The manspreading epidemic: Is it really an epidemic?

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(CNN)If you’ve ever crammed into the back of a Toyota with one or more males over the age of seven, you’re likely familiar with the phenomenon recently popularized as manspreading.

A target of women’s websites and public transit authorities, the practice involves the widening of a man’s legs while seated such that those adjacent must bonsai themselves into what little sittable space remains in a bus or airplane row.
Or, in the case of subway benches, often abstain from sitting at all.
    Who are these entitled thigh wideners? And why has this only now become a recognized social phenomenon?
    What critical man-mass elevated this interpersonal mansgression to the level of cultural manstay?
    And — at the risk of mansplaining — it turns out there’s much in a name, albeit an unimaginative one.
    Because, while the formation of the seated V is as old as recumbency itself, calling it manspreading has helped it achieve such widespread manfamy.

    New name, old problem

    By Oxford English Dictionary standards, the term “manspreading” skyrocketed into common use, powered by the MTA’s fall 2014 Courtesy Counts campaign.
    Now the agency has launched an exhibit dedicated in part to the social misdemeanor, called “Transit Etiquette Or: How I Learned to Stop Spitting and Step Aside in 25 Languages.”
    The exhibit is out to illustrate that while the term might be modern, the act of manspreading is as old as group seating.
    “There have been campaigns like this going back to almost the beginning of the subway,” says Senior Manager of Exhibitions for the MTA’s New York Transit Museum Rob Delbagno, suggesting a measure of futility in trying to repel the manspreading menace.

    #manspread #jackass

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    “We found stuff going back to 1915, and most of the problems they were talking about then were the same as now,” he concedes.
    Posters and other various signage from the collection depict subway-riding vulgarians in the 1940s littering, blocking doors, resting their feet on seats and, of course, describing leg angles greater than 44 degrees.
    In a country where obesity rates are an escalating epidemic and a town where space is a dwindling premium, manspreading takes on a defense readiness condition beyond mere novelty. But it isn’t limited to the Five Boroughs.
    “As we started looking at it, we realized this is not unique to New York, so we started looking around and pulling together things from all over the world,” Delbagno says.
    Part public service, part cultural chronicle, the exhibit has been extended to October 30 due to overwhelming popular response, providing ample time for the MTA to educate mass transit’s masses on this mandemic.

    Which kind of monster does manspreading make you?

    But when you really need to judge someone, there’s no substitute for science, which is already hard at work to classify perpetrators of lap-tuse seating.
    “It needs more academic attention and I think it’s going to get it now,” UCLA professor of behavioral psychology Uri Maoz says regarding manspreaders.
    Unfortunately for those seeking closure, there might actually be an evolutionary explanation motivating these femoral fascists.

    Do you really need to assume this particular sitting position for anatomical reasons? #manspread #manspreading #tube #jubileeline #london

    A photo posted by Olivia de Felice (@olivia_defelice) on

    “There is some research that suggests that under some circumstances women might find this more attractive,” Maoz says.
    Indeed, preliminary findings reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that adopting an “expansive (vs. contractive) body posture increases one’s romantic desirability” at a rate 25% greater than when not being a terrible person.
    In other words, chicks dig manspreading whether they know it consciously or not.
    “Postural expansion can dramatically increase a person’s chances of making a successful initial romantic connection,” the report concluded, because it’s “considered to express both dominance and openness.”

    Changing habits

    Of course, the possible traits associated with manspreading aren’t all so winsome.
    “My intuition would be that people who say it’s fine would probably also have other characteristics, like a more positive attitude toward porn, for instance,” Maoz says.
    Preferred subway reading material notwithstanding, if evolutionary manspreading and the messages crafted to combat it have existed for centuries, what hope should riders of public transportation have that any of these efforts will do something to stop these narcissistic knee Nazis?
    The MTA’s Delbagno urges patience — and reminds us to be grateful manspreading doesn’t come with any emissions.
    “Spitting was big in the [1900s] and ’20s when tuberculosis was a problem in the city. Now you don’t have to tell people not to spit,” the MTA’s Delbagno recalls. “Human behavior changes slowly.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/22/travel/manspreading-public-transport/index.html