9 Jun 2017

Madrid takes a stand on 'el manspreading'

9:36 am on 9 June 2017

Madrid's transport authority has taken a stand against the scourge of 'el manspreading' with a campaign to stop the space-encroaching sitting style.

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Photo: Flickr / nevermindtheend

Explaining that 'el manspreading' is an English term that refers to the posture of men who open their legs too wide and take up space in the next seats, the urban transit company, EMT, has put up signs in public buses.

"This new information icon is similar to what already exists in other transport systems worldwide to prohibit people adopting a body posture that bothers other people", the company said.

A sign on the Madrid public transport network. warning against 'el manspreading'.

Photo: EMT

The signs show a man spreading his legs to take up space in the next seat with a large red 'X' indicating it's not appropriate. It's not clear whether there would be a fine for those who defy the instruction.

EMT said it had worked with feminist group Microrrelatos Feministas collective, which started an online petition calling for signs to be installed in Madrid's buses and the city's subway.

The petition, which had more than 11,000 signatures within two weeks, said public transport had signs telling people to leave room for pregnant women, people with baby carriages, the elderly and people with a disability.

"But there is something that affects us all, practically every day we ride on public transport: manspreading."

Putting up signs, as the United States, Japan and Turkey had done, could be a starting point to raise awareness and to start respecting our spaces, the petition said.

Madrid's move follows New York's attempt to curb the behaviour; its Metropolitan Transportation Authority took on manspreading in 2014 with its "dude, close your legs" campaign.

EMT has used its anti-manspreading campaign to also remind passengers not to shout into mobile phones and "of course, do not smoke". "The mission .... is to remember the need to maintain civic behaviour and to respect the space of everyone on board the bus", its information said.