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. Design

    Paris Will Create the City's Largest Gardens Around the Eiffel Tower

    The most famous space in the city is set to get a pedestrian-friendly redesign that will create the city’s largest garden by 2024.

  2. A woman walks down a city street across from a new apartment and condominium building.
    Design

    How Housing Supply Became the Most Controversial Issue in Urbanism

    New research has kicked off a war of words among urban scholars over the push for upzoning to increase cities’ housing supply.

  3. A photo of police officers sealing off trash bins prior to the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo in 2015.
    Life

    Carefully, Japan Reconsiders the Trash Can

    The near-absence of public garbage bins in cities like Tokyo is both a security measure and a reflection of a cultural aversion to littering.

  4. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  5. Design

    Bringing New Life to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Designs

    “I would love to model all of Wright's work, but it is immense,” says architect David Romero. “I do not know if during all my life I will have time.”