Manspreading Isn’t About Balls, It’s About Not Being An Asshole

Here is a bit of convoluted argument from xoJane, in defense of manspreading. Julie Winters makes the argument that manspreading is an inalienable right of all men. Comparing it to fatshaming with regards to the physical space a larger person takes up on public transportation, she insists that the act of sitting with your legs closed is so painful and horrible for men, that to insist that they keep their legs a little closer together is a violation of their bodily autonomy. She writes:

“To insist a fat person stand so two thin people might sit is wrong and rude. To suggest that the fat person’s body is at fault is appalling, and some might even claim it is discrimination.

And yet, if it was the same bus, with a passenger that is not obese but male-presenting, suddenly it’s fine to shame him online, to take his photo without permission, and even to come into nonconsensual, unprovoked physically contact with him.

It’s somehow okay to treat men as second class citizens and police their public actions while women should be allowed to do basically anything they want, including violating strangers by forcing them into contact with your ass.”

In Winters’ mind, asking someone politely to close their legs just a teensy bit so you can wedge your tired body into that bus seat is akin to being treated as a second class citizen. It’s fair to say that she’s blowing this out of proportion. It is true that men are built differently than women. Their gentitals nestle like tiny woodland creatures betwixt their thigh, floppy and protected from the elements by some boxer briefs and a baggy chino. Biology dictates that they’re vulnerable. Anyone who’s seen a penis and its attendant balls, swinging free, can attest to the fact that they are defenseless against the world. And, if biology dictates that it is indeed more comfortable for a man to sit with his legs akimbo, then that’s fine too. It’s fucking biology. It’s nature. No one’s disputing that. I have no issue with man-spreading. If you need to sit with your legs wider, do it. But, the implication that one person’s comfort should set the standard for everyone else is ridiculous.

Existing in public with other human beings requires compromise. My bottom half often spills over into another seat. I am aware of how my body is, and what spaces it can reasonably fit into. If I enter an empty subway car, I sit my ass down wherever I see fit. If that car fills up within two stops, I rremove my bag from the seat next to me. I make room for other humans, because that is what you do when it’s hot outside and the trains are packed and everyone just wants to go home. I’ve never sat next to a man whose legs were open and had an issue getting him to close up shop. There has never been any outrage. No one has ever thrown a punch. At best, the person in question will adjust as they see me coming to sit down, straightening up in their seat. At worst, a grumble escapes, like a sullen teenager being asked to clean their room. Everyone sits down, the train keeps moving, and we all make it home.

Look down. Are you a man? Do you have a penis? Is the train around you empty and devoid of people? Take a seat. Let your legs flop where they will. Just be considerate enough to realize the space that you occupy is shared with others.