Have you heard of the latest term to take the social world by storm? The most trending word in the Twittersphere is “manspreading”, referring to the commonly seen action of a man sat down and opening his legs wide open, as well as opening up the upper half of his body by pushing the elbows out and resting on the armrests on both sides. Now it is pretty clear from public transport that armrests are not actually for the purpose of putting your arms on; otherwise there would be two side by side. They are actually there simply to mark out the space between commuters, so a person who puts his elbows out on one is actually already crossing an unmentioned social line.
Manspreading is a common occurrence on many daily commutes but it begs the reason why people do it? It probably stems from insecurity. A person who worries about being encroached upon decides to take up more space so that there is some left when another person comes to claw back the remaining fifty percent of the armrest. Some also speculate that it is a sign of cocky confidence, to sit like a slouched king. Some people point to supposed medical reasons – it prevents the male testes from overheating and lowering sperm count. Whatever the reason, it appears that people just simply want more of what they need.
What can you do if you are a victim of manspreading? When someone sits in the seat next to you and opens out wide? Most of us are too polite to make a remark, which is why people go out and do it in the first place. And commenting on a person’s body, especially if the person is fat, seems like bullying. If you are victim, you can do this – as you get up at your stop to leave, deliberately swing your bag into what is really your entitled social space. Give the offender a whack. And don’t apologise for it. After all, he’s in your space.
Sometimes people go out of their way to be deliberately rude. The Classical composer Johannes Brahms seemed to make it a point of being rude and curt to others in his later years (you can read more about this in the N8 Piano Teachers website, and he was even said to be a cat-slayer!
What is the useful lesson we can take from these and impart to our children? It may well be to show consideration to others in a world that is increasingly so(cial) me(dia).