumatized? Do you have PTSD now from a man’s leg touching yours? Did you go to your nearest safe space and cry into a big soft teddy bear with some tea and sympathy from another ridiculous professional victim? Am I triggering you right now by even mentioning it? Life is so hard for today’s western women. Middle eastern muslim women, completely covered head to toe trying to see through a face screen, who will get stoned to death for removing it in public, who can’t even enjoy sex because they had their clit surgically removed as a baby, those women have nothing on you poor western ladies oppressed by manspreading and inadvertent leg touching. You know why you didn’t just tell that guy to keep his fucking leg to himself? Because then you couldn’t crybaby on the internet about how you were sexually assaulted by an unwanted leg brushing, LOL.

        You fucking brats need to grow up.

        • mono

          I don’t know, do you feel threatened or what by people complaining on the internet? Or maybe you just like to vent. I just wonder what kind of issues cause you to react with such hate and vitrol to a post. On the internet! It’s not like I was even talking personally to you. But yet you feel the need to insult me and use swearwords and throw these “arguments” about muslim culture as if it had anything to do with this. It’s sick that you talk about these people’s suffering with such ease.
          Whatever. I’m going to continue to be civil. I am deeply grateful that in my country we moved on and things started to change but it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be great if people were made aware that invading someone’s space in public transport tends to make others uncomfortable.
          That’s all. Why on earth you feel the need to rant.

          • Jimmy James

            I don’t think he feels threatened, more like annoyed. Sick of the left acting like children, making muntains out of molehills when there are plenty of real problems in the world they could be spending their time on. Feminists claim to be about equality, but their entire focus seems to be about nagging, nitpicking and shaming men as a whole, particularly straight white men. We have problems too. We commit suicide at 5 times the rate women do, and that number jumps much higher than that following a break up or divorce. Men still do all the hardest, most physically dangerous jobs. Feminists never complain about the lack of female garbage men or tree cutters or high rise window washers, or the fact that women can’t be drafted or the fact that men still pay the majority of taxes while women collect the majority of entitlements and tax funded benefits. Men have always subsidized women and in spite of women doing far better in education now, still want more help for women in college. They are happy to let men continue sacrificing for them and nothing is ever enough. Women just take, take, take from men and are willing to give less and less back, and we men are sick and tired of it. We are dropping out of marriage and family life in droves. We are choosing poverty over full-time work. This a la carte attitude toward equality has left men bitter and uninterested in marriage because it’s all risk, all responsibility, little benefit for us now. Many men are seeking wives abroad where women still want to be women instead of entitled brats who have it all at mens’ expense.

            And as far as things starting to change, you’re right. Donald Trump beat the shit out of Hillary and her army of feminists, cucks and SJW”s, even in spite of her massive election fraud. That’s the backlash your kind have caused with endless whining and demands for more more more from those of us who work and pay taxes. You pushed us until you broke us and things are about to get better. You are going to be forced to deal with your own problems rather than blame white men, demand we pay for more free stuff for you and make problems where there aren’t any like with this manspreading nonsense.

        • Dustin Whitehair

          ^^ best reply ever

    • Jutta Gyllichsen

      Fighting Hitler started this. He said women don’t belong in government.

  • Jaroslav Kotlaba

    Speaking of myself. I sit with my legs spread, because i have long legs an there isn’t enough room between my seat and seat in front of me.

  • Michael

    This is why Trump won.

  • TheMedi8or

    1. Men don’t complain when they have to stand up for women on the subway. They do it because it is expected and women take the seat because they are entitled.
    2. Women would like to spread out for comfort. Men need to spread out for their health. Sitting with legs closed for long periods has been scientifically proven to kill sperm and, in some cases, to cause men to become sterile.
    3. Your insecurities that cause you to “take up as little space as possible” Is your issue. I suspect your irrational fear of men might have something to do with it, but that’s just a guess. There’s no need to crap on men because they are more secure than you are.

  • Dustin Whitehair

    the fact that someone took the fucking time to write an article on this bullshit is cringy as hell. I cannot believe what society has bcome. Everyone is offended by everyfucking thing and all of these sjw pieces of shit just HAVE TO find SOMETHING…ANYTHING to be “oppressed” by. Go kill yourselves

  • Jimmy James

    Men sit with their legs open because they have balls. If women had balls they would sit like that too. Men and women both sit the way nature designed them to sit, the most comfortable way. This demanding that men sit like women reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom suddenly went crazy and demanded that my dad and brothers and I all pee sitting down, because she was afraid the baby might put his hand on a mishap piss dribble (oh the horror!) But what it was really about was emasculation, and that’s what this manspreading nonsense is about too. Feminists claim to be about equality, but they spend an inordinate amount of time chastising men for natural male behavior, redefining sexual harassment to include everything from compliments to talking to/disagreeing with/offending a woman to even just looking at a woman, but only when she doesn’t find you to be of potential dating value. This is evidence of an overprivileged, highly entitled and infantile gender, and I’m not talking about the gender with the balls.

  • Jim Mason

    Women, ever get the feeling where your toes are to close together? Yeah…imagine that between your legs.

  • extremely.trousers

    I can’t take posts like this seriously either. sjw posts are constantly taking up room on the internet that could be better used for pictures of cats. we all like pictures of cats.

    I used to live in Sydney; if a woman put her handbag on an empty seat in peak she was an asshole. If a man took up two seats he was also an asshole. The vast majority of men and women were not assholes and made room for others so we could all get to our jobs. sometimes you had crutch in your face. occasionally someone was stinky. there was always the risk of farts but in general people were nice and we all suffered in slightly uncomfortable socially awkward silence.

    social justice warriors are often the bullies nowadays. well trying to be, it’s negative and whiny and unnecessary. I usually just switch off when read or hear it.
    I felt compelled to post this time because it’s just so ridiculous. go look at pictures of cats and be happy. write something nice for a change.