Monday, December 22, 2014

Manspreading on the Subway

Bridget Ellsworth, a 28-year-old music teacher, views manspreading as sexual harassment because some men engage in it near her even when the subway car is not packed.

“They could move over and spread out their legs all they want,” she said, “but they’re squeezing next to me and doing it.”

For men who think that sitting with their legs spread is socially acceptable, manners experts say it is not. Peter Post, the author of the book “Essential Manners for Men” and great-grandson of etiquette guru Emily Post, said the proper way for men to sit is with their legs parallel rather than in a V-shape.
As this poster from an earlier public service campaign shows, today’s manspreader may be related to the space hog of old. Credit Courtesy of the New York Transit Museum

“I’m baffled by people who do that kind of thing, who take other people’s space,” he said.

Olof Hansson, a director of the Manhattan men’s spa John Allan’s, put it more succinctly. “A true gentleman doesn’t sit on the subway, he stands.”

As for men who may worry that crossing their legs could hurt their virility, doctors say there is nothing to fear. A half-hour train ride with legs crossed might raise testicular temperatures, but not long enough to do any harm, said Dr. Marc Goldstein, director of the center for male reproductive medicine and microsurgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Philadelphia has a new etiquette campaign, too, with posters that say, “Dude It’s Rude... Two Seats — Really?”Article