Ladies, this is mainly for you, but guys, this actually could potentially help you, too, if you have a manspreader next to you while on a plane.
Manspreading. It’s been happening for eons, but only in the past couple of years did it get a name and even its own Wikipedia page. By definition, “manspreading” is, ‘the practice whereby a man adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat.’ Although manspreading can happen anywhere, it’s a behavior that’s commonly spotted on public transportation.
Why people believe men (and occasionally women) spread is up for debate and hypotheses vary between simple pelvis shape (a man’s pelvis is narrower, which makes spreading more comfortable than keeping his knees closer together), a subconscious sense of wanting empowerment, and just wanting shall we say, to air things out, not squish things, or show things off. By the way, studies show that our subconscious reactions to manspreading vs. womanspreading are also very different. When males do it [especially when they spread, feet splayed outward and forearms leaning on their thighs], it’s seen as an attempt to look more powerful, manly or macho. For females, it’s considered rude and unladylike.
But whatever the case, when it’s done on a bus or subway, it’s easy enough for people to move or simply just not sit next to the spreader. In fact, some transit authorities have had ad campaigns to “stop the spread” on public transportation:
But if it happens on a plane, the seat mates next to the offending spreader are the ones who have no choice but to grin and bear it.
Or do they?
I think I’ve figured out the best way to stop a spreader from “plane spreading.” Now granted, you could simply ask the offending spreader to move his knees out of your space. If he’s considerate, he will. But if he’s in the habit of manspreading, it’s probably only a matter of time before his legs go apart and you’ve lost a third of your leg space again. And if he has earbuds, or is sleeping, asking him might not be a comfortable proposition because then you have to poke him or otherwise somehow get his attention.
Now, my technique won’t work on a bus or subway because there’s simply too much room there ;-). But on a plane, where it’s such close quarters I think I’ve got you covered. And all it takes is 3 steps:
1. Be the victim of manspreading.
This one is easy enough. He’s next to you, his knees are spread and suddenly you have to move your legs to one side to accommodate his encroaching your space.
2. Suddenly need to get something out of your bag that’s under the seat in front of you.
The only way you’re going to be able to reach your bag is if he moves his leg. A simple “excuse me, I need to get to my bag” should do the trick. And if he’s sleeping or has ear buds in, you at least have a valid excuse to get his attention, as opposed to, “Hey, wake up! Your leg is in my space. MOVE IT!” 😉
3. Fiddle in your bag, return to sitting position and move your leg to the invisible line between your space and his.
Since his leg is out of the way for the moment, it’s the best time to reclaim your space.
And once you have your leg space back, don’t even consider giving it up again. If he starts pushing against your leg, HOLD YOUR GROUND!
Sure it’s passive-aggressive. But you know what? It’ll work. And when you’re stuck in the uncomfortableness of a teeny tiny plane seat for hours on end, all’s fair in love, war and legroom. 😉
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary