Madrid is taking a cue from NYC transit and asking commuters to mind their manspreading

A bus speeds down the street in front of Madrid's Metropolis building.
Source: Jacinto Marabel Romo/Shutterstock
A bus speeds down the street in front of Madrid's Metropolis building.
Source: Jacinto Marabel Romo/Shutterstock

Ah, yes. Manspreading: the delicate art of men splaying out their legs in public spaces to take up as much room as possible, no matter the inconvenience to people around them who are forced to make themselves smaller to accommodate their sprawl.

The phenomenon is thusly named because men tend to be its biggest culprits, a detail that hasn't been lost on Madrid's transit authority, whose officials recently announced a new initiative to put an end to the habit.

According to CNN, new signs are set to appear on Madrid's buses, depicting a cartoon man intentionally taking up more than one seat with an "x" in the top corner.

"This new icon is similar to those already existing in other transport systems around the world to indicate the barring of body posture that bothers other people," a Madrid Municipal Transport Company official told CNN. New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority is among these transport systems, having launched its own anti-manspreading campaign in 2014.

"[Its] mission is to remind people of the need to keep a civil behavior and respect the space of everyone on the bus," the Madrid official continued.

A woman rides a Madrid bus.
Source: Pavel L Photo/Shutterstock

Manspreading has garnered attention in recent years as an everyday feminist issue. While, practically speaking, it's simply a nuisance anyone would take up more than one seat on public transit, feminists have made it clear manspreading is part of a broader problem concerning who feels entitled to taking up space.

And it's mostly men.

In 2015, Mic looked into what happens when women adopted the same masculine posture. It didn't go so well.

"As it turns out, people respond very differently to a woman taking up tons of space on the subway," Mic's Liz Plank wrote at the time. "It involves a lot more staring, glaring and photo-sharing. When men do it? Not so much."

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

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