nevermindtheend/Flickr

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.

No triangular torso for this guy. (MTA)

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.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.

  2. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  3. Amazon HQ2

    New York’s Ejection of Amazon Is the Start of a Movement

    NYC lawmakers who led a resistance campaign against HQ2 are declaring victory. And already, they have plans to escalate their opposition to tax incentives.

  4. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?

  5. Amazon HQ2

    Amazon’s HQ2 Fiasco Will Cost the Company More Than It Costs New York

    The mega-company has bucked dealing reasonably with New York City, Seattle, and any community that asks them to pay for its freight.