They’re claiming it’s biologically necessary. Nope. It’s still rude.
2015 was a big year for manspreading.
The MTA announced its “Dude…Stop the Spread, Please” campaign in December of 2014, and people ran with it. By August, “manspreading” had drawn enough global scorn to land itself a definition in the Oxford English Dictionary.
That should’ve been the end of it. Surely the amount of shame brought on public practitioners of manspreading would be enough to wipe out the phenomenon entirely.
But some people aren’t ready to zip it. And failing every appeal to male privilege and the general selfishness of commuters, one man sought a new source of justification: science.
In an article published on EconoMonitor, data scientist Mark Skinner states his case, in “fancy science-y language”:
Based on our multivariate analysis of anthropometric parameters across multiple data sets, manspreading appears to be an adaptive strategy that men employ due to innate morphological characteristics.
Basically, he writes, it’s an issue of body proportions. In his data set, men’s shoulders clocked in at 28 percent wider than their hips. (According to Skinner’s data, for women, the shoulder/hip width difference drops down to 3 percent.) The MTA campaign’s cartoon man, in all his rectangularity, fails to convey this variance.
Consequently, Skinner writers, men have to resort to using their knees “like the proverbial cat’s whiskers” to determine if their seat will provide adequate room for their ample torsos.
Skinner recounts being forced to awkwardly hunch forward in his seat to accommodate the width of his shoulders. “It’s anecdotal,” he writes, “but it’s still a really annoying experience.”
Even if there is a shred of statistical truth to this matter, consider this: since when has knowing the so-called reasoning behind an annoying fact of urban life made it any easier to stomach? Sure, you might be aware that some subway doors’ lack of sensitive edges keep them from reopening when you’re sprinting for the train. But does it help you achieve a Zen state as you wait on the freezing platform for the next one? No.
So a suggestion to anyone out there planning to apply Skinner’s logic on their next commute: just don’t.
Instead, follow the lead of the human cube—or, you know, most women—and keep your limbs to yourself.