Who knew that the term manspreading is considered deeply sexist? I didn't
A nameless user proposed to delete the term from an answer of mine. His explanation was “remove misandry”. I had written
[someone] who spreads their legs and invades your space (AKA manspreading)
The comment got me thinking. At first, I was quite flabbergasted and speechless. Agreed, the term is not complimentary, but I had considered it mainly to be a humorous term that was basically stating a truth. Men often do sit with their legs apart. It can show swagger, confidence, and suggest dominance. It can be due to their height, the taller the man, the more difficult it is for him to close his legs when seated in public transport.
That's what I thought
But according to one spinal neurosurgeon, John Sutcliffe, the reason is two-fold
“The overall width of the pelvis is relatively greater in females and the angle of the femoral neck is more acute. These factors could play a role in making a position of sitting with the knees close together less comfortable in men,” he told The Independent.
“I suspect most men would suggest the reason for adopting the more spread posture in sitting would be the avoidance of testicular compression from the thigh muscles. The pelvic rotation goes some way to improve compression in both aspects,” Sutcliffe continued.
I suppose that makes sense. The phenomenon is dictated by physiological differences that are inherent in men and women's bodies.
I turned to Wikipedia. It confirmed the user's standpoint, and why he suggested its removal
Both this posture and the use of the neologism "manspreading" have occasioned some internet criticism and debates in the US, UK, Turkey, and Canada. The public debate began when an anti-manspreading campaign started on the social media website Tumblr in 2013; the term appeared a year later. OxfordDictionaries.com added the word "manspreading" in August 2015. Use of the term has been criticized as "a caricature of feminism" and the practice has been juxtaposed with examples of women taking up excessive space in public spaces with bags.
Further on, it supplies a female equivalent of the term
The criticism and campaigns against manspreading have been counter-criticized for not addressing similar behavior by women, such as taking up adjacent seats with bags, or "she-bagging".
So much controversy over a non-vulgar term, living in Italy I had no idea about the heated debate this term has sparked. So to make some sort of amends, I edited my answer and now it reads
[someone] who spreads their legs and/or invades your space (AKA “manspreading” or “she-bagging”)
But it's not a perfect fit. And she-bagging doesn't work if you're talking about an airplane seat, does it?
- What would be a gender-neutral equivalent of manspreading. A term that would not offend men, but could be applied to both sexes?