Manspreading, when men spread their wide open legs for the whole goddamn train to see and take up bench space which could accommodate at least three mid-sized women, is now forbidden in Madrid’s public buses. As CNN reports, this marks a victory for women’s groups like Mujeres en Lucha, who started the hashtag #MadridSinManspreading (#MadridWithoutManspreading).
Madrid joins other cities like New York which, back in 2015, put up graphics with the message “Dude, stop the spread,” prompting men to lash back with infuriated emails to the MTA about other offenses like BO, fat people, pursespreading, and big boobs. (Admittedly the NYPD took it a little too far when they arrested at least two subway riders for manspreading).
But other men’s rights groups like the Canadian Association for Equality of Toronto have voiced more sensible dissent. From their 2014 Change.org petition:
This sets a very bad precedent as men opening their legs is something we have to do due to our biology. It sometimes can be physically painful for to close our legs and we can’t be expected to do so. We can’t force woman to stop breast feeding on busses or trains and we can’t force men or women to stop bringing strollers on, why should we force men to close their legs?
Their argument was countered by a more recent Change.org campaign by Miccorelatos Feministas, which garnered nearly 12,000 signatures:
It is not a question of bad education, but that just as women have [been taught] to sit with our legs close together (as if we had to hold something between our knees) men have transmitted an idea of hierarchy and territoriality, as if the space belonged to them.
While I can sympathize with crotch discomfort, let this be a lesson to all men: don’t touch me with your knees.