They’re not called the family jewels because they are ordinary. They’re not referred to as stones because they’re impervious to injury. No, they are both extraordinary and surprisingly fragile. So, sorry notsorry if we give them some breathing room when we sit, if we don’t smash them betwixt our legs on public transit. But as the horizon of “male privilege” is constantly expanding, giving the old wedding tackle ample space is now a crime against humanity.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced on Monday that a new campaign addressing courtesy on public transportation will come into effect by January. One of the targeted behaviors is ‘man-spreading’ — the act of spreading one’s legs so far apart that other passengers are forced to squish their own together.
Or, if you prefer a more nuanced description, one of the most infuriating and outright ridiculous display of male privilege and machismo in existence today. As Mic’s Derrick Clifton succinctly put it, ‘Hey, bro, you’re not that well-endowed.’
Maybe. You don’t know.
Granted, I don’t use public transit. I luxuriate in a nicely padded captain’s chair without panhandlers and formidable smells. If I lived in a dense urban area, I would likely take advantage of the added reading time that public transit offers. For now, though, I don’t have that option, so I crank the tunes and spread my legs far and wide. But as a member in good standing of the patriarchy, I have to stand up for my brethren who live in constant fear of oppression.
Even if my locale adds public transit, I’m not going to squash my yambag just to save a few inches. First, it’s science. Are you against science? I didn’t think so. Second, take it up with the transit authorities, who seem blissfully unaware that busses and trolleys are going the way of the dinosaurs. In a free market, there would be plenty of leg-spreading room. Get the feds involved and we unsurprisingly end up cramped and cloistered cluster of inefficiencies and dissatisfaction.
And third, just back off. Yes, I get your gripes about large bags, purses, junk sacks, backpacks, reusable bags (new euphemism opportunity?), and other large carriers of various accoutrements. Here’s the problem with those arguments: those comparisons are invalid unless said accoutrements are physically attached to the person sitting next to you. Granted, were I given the option, I would totally choose to have testicles. I’m on record as loving mine. Regardless, to treat physical comfort, backed by science, as a scourge on society is absolutely, completely, totally, wholly ridiculous. Large bags are neither backed by science nor comfort. Although perhaps useful, especially for urban dwellers who have a ton of shit to haul from here to there, they are not essential to life.
We Must Have Nothing Else to Deal With as a Society
But maybe life isn’t your bag (heh). You just want the trains to run on time. So stop worrying about how much male privilege is spread across the seat next to you, shut up, and enjoy the ride. (Double heh.) Because we’re likely just talking minor differences. Now, it’s true that when you spread minor differences across a large group the effect is multiplicative, but this is America dammit! We were a nation founded on freedom, on the right to pursue happiness, and that pursuit mentions nothing about ignoring our own comfort and smashing our coin purses to free up a modicum of seat space.
But I’m not unreasonable, so let’s do some math. Since I’m of average height and weight, we’ll use me. If I measure from outside of one knee to the outside of other while holding my legs in a smashing position, I’m at roughly 12 inches. If I spread out to a more comfortable position, that distance grows by 50 percent and moves up to 18 inches. Hey, I didn’t proclaim the math would be favorable. But it’s immaterial. For every two comfortable men, each train loses a whole seat. To which I say, suck it! Why is a man’s ticket worth less than anyone else’s?
Besides, the real focus of this campaign is not commuter comfort, increased commuter volume, or any other tangible metric. No, the real focus is Social Justice Warriors doing their normal best to be horrible human beings. (Aside: When do we allow them to just secede, even with some one-time financial backing, as it would be cheaper to pay them to be done with them, and move on? Maybe it’s time for a national conversation.)
But let’s be real: The best part of this campaign is its active attempt to squash man-spreading (other acceptable terms include ‘lava balls‘ and ‘subway sprawl’). The behavior is a blight on any public transportation system, and if you don’t think so, you’re probably doing it yourself.
The Tumblr accounts ‘Move the Fuck Over, Bro,’ ‘Men Taking Up Too Much Space on the Train‘ and ‘Saving Room for Cats‘ hilariously illustrate the ridiculousness of man-spreading with photos of dudes showing off their man-spreading behavior like a badge of honor. Opposition to it has picked up steam recently, so it’s reassuring to see that officials are taking notice.
Yes, it is reassuring that officials are taking notice of lava balls, subway sprawl, and saving room for cats. (How is saving room for cats applied to men and not angry spinsters? We’ll sit on that one, comfortably, and discuss at a later date.)
Apparently, Sitting Comfortably Is a Privilege
Man-spreading is a menace that must be stamped with a boot forever. Men must be made to stop sitting as though their biological endowments are a badge of honor. (Maybe they are. You don’t know.) Officials must be brought in to stanch the entire act of being a biological male with the concomitant hardware and needed space and breathing requirements.
Once upon a time, male privilege was relegated to working long hours, never seeing our families, and dying younger. Now we’ve expanded our privilege into areas like sitting comfortably. Good job, men. If we are to accomplish anything, we must continue to push forth, break new ceilings, claim new territory. It’s what we excel at.
So, to those who suffer under those would-be tyrants, those fascist control-freaks who lay all their problems at the comfortably stretched legs of a men simply trying to get from point A to point B, might I direct your attention to Frank T.J. Mackie. Yes, he is an extreme caricature, one meant to mock your enemies. But as you have done your best to become real-life versions of the caricatures against which Mackie was battling, he’s really the only option as reality passed you by a few trains ago.