I was at a marketing event last month when the woman I was with looked annoyed. It was break time so I asked her what was wrong. She replied, “The guy next to me is manspreading and it’s driving me crazy.” Yep – manspreading; you can imagine the meaning.
In August, the word manspreading was added to the online Oxford Dictionary. Here is the official definition: The practice whereby a man, especially one traveling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats. There is a lot of commentary out in cyberspace about the usage of the word and it’s gendered specificity. It’s true that men are not the only ones who encroach on the space of others, women take up too much space at times too!
Back to my situation. I coached my female colleague to take on a power position of her own and to take her personal space back. There are specific body positions we can take that will boost our confidence and give us an internal feeling of power; we practiced those positions together and I reminded her that all people tend to take on the opposite position when someone exhibits a powerful stance. In this case, the fellow next to us was taking up too much space and instead of pushing back and claiming her space, my colleague shrunk; it’s a normal response; yet, in my opinion we women seem to be the shrinkers too often. However normal it is, it’s a response we can change and that is exactly what my friend did! After the break, with her confidence and power hormones circulating through her bloodstream, she claimed all of her allotted physical space. When the fellow returned to his seat and sat down he bumped into my colleague. He did apologize then adapted his position. Often it’s all it takes – we women need to stand up for our space and the men will usually check themselves.
So here’s my suggestion for you. Speak up. Take your space. Stand up tall. And please support other women.
Tell us – have you dealt with manspreading lately? What did you do?