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  • Elise Dottrens

JANUARY'S ACTION: Mans...what ?!

Updated: Jan 13, 2019


What do Madrid, San Francisco and New York have in common ? Starting between 2008 and 2016, they banned « manspreading » in their public transports. Mans…what ? 


« Manspreading » is the principally manly habit of, well, spreading their legs (in an exagerated manner) in public transport, and thus letting their neighbours with a diminished space to sit. It is a sensitive topic ; whereas women are starting to reclaim their rights to have the same space to sit, men tend to laugh of the problem and justify it by a bigger need of space in virtue of what they have in their pants. 

After all, is it really a sexist and annoying habit, or just a new battleground for radical feminists ? The extent of the phenomenon on social media shows it clearly ; it bothers us women.


women are starting to reclaim their rights to have the same space to sit, men tend to laugh of the problem and justify it by a bigger need of space in virtue of what they have in their pants

Sure, compared to gender gap, violence on women and rape, the fact can seem superficial. But the analysis of what signals the position sends goes further. For Christine Bard, french historian : « This position does have something to do with penis and testicules : spreading  the legs suggests that their size is important. It also forces women to tie up the legs. Gender works like relationships do. »


Rush hour... Illustrator: Daisy Dottrens

In fact, it suggests much more ; that the masculine crotch is more important than feminine comfort or, worse, that men don’t even realise how awkward it feels. For them, there is a very precise and scientific reason, explained by John Sutcliffe in The Independent: “The overall width of the pelvis is relatively greater in females and the angle of the femoral neck is more acute. These factors could play a role in making a position of sitting with the knees close together less comfortable in men.”

Right, I am no scientist. But tell me: why do certain men manage to sit with closed, or at least parallel legs? Aliens? 


So, similarly to people who don’t let others come out of the train before coming in, the ones who phone call and share their lives to the whole coach, and those (women also concerned!) who put their bags on the seats, it’s all about reclaiming some kind of long gone respect in the public space. 

Manspreading is our January action. Spread (haha) the issue to your surroundings, and feel free to point to manspreaders that you feel uncomfortable sitting next to them. Share your experiences (and pictures) on the Rowenna Facebook or Instagram pages.

https://www.lemonde.fr/big-browser/article/2017/07/06/comment-le-manspreading-est-devenu-un-objet-de-lutte-feministe_5156949_4832693.html

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