Privacy is kind of a big deal to me. Some people might raise their eyebrows at that, considering my whole life is an open book on the internet, but it really is. Everything I share here is specifically curated to not reveal too much (and if I feel something does reveal more than I’m comfortable with, I have no qualms about deleting posts or setting them to private).
It’s also my business to share that information. I don’t share too much of anyone else’s lives, because those aren’t my stories to share. I use fake names for all my friends. I don’t post pictures of mine or anyone else’s face.
For deeply personal reasons, I am vehemently against taking pictures of people without their consent. Even if what they’re doing is unbelievable. Even if it would go viral and get me All The Views. I don’t do it, because it is not my place to take someone’s face and put it up on the internet.
Recently, I kind of broke this rule of mine.
Now, I didn’t take a picture of this person, really. I took a picture of my own lap. It just so happened that this person had so completely spread himself into my space that I could not take a picture of my own lap without getting his arm in the shot.
Let’s talk about manspreading, and how I’m about to start stabbing people on the bus, yea? Allen defended this practice over at the Midnight Goose and he makes a solid point about what cismen are dealing with down there. Manspreading is still bullshit, but he makes a good biological point.
When I (and I would wager most women and AFAB folks) talk about manspreading, I’m not talking about men who’s legs are slightly parted because they have things between them and sitting on those things is uncomfortable. I’m fat. When I sit down, my thighs spread out no matter how tight I keep my knees together. I understand that people naturally take up a certain amount of space. I have a large chest and I’ve accidentally rolled over onto one of those fat sacs, digging the hard bones of my ribcage into soft tissue. Sitting on your balls is probably much worse. At least I had the mattress to cushion me on one side; bus seats aren’t exactly known for being plush. So, I understand your desire to give the goods some room.
Natural space-taking becomes manspreading when it starts to spill over into the realm of people around them. Most often it takes the form of men opening their legs far more than necessary, hence the term “manspreading,” but it’s used to refer to all the ways in which men sprawl and take up public space which doesn’t belong to them.
Case in point, my lap picture:
This photo was taken while I was on the trolley, on my way to school. Even looking at it now enrages me. As you can probably tell from the photo, this man was seated in front of me. When he sat down, he leaned his arm far enough over the back of the seat that it touched my foot (if you can’t tell from the photo, my legs are crossed and my foot was resting on top of my knee).
The assumption seeing this photo might be that this man was leaning over to try to talk to me, or sitting sideways in the seat to look out the window. Neither of which were true. He never said a word to me. His head was turned towards the front of his seat the entire time he was in front of me.
He had two whole seats to himself, but still felt the need to reach back and invade my space, as well.
Men like this asshole ruin it for the rest of you. Because this? This has absolutely nothing to do with the biological discomfort of whatever is going on between his legs. He just felt like spreading out all over the place and claiming as much territory as he could, even if it meant putting his goddamn elbow on top of my foot.
“But what about that biological discomfort, Adie? Certainly you can agree that has nothing to do with claiming territory?”
Well, yes and no. Do I think when men spread their legs so far their knees dig into mine they’re trying to send me a message about who’s in charge? Are they trying to tell me, “No, this is my seat now, bitch?” Probably not.
Do I think they’re entitled assholes who have been raised to believe that all space belongs to them, even when it’s clearly occupied by another person (usually read as a woman)? Abso-fucking-lutely. Men feel entitled to everything.
When a dude manspreads, he’s probably not thinking, “Gee, I hope my knees digging into this girl next to me isn’t bothering her.” They’re probably thinking, “Damn, I wish this girl wasn’t sitting here so my knee wasn’t digging into hers. Now my balls and my knee hurts!”
They think, “Why should I squeeze myself into my designated space when it makes me uncomfortable?”
What they should be thinking is, “Why should the person next to me have to sacrifice their small amount of comfort for mine?”
Listen, dudes. I’m fat and bus seats are small. I get it. You think I want to spend forty minutes with every muscle in my backside and thighs clenched to avoid my chub spreading out into the neighboring seat? Of course not. But, it’s the polite thing to do and I’m a decent human being. I know that the person next to me is sitting in the same uncomfortably small amount of space I am and why should they have to give up even an inch of that so my literal fat ass can relax and spread out?
If sitting in the designated seat is just too tight of a squeeze, you have the option to stand. You can spread your legs out a lot easier if you just stand the hell up!
And, yea, standing on a crowded bus sucks. But, does it suck more than sitting on your balls?
How about me stabbing you in the leg with a pencil? Because that’s what’s gonna happen the next time one of you fools sticks a knee or elbow into my fucking bubble.
I love you all.
*I would like to revisit this topic when I’m feeling less homicidal. I do not like being touched, however accidentally, especially by strangers. When I can think about this incident without screaming, I will probably rewrite this post to be a little more objective. Until then, I hope you enjoyed your ride on the rage train.
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