Recently, Bust Magazine posted this piece about “manspreading” – the habit that some men have of spreading their legs so wide on public transit that they sometimes take up two seats.
The point that the article makes is strong and I agree with most of it. I, too, have suffered the wrath of men’s long legs on buses, pushing me to the edge of my seat and forcing me to squish up against one of the windows on the bus.
However, the video that they posted shows that the man is not only spreading his legs but also takes up an extra seat by putting his bag on it. That, my friends, has nothing to do with manspreading.
I think it’s a question of communication between people and how it differs from region to region, country to country, depending on people’s mentality in that particular place. I’m just speaking from my own personal experience in Montreal, Canada and Jerusalem, Israel – two separate countries, two completely different mentalities.
For example, in Montreal, if a dude puts his bag on the seat next to him, chances are people will just let that pass because actually approaching a stranger and asking him to move his bag so that you can sit is simply not something that you do (unless you’re an Israeli like me or you got guts). The man is a stranger. You do not talk to strangers. You don’t even acknowledge their presence. I remember riding the bus or the metro in Canada, people would not even make the slightest eye contact. Everyone would suddenly find their shoes extremely fascinating and stare at them during the entire ride. Same thing would happen on elevators.
In Israel, however, people don’t give a shit. If you are sitting on the bus with your bag taking up an extra seat, nobody would have a problem coming up to you and asking you to move your bag. Some may even do it politely: “Is this seat taken?” or “May I sit here?” That’s because the mentality in Israel says that there is no such thing as personal space and there is certainly no such thing as “object” space and if you are riding with heavy ass luggage, you should have stored your bag in the luggage compartment or on yourself.
This issue of no personal space is indeed a problem when it comes to actual manspreading when bags are not involved. So yes, squishing up on windows is wont to happen in Israel, too.
Another thing, I’ve noticed that if a man is manspreading, it may not necessarily be because his balls are too big, but rather because his legs are too long. That is something I’ve noticed with my husband when we ride on the bus. My husband is a tall dude, probably over 180 cm, and his legs definitely reflect that. His femur is twice the size of mine. So when we sit on the bus, it’s rare to find a seat where the seat in front of us is far enough for my man to sit comfortably without manspreading his way to a split. Maybe on the subway it’s a different issue. I guess we’ll find that out when we travel to the States in June.
The major problem in Jerusalem, and I think it’s the same in every Israeli city with a significant religious population, is that if you’re a chick and you see an orthodox dude sitting on the bus with an empty seat next to him, you should not sit next to him. The orthodox reasoning for that stupid more is that if a woman sits next to a man and they are not married, a hard-on may occur and that is a sin.
Now, most buses in Jerusalem have a sign that reads “Every passenger is entitled to sit where they choose (unless in places marked for people with physical disabilities). Harassing a passenger on this matter may be grounds for criminal offense.” Or something along those lines. So technically, you can play the dumb tourist and sit next to the dude. He might say something, or he might just do the polite thing and go sit elsewhere or just stand up.
But there are some buses – mainly those that drive to and from settlements around Jerusalem like Beitar Eilit or Gush Etzion – that fall under the category of “Mehadrin” buses. A funny term, usually associated with dietary laws, to refer to something that is very kosher. It’s just a better way of saying that this bus is fucking segregated! That’s right, men sit in the front, and women are relegated to the back. Now THAT, my friends, is MANSPREADING!
I dare anyone in the diaspora to find a single man who can manspread so wide that he takes up half a bus, and sends all women to the very back. You can’t. And Mehadrin buses or Mehadrin subways do not exist in the diaspora.
Therein lies the real problem. Men will be men living in a by-men-for-men world and will keep manspreading to their hearts’ content, not that I’m justifying it or anything. But the real problem, where I come from, is when men start segregating women completely. There is word that they are actually starting to do that also on international flights. El-Al is screwed.
Lucky for me, I’m married. So if my meaty metalover decides to manspread, I will have no problem stretching out my legs and put them right on top of his. I do that all the time anyway – on the bus, at a bar, on the dinner table, even when we’re home, sitting on the couch, watching TV – and it’s comfy as hell!
Peace, love and I manspread too, and with pride!