Most, if not all, of us have had the supremely annoying experience of having our personal space invaded by a man spreading his legs on public transport. And if you’re anything like us, you may regularly find yourself pushing back against the entitled culprits in retaliation, because, feminism.
So, we’re pretty envious of women in Madrid, whose city will be installing signs on trains and buses prohibiting manspreading, as the phenomenon is known. The signs feature an illustration of a man with his legs spread wide on a Metro seat beneath a red “X”, to show it’s prohibited, and text urging travellers to “respect the space of others”, the Independent reported. It's not yet clear whether wrongdoers will be fined for their boorish behaviour, however.
The Spanish capital’s Municipal Transportation Company (EMT) will be putting up the posters in all its carriages and vehicles, along with others warning against different inconsiderate behaviours, including littering, smoking, eating and putting feet on the seats.
EMT said on Wednesday: “The new information icon indicates the prohibition of taking a seating position that bothers other people,” reported the Independent. “It’s to remind transport users to maintain civic responsibility and respect the personal space of everyone on board.“
Manspreading has been a talking point among Madrid's feminists for a while, with the group Mujeres en Lucha (Women in Struggle) heading the movement against it. They started a petition earlier this year and the accompanying hashtag, #MadridSinManspreading (#MadridWithoutManspreading), went viral on social media.
"It’s not difficult to see women with their legs shut and very uncomfortable because there is a man next to them who is invading their space with his legs,” the petition read.
In April, Spain's left-wing CUP party called for a national campaign against manspreading, hailing it an equality issue and describing the behaviour as an “exhibition of machismo and a micro-aggression that can make the person suffering it uncomfortable,” the Independent reported.
Madrid isn’t the only city to have a strong position on manspreading. New York was one of the first to confront the issue in 2014, with its "Dude…Stop the Spread, Please," poster campaign on its Metro system. Its police even arrested people but eventually dropped the charges. Tokyo's public transport system ran a campaign against it decades ago, in 1976, and more recently again in 2012, and Vancouver also threw weight behind the issue in 2011.