It takes a select person to appreciate the annoyance of a good nitpicking. The latest lackadaisical feminist cause gracing the internet is the unstoppable threat of manspreading. It has been a slight concern in New York and Canada, where a men’s rights group has started a petition that protects the male freedom to spread.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority has taken a different approach. Mic.com says the organization has decided to included manspreading into their poster campaign supporting courtesy on public transportation. It is a great solution to address a problem that is more the result of bad manners than an oppressive patriarchal system.
The video I wanted to show is posted on Daily Motion, which requires downloading a special software to embed its videos into websites, is a perfect example of an obnoxious way to handle manspreading. The video has been praised for attacking the issue head on (No pun intended, pervs!) and features a microphone-armed woman traveling the New York City subway system questioning men about the appropriate leg spreading space for men to sit comfortably.
Besides walking up to random men asking them about a fictional term that is vague and borderline homoerotic, the other problem with this interrogation is it takes a broad approach to a specific issue. She didn’t target men who were spreading their legs excessively— but all men. It is possible she was trying to learn from men how wide is a reasonable “manspread” and then challenging other men who crossed the boundary, but the interview has been framed to suggest the act is always offensive.
Like most memes and photos on manspreading, the interviewer brings attention to the neighboring woman sitting with her legs clutched tight and clinging to her belongings.
These anti-manscaping campaigns are dangerous because it takes a serious issue and turns the public eye in the wrong direction. If our attention wasn’t on making manspreading more controversial than it has to be, we could be addressing bigger issues on transits. I don’t know— maybe groping!
The bottom line: there are rude male and female commuters. The ‘spreader’ could be the guy who thinks his dick is bigger than the world or the woman who thinks her Marshall’s handbag deserves its own seat.
I live in Houston were public transportation is as common as three-horned unicorns or decent quarterbacks— so I’m not too concerned. The new Metro Rail route Midtown should be functional…eventually. But I’m sure anyone with common sense can recognize the irrationality behind laws that regulate manspreading. Let’s all just show some common courtesy!