Stop the spread ... The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s campaign against “manspreading”. Picture: The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Close Your Legs! #ManSpreaders

Have you ever noticed how males carry themselves differently than females? In general, “…men and women sit, stand, gesture, [and] walk… differently. Generally, women’s bodies are confined, their movements restricted,” according to Karin A. Martin in her article, “Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools,”(p. 2). Men are typically allowed to be more “informal”, they sit more spread out while sitting, gesture larger while taking, and take larger steps while walking. Women are supposed to sit “politely” by having their legs or ankles crossed and hands in lap, or to use smaller gestures while taking, take smaller steps while walking… Women are supposed to be an equivalent of a docile body, not to question or try to emulate the male “dominance”.

Notice how The man is sitting spread out, and the woman is sitting with her feet almost crossed together.

Michael Foucault explains a “docile body” as, “Of exercising upon it a subtle coercion, of obtaining holds upon it at the level of the mechanism itself — movements, gestures, attitudes, rapidity: an infinitesimal power over the active body,” in his article “Discipline and Punish ‘docile bodies’ (pgs. 136–137)”. Essentially, “docile” means to be obedient, submissive, lack of agency, or managed. These terms are usually thought of with women in mind. While dominant, the one who manages, in control of their own agency is usually associated with males.

When women step out of the “obedient, submissive/passive, shy, and non-threatening” role, it can make males unconformable.

Take, for example, Cassie J. Sneider, just this past June (2015). As she boarded a crowded train in New York, she noticed there were many people standing, while a man was taking up too much space by sitting with his LEGS WIDE OPEN. The extra space that could have been occupied by another person.

I do not believe this is not actually Cassie, this is an example of what “Manspreading” is.

She decided to fix this problem by doing something that was “out of character.”

She self-describes herself as (quoted from the article New York City commuter fights manspreaders by sitting on them, by Matthew Dunn):

“My parents constantly told me to be quiet. I made too much noise when I walked. I laughed too loudly. I weighed too much.
“I became a person who was afraid to speak up for herself, a woman who was too passive to say no on dates and on deadlines.”

What she decided to do made the man, “react so quickly to get away from another human being. There was terror, then disgust, then anger.


Sneider took on the “dominant” role, she did an action that is so unexpected for women to do that it bewildered that man. She went from not being able to speak up for herself, to coercing that man, and later others after trying to excuse herself first, to closing their legs and moving over to let her sit down on the train. She took control over her own agency, she has every right to have a seat on the train, and she makes sure males know that. It is almost like Sneider reversed the “docile body”, she is the one who manages their actions, the males are the submissive ones.

For as many guys as Sneider has sat on (so far…), though, it still seems like #ManSpreading is a problem in the crowded city of New York City. Apparently, there has been two arrests this past June (2015), for interfering with the “Authorities transit system” or with the comfort of other passengers. While they were not exactly charged, it started a campaign of “etiquette” (picture shown above).

So males, just because (most of) you are used to being “spread out” and taking up more space, does not mean you have to assert your “dominance” by taking up a seat that could have been taken up by somebody else… be courteous and CLOSE YOUR LEGS!

(just as a side note- I do not know why there is a “no” before the quote- I cannot remove it).