I man-spreaded everywhere for a week and I’ve never felt more confident

Ciara Appelbaum
Apr 26, 2017 · 3 min read

Because screw gender norms, am I right?

Regardless of whether you’ve heard the term “man-spreading” or not, you’ve all witnessed it.

Ladies, you especially know what I’m talking about. The man sitting next to you is stretched out wide, without a care in the world, oblivious to the fact he’s taking up all your space and leaving you with no room.

If this situation hasn’t happened to you before, let me be the first to say, congratulations, you must be the man-spreader!

Although man-spreaders come in all genders, shapes, and sizes, in our society, sitting “like a lady” typically means crossing your legs, whereas sitting “like a man” tends to involve being open and broad.

Don’t get me wrong; however you like to sit is fine and groovy, but what if I told you man-spreading is psychologically proven to boost your confidence and reduce your stress levels?

Dr. Stephannie Walker, an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University, claims the way we sit may effect a lot more than we think.

“I’ve seen studies where, when a person’s posture was manipulated, the person’s feelings and behaviors changed along with their hormone levels. Participants saw an increase in testosterone and a decrease in cortisol, which is linked to stress.”

Sitting with your legs crossed at the knees has also been found to cause an increase in blood pressure.

This got me thinking, if sitting broadly is scientifically proven to reduce stress and boost confidence, then why don’t women sit this way too? After all, it’s not called man-spreading for nothing!

Dr. Walker attributes the differences in how men and women sit to social norms that dictate how a woman and a man should act according to societal gender roles.

“Depending on the situation, men are taught to sit in a way that takes up as much space as possible as a display of confidence or dominance, whereas women are taught to sit with their hands folded or ankles crossed.”

As someone who personally always tries to sit in a way that takes up as little space as possible, I decided to take the psychological studies to the test and see if man-spreading for a week could really emhance my feelings of confidence.

By the end of the week, I can confidently say I did feel a boost in personal confidence.

I’ll admit, at first, I felt highly uncomfortable man-spreading because people quite literally stared at me while I was doing it.

Hmm, I guess men really do notice those glaring stares we shoot at them!…

Regardless, after getting over the initial discomfort, I slowly became more and more comfortable taking up large amounts of space and drawing attention to myself in the process. By the end of the week, I didn’t even feel guilty. I hogged that armrest like I was unstoppable.

As far as stress levels go, I’ll deem my results inconclusive. As a full-time student working two jobs, it’s hard to determine if man-spreading had much of an effect on my overall stress levels because there are so many factors involved.

All in all, man-spreading made me feel more confident and more powerful. I totally get why men enjoy sitting this way, and I’m not planning on going back to my old crossed-leg way anytime soon!