Manspreading: Why Are Men Taking Up Women’s Space?
Whether in the cinema or on the subway, almost all women have raised such questions: Why do all men have to open their legs to sit, legs have broken through the boundaries of the chair, invading the “territory” of the neighboring seat.
In fact, men sitting with separate legs is a very common problem, and even as early as 2013, Tumblr was critical of men sitting with separate legs. Manspreading was even included in the 2015 Oxford dictionary to describe the phenomenon of “men sitting with their legs wide apart (especially on public transportation), which causes space in the adjacent seat to be squeezed.”
As criticism of this indecent behavior has grown, public transportation systems have undertaken campaigns to keep men from engaging in it. “Why do men have to sit with their legs spread out?” When faced with discontent, men have responded in varied ways: some say it’s the biological structure of men. The majority of the participants said they weren’t aware of it and spread their legs more out of habit. Many others said that sitting with their legs apart made them feel “more manly” (implying that sitting with legs close together is a sign of femininity).
Men are accustomed to sitting with their legs apart, indeed, related to the male biological structure.
If you sit with your knees tightly together, you will squeeze the male genitalia. The male reproductive system (especially on the testicles) has a very dense distribution of nerves and is extremely sensitive. Because of this innate ” burden “, how to place the genitals, in many scenarios, is a problem for men. This includes the sitting position, when they are in the sitting position, the male genitalia actually is not in a very comfortable state, and legs (knees together) will exacerbate this discomfort. The legs can reduce the pressure of the thigh muscles on the genital organs, and the rotation of the pelvis also reduces the pressure on the sides of the hips to some extent.
If it’s just to be more comfortable, why do you have to spread your legs at such a wide angle that it disturbs others? There is also a psychological dimension behind the posture of spreading legs wide apart. Sitting with your legs apart can have a positive impact on the mental health of men.
Traditionally, it is believed that “human behavior is a psychological expression”: sitting with legs apart is a “body-expanding” action that shows inner dominance and the confidence of “control”. As psychological research progresses, researchers have found that cognition is influenced by the body and that both physical actions and the external environment affect cognitive production. In short, human behavior will in turn affect the psychological condition.
Have you ever heard of Amy Cuddy TED Talk “fake it until you make it?” In this video, she advises people to change their posture to a “power posture” for 2 mins before a job interview, it would increase people’s confidence and result in better performance. And power pose literally means “invading” more space.
Higher levels of testosterone (in both men and women) lead to increased feelings of confidence. Meanwhile, lower levels of cortisol lead to decreased anxiety, and an improved ability to deal with stress. Maintaining an expansive body posture allows for a rise in testosterone, a drop in cortisol, and a greater sense of power gain. In other words, the body posture of sitting with legs apart can enhance a person’s self-confidence.
Cultural factors and misogyny:
Some believe that men sitting with their legs spread can bring positive effects in terms of interpersonal attraction. A survey was done in which photos of men in different postures were given to the women, and the results showed that 87% of women think that photos of men sitting with their legs apart are more attractive. Conversely, men who sit with their legs crossed are perceived as “fragile” and “girly”. A study by the University of California also showed that men are more sexually attractive when they stretch their legs and arms.
In other words, the action of spreading the legs to a certain extent, to show male attractiveness, is more majestic and masculine. The stretching of the body will take up more space, giving others a sense of intimidation, appearing more “masculine” and will indeed be perceived as offensive and aggressive to others.
Men often exploit the woman’s space. It would be humiliating for any woman seated with arms wide open in public to face slut-shaming, never mind those in dresses or skirts. Having power poses would be perceived as inconsiderate and aggressive (which is a good characteristic when describing men). It just doesn’t seem fair to me any longer. Women wearing shorts and pants, let’s change that. Let’s spread our legs and stretch. It is only fair that we follow the lead of our male counterparts.