Late last year, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority began placing ads asking its male customers to stop spreading their legs on busses and subways. Though the campaign has received a fair share of criticism over its production cost, Emily Hopkins of Bitch Magazine discovered that the most dramatic reactions appear to have been in customer emails from angry manspreaders to the MTA.

I filed a public records request through MuckRock.com for MTA emails containing the word “manspreading.” The transit agency sent me a file of 18 email comments about the campaign from over the course of one month.

The emails she was given are...perfect.

I am highly disgusted at your blatant sexism regarding taking up too much room in one’s seat on trains. I have witnessed more women taking up tons of space with their large handbags and packages than I have see men spreading their legs taking up space. Yet I would never expect the MTA to choose a bigoted gender-targeted campaign to denigrate just women who do such things.

This manspreader (I’m assuming here) continued with a threat:

Due to your blatant sexism, I may now to decide to take photos of all the women who take up more room than they should be and send them to you and post them on social media to contradict your sexist anti-male campaign and prove that this is not a gender issue.

That man politely ended his rant with, “Thank you.”

In another email, an angry manspreader (again, I’m making an assumption) asked:

What about fat people who spill over into adjoining seats? People with BO? Women who drench themselves in cheap perfume? Women who poke you with their elbows because their breasts won’t allow them to keep their arms in front of them?

Well?!?! What about those people who destroy his sinuses with cheap perfume and bruise him with their elbows??? (He did not end his email with “Thank you.”)

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Another man, jealous of the person who invented the word “manspreading,” sought to create his own gendered term for people who piss him off: “Purse-Seating.” Hmmmmmmmmm.

Frankly, this new advertisement is ridiculous. “Manspreading” is hardly a legitimate problem. Nor is it limiting all that much space on the subway. This new ad campaign is morbidly sexist, and seeks to shame men for something so extremely innocuous. If “manspreading” is such a ludicrous epidemic, I should reasonably ask why “Purse-Seating” wasn’t an equivalent problem?

Another manspreader kept it short and sweet:

DROP DEAD, YOU MORONS

He didn’t even have time to type an exclamation mark.

Image via the MTA.


Contact the author at bobby@jezebel.com.