Manspreading Is A Scourge We Must Have The Balls To Stamp Out

Spread the word.

There has been so much talk lately about sexism in sport, Serena Williams' outburst at the US Open once again highlighting the vast difference between how men and women are treated in that arena. Slut-shaming in politics. The realities of women being paid less than their male counterparts.

But I'm here to tell you, those problems are nothing. Nothing. When you look at the constant battle many women face. Every. Single. Day.

And I'm one of those women.  And this is my story.

It happened again today. It was an unremarkable start to the morning -- coffee, packing lunch, running for the bus. And it was then that the horror unfolded.

I boarded the bus, found my seat. Sat down, careful to smoothe my jacket against me and tuck myself up against the window so that someone could sit next to me with ease. I pressed play on my podcast and flicked through my emails as we rode down Oxford St towards the city.

And then HE got on. He scanned the bus for somewhere to sit... saw the vacant space next to me. Climbed in. Sat down. Spread out. And out. And out. His "male counterparts" were encroaching on my female ones.

And I was forced to fold up, crushed up against the window, my knees pushed into the corner, my limbs contorted as his expanded.

He was a manspreader. *Cue sharp intake of breath* *Cue dramatic music sting*

He was this guy:

Now it may not look that bad in the photo, but what you can't see is him then using his phone with his right hand so that his ELBOW IS CONSTANTLY DIGGING INTO MY SIDE. Dude, why can't you feel that? It's another person's body you're hitting. Every second or so.

Just yesterday, there was this. Same bus. Double manspreaders. My surreptitious recording of the moment done under a pretense of looking at my phone and holding it up as if I couldn't see the screen in the dim light like a 90-year-old woman. Genius acting. Should be a P.I. Or Meryl Streep?

Look, it's nothing new -- for years women have been documenting their experiences with manspreaders,  and in 2016 the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York even launched an official anti-"manspreading" campaign, encouraging subway riders to adopt "courtesy on public transport".

And still they spread. But after a moment in the spotlight last year, the fight against it seemed to waiver. There was a brief counterargument involving #shebagging, where men responded to our crusade by accusing us of taking up too much room with shopping bags. Pfff.

More recently the anti-manspreader movement was taken over by other "more important" issues like, well peace, North Korea, refugees in crisis and Trump (one of the world's biggest manspreaders it must be said, along with Putin, who's also famous for his ability to open his legs). And I get it. Kinda.

Image: Getty

But search for #manspreading on Instagram and today it reveals an international array of a staggering 40K posts, constantly updated. Many documenting an occasion when a man was taking up more than his fair share of space on public transport. Each a crotch shot no one wanted to see. Each bone-achingly annoying. My knees are seizing up as I type this -- the pain is palpable.

Now -- much as I don't want to encourage it, I feel it's important to say this (even though it pains me and my knees to do so):

APPARENTLY  UNDER SOME CIRCUMSTANCES WOMEN FIND THIS ATTRACTIVE.

I don't know these women. Who are they?

Findings reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that adopting an "expansive (vs. contractive) body posture increases one's romantic desirability".

Postural expansion can dramatically increase a person's chances of making a successful initial romantic connection," the report concluded, because it's "considered to express both dominance and openness."

I just don't know who we are anymore.

And yep, there are actually some physical excuses given for why men sit like that -- and no, it actually has nothing to do with the size of your package, so don't even GO THERE -- spinal neurosurgeon John Sutcliffe told The Independent that “the overall width of the pelvis is relatively greater in females and the angle of the femoral neck is more acute. These factors could play a role in making a position of sitting with the knees close together less comfortable in men.”

Awww, poor things. Please, in case you get any discomfort, squash me into half a seat and take away all feeling in my hips. I beg you.

There's also some evidence to suggest that countries like Poland, where for some reason there is a higher incidence of  hip dysplasia (where hips come out of the sockets) give rise to more manspreaders.

Note to self, don't head to Warsaw anytime soon.

Whatever the reason, I'm bringing back the movement to stop it. It's still a scourge. We've gone silent on it for too long. And my knees can't take it anymore.

Feature image: Getty