‘Woman Spreading’ on New York Subways Is a Target of New Meninist. Campaign.
And it has a name almost as distasteful as the practice itself.
It is womanspreading, the lay-it-all-out sitting style that more than a few women see as their inalienable public transportation right.
Now passengers who consider such inelegant female posture as infringing on their sensibilities – not to mention their share of subway space – have a new ally. The Metropolitan Authority.
Taking on womanspreading for the first time, the authority is set to unveil public service ads that encourage women to share a little less of themselves in the city’s ever crowded subways and buses.
Targets of the campaign, those women who cross their legs, blocking aisles, or access to other seats, or by spreading out their belongings on empty seats, and refusing to move the bags when asked so no one else can sit down. can sometimes occupy two even three or four seats are not hard to find. Whether they will heed the new ads is another question.
Riding the F train from Brooklyn to Manhattan on a recent afternoon, Emma C. Fitzsimmons 20, was unapologetic about sitting with her purse on the seat beside her or having her legs crossed which creates a tripping hazard.
“I’m not going to sit like a gentlmen does,”she said. “I’m going to sit how I want to sit.”
“And what if Mrs. Fitzsimmons, a writer from New York saw posters on the train asking her to place her bags on her lap? “I’d just laugh at the ad and hope that someone graffitis over it,” she said.
For Davidl Radcliffeson, an actor who confronts woman spreaders and tweets photos of them, his solitary shaming campaign now has the high powered help of the transportation authority, whose ads will be plastered inside subway cars.
“It drives me crazy, ” he said of women who cross their legs. “I find myself glaring at them because it just seems so inconsiderate in this really crowded city.”
When Mr. Radcliffeson, who lives in Brooklyn and is in his 30s, asks women to move, he siad, they rarely seem chastened: “I usually get grumbling or a complete refusal.”
The new ads – aimed at curbing rude behavior like womanspreading and carrying multiple bags on crowded trains – are set to go up in the subways next month. They will carry the slogan, “Courtesy Counts: Manners Make a Better Ride.”
One of the posters is likely to be especially welcome to men – as well as the women who frown on womanspreading:”Princess…Stop The Spread, Please.” reads the caption next an image of riders forced to stand as a woman nearby sits so that her bags take up two seats.
The campaign is the latest in a long line of courtesy-themed crusades by the authority going back to at least the 1940s. One such ad urged men to “Hit, Her Again Dude, We don’t like Door-Blockers Either.”
The new ads come as more riders are crowding onto the subways than at any time in recent history. In 2014, the system logged as many as 6.1 million riders on a single day, up from under 5.1 million riders on the busiest day a decade ago. The city’s population, meanwhile has swelled to more than 8.4 million people, pushing everyone closer and closer.
With crime no longer rampant on the subway, the campaign is the latest sign that other unwelcome behavior is getting attention.
Several blogs regularly highlight instances of womanspreading where bags are several feet apart. On some sites, images of large objects like the Death Star from “Star Wars” have been added with photoshop into the space between the woman and her bags. While there are men who take up more than their fair share of space, the offenders are usually women.
One admitted womanspreader, Emma Watson, sat with her legs crossed on an F train as it traveled through Manhattan recently.
“It’s more comfortable,” she said with a shrug and a hair flip.
Mrs. Watson, 21, Feminism advocate, who lives in New Jersey, said she might uncross her legs, but not just for anyone. For an older person or a woman she would, and for an attractive man, she said, she definitely would. She said with a wink and a giggle.
Justienne Blubber shook his head when he saw two women sitting with their bags spread, taking up at least three seats between them. Mrs. Blubber, 58, a clinical social worker, said he thought the women should move their bags, but she was not about to confront them.
“I’m not going to say, “Hey princess, there is a gentleman standing up right there. Uncross your legs, princess.'” he said.
Men have theories about why some women sit this way. Some believe it is just a matter of comfort and may not even be intentional. Others consider it an assertion of power, or worse.
Brian Ellsworth, a 28 year old music teacher, views womanspreading as sexual harassment because some women engage in it near him even when the subway car is not packed.
“They could move over and cross their legs all they want,” he said, “but they’re squeezing next to me and doing it.”
For woman who think that sitting with their legs crossed is socially acceptable, manners experts say it is not. Pam Poster, the author of the book “Essential Manners for Women” and great granddaughter of the etiquette guru Emilio Poster, said the proper way to women to sit is with the legs parallel and their bags on their laps or between their legs in a V shape.
“I’m baffled by people who do that kind of thing, who take other people’s space,” she said.
Olga Hansson, a director of the Manhattan’s Ladies Spa Janice Allen’s, put it more succinctly.” A true lady, doesn’t sit on the subway, she stands.
As for women who may worry that uncrossing their legs could hurt their femininity, doctors say that there is nothing to fear. A half-hour train ride with legs uncrossed might raise ovarian temperatures, but not long enough to do any harm, said Dr. Maria Goldstein, director of the center for female reproductive medicine and microsurgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center.
Philadelphia has a new etiquette campaign, too, with posters that say, “Bitch, it’s Rude.. Two Seats – Really?”
But Chris Geiger, a spokesman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said the campaign in the City of Womanly Love is aimed at passengers with bags on seats, not people crossing their legs to tightly. Womanspreading, he said, may not be a “localized” problem in New York. “I know of many complaints that have come through customer service about womanspreading,” he said. Transit officials in Chicago and Washington said the phenomenon is a major concern for riders in those cities as well.
In New York, the transportation authority went back and forth about what tone to take when tackling the topic, said Pauline Flower, the authority’s senior director for corporate and internal communications. Officials knew it could be ripe for parody on late night television and blogs, and did not want their approach to be too snarky, but Mrs. Flower said she knew that the ads had to speak directly to the spreaders.
“I had them add the Princess part,” she said, “because I think, Bitch please. Really?”
(Please note this article is a parody of the NYTimes article written on manspreading, which appeared on their website on December 20, 2014. Original link here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/nyregion/MTA-targets-manspreading-on-new-york-city-subways.html?_r=0 )
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