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Dublin: 17 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020

If manspreading annoys you, then you're a hypocrite who 'demonises perfectly natural behaviour'... apparently

‘Such ridiculous hypocrisy.’

WHETHER YOU DO it or endure it, there are few among us who aren’t familiar with the term ‘manspreading’.

shutterstock_1195757314 Source: Shutterstock/bahow

If, however, you have navigated life so successfully that you have yet to encounter it; let’s catch you up quickly.

‘Manspreading’ is when an individual – most specifically one travelling on public transport – sits with their legs widened to such an extent that it infringes on fellow passengers’ space. 

Most of us have endured a journey spent pinned against a window while the person beside us appeared oblivious to the amount of room they were taking up by choosing to adopt that particular position.

Or, indeed, experienced a commute which involved sitting with your knees perilously close to the crotch of the person sitting opposite you, as their widened legs enveloped your narrowed ones.

If you’re of the opinion that this is little more than bad manners, Reddit user Jex17 is here to tell you that you’re wrong.

manspreading Source: Shutterstock

According to Jex17, it’s a physiological necessity to take up damn near 90 per cent of the seat you’re occupying. 

Oh, and anyone who challenges that notion is  ‘teaching an entire generation of young boys that it’s socially shameful to open their legs when their body is activating its testicular heat stress response’.

And it’s not just the testicles we’re forgetting about when we silently question why we have to pay for a seat when we’re practically folding ourselves into our purses on the route home.

Part of it is the q-angle - women have a wider hip structure, which gives a wider range of flexibility along the q-angle, letting them comfortably sit one knee over the other whereas most men don’t have the range of motion to sit that way at all, let alone comfortably.

And if the q-angle wasn’t enough to consider, you then have to bring gravity into the equation.

Focussing on the fact that men tend to be taller than women, meaning that they need to consider the ‘balance triangle’, Jex17 wrote:

When you’re sitting on a moving bus, you’ll subconsciously seat yourself into a stable position – the taller you are, the lower you’ll have to position yourself in the seat to stay balanced. Spreading your legs helps widen the balance triangle.

Oh, and then we got schooled on the classic testicular heat stress response.

“When men’s testes approach heat stress temperatures, there’s a driving urge to spread the knees to cool them down,” he wrote, adding that forcing a manspreader to narrow his legs will continue to “further drive down the already plummeting sperm rates.”

Listen, being opposed to having your face pressed against a window so that the person beside you can occupy the vast majority of space is not about social shaming, physiological ignorance or the ‘demonising of natural behaviour’, it’s about having an awareness of common courtesy, and hoping your fellow commuter will display theirs.

Indeed, as he says himself, there exists a choice.

“I’m not unreasonable,” he commented. “If the bus gets crowded I’ll close my knees, but if I’ve got an empty seat next to me and nobody is crowded out, I spread them loud and proud.”

Right so; it’s not a necessity then? But a choice? Grand.

What about you? How do you react to manspreading?

Poll Results:

I see it, but I don't pay any heed. (667)
It annoys me, and I give a physical indication of this, but I don't say anything. (338)
It annoys me so much, but I never say anything. (210)
It annoys me, and I say it. (99)

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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