Madrid joins anti-manspreading campaign

Public transit system will place more signs enforcing one-seat-per-person rule

The Municipal Transportation Company in Madrid, Spain has announced that they will place more visible signage on their public transportation urging passengers to avoid spreading their legs wide while seated, hoping to promote “a civic and respectful use of the interior space”. The decision was reportedly influenced by a petition created by Spanish feminist organizations Microrrelatos Feministas and Mujeres en Lucha, which got 11,000 signatures towards enforcing a rule against what has been called “manspreading” on public transportation. “It is not difficult to see women with their legs closed and very uncomfortable because there is a man next to her who is invading her space with her legs,” the petition said in part. Alejandra de la Fuente, one of the organizers, explained her theory on why “manspreading” has increased in Spain: “It’s a question of culture. We women have always been told to occupy the least amount of space possible, and men haven’t.” The Municipal Transportation Company will also place more signs advertising the rules against putting feet on seats and playing loud music.

The term “manspreading” began entering the everyday lexicon in 2014, when a campaign began in New York City to shame male riders who took up multiple seats on the subway system. “I find myself glaring at them because it just seems so inconsiderate in this really crowded city,” said Kelley Rae O’Donnell, one of the leaders of the campaign against “manspreading”. Since then, Seattle and Istanbul, among other major world cities, have begun their own campaigns against the practice. “This situation is just men ignoring women and believing they own all public spaces,” said Tugce Sarigul, one of the organizers of the Turkish campaign. Because of statements like these, some men feel the campaign against “manspreading” is sexist in nature, but that hasn’t stopped more major transportation hubs from joining in the fight.

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