I told a friend that men spreading their legs on public transportation
became a recent feminist issue. He laughed. He wasn’t drunk, but you’d be
forgive for thinking he downed a pint or two of Maredsous. The silliness of
focusing on Manspreading is easy to point out. Still, tackling crazy idea is
a fun and challenging thing to do. No matter how crazy an idea is, an
emotional, “That’s so stupid!” reaction is never valid. Intelligence is
tested when you’re confronting stupidity.
I know this paragraph is full of implication that the Manspreading debate is
stupid, but bear with me.
In a previous post, I said that something becomes a feminist issue when it
targets women. Manspreading cannot be a feminist issue. No matter how many
people Manspread, it will target women specifically. It’s a rude behavior,
just like talking loudly with your friends or blasting unoriginal Death
Metal through your phone speakers (1). However, no one is targeted
specifically. A person who Manspreads will annoy a fellow man just as it
will annoy a woman.
Not only is Manspreading not a feminist issue, it’s a fairly misandrist
It’s definitely a sexist term. Sexism is giving a different treatment based
on sex. You give men a special treatment by attributing this behavior
specifically to them in the word itself.
This is not the same case with rape. A lot of discussion about rape talk
about man-on-woman rape, which is valid because they tend to back it up with
statistics. It’s also valid to worry more about the persecution and violence
that’s targeting your group. However, the word itself isn’t sexist. You can
only know if the rape in discussion is commited only by men by context. The
word ‘Manspreading’ implies it’s a behavior that’s unique to men.
This would only be valid if Manspreading can only be done by males. Women
can also spread. There’s nothing preventing women from doing it, not even a
few funny looks. Some mentioned that women who get on public transportation
with plenty of shopping bags are also taking up space. Isn’t that a
stereotype, saying women are such shopaholics?
Sitting with your legs spread when the train is full is rude behavior.
Sitting with your legs spread when the train isn’t full is logical, because
why sit uncomfortably when no one’s there?
I’m not sure what to make of ‘it’s a sign of male dominance’. Let’s assume
it is. Let’s say that in a patriarchy, men will feel much more comfortable
taking up space. How exactly is focusing on that going to solve the problem?
It reads like a symptom, but not the disease itself.
As for the “Men Taking Up 2 Much Space” tumblr, it’s a very ugly blog that
should be named and shamed. There’s rude behavior and there’s immoral
behavior. People taking up too much space is annoying, but you feel the need
to shame these people, who doesn’t deserve to be shamed? Where do we draw
the line? Good friends have done to me things much worse than this. I did
things much worse than this. None of it was that bad.
Feminists should throw that debate in the trash bin. There enough serious
women’s issues. By focusing on petty things that are unrelated to your
cause, you end up being caricature of yourself.
Manspreading appeared on The Daily Show. It’s awful. It’s really awful. Stewart can’t see the absurdity of paying so much attention to just some rude behavior on public transportation. All it does is create a straw man and punch it. It doesn’t say anything, other than “These men are whining”. If you’re putting a lot of effort in making sure people don’t spread their legs, if this really bothers you, maybe you need a little self-criticism.
(1) It’s bad more because Death Metal is not a very good genre of music. If
you blast music I like, then it’s okay.