Women’s group lead Spanish campaign for more civilized train riding

The city of Madrid has a new enemy: “manspreading.”

Manspreading is the habit of some men to spread out wide and take a whole bus seat.

I have had a problem in the past—I used to open my legs, I was told off and told to leave space (for others), said 56-year-old Alvaro Nadal, a municipal employee. “I hadn’t paid more for my seat. So I think the campaign is something good.”

Manspreading was enough of a problem in Madrid that a women’s group decided to act.

Mujeres en Lucha (Fighting Women) had enough of men acting like beasts in public spaces. They started an online petition calling for an awareness program. Eventually Madrid’s Municipal Transport Company adopted their plan.

There has been a public discussion as to whether this was a problem of education generally, not just a case of gender or whether it was a case of machismo deep within our culture,” said Madrid Diversity Councilwoman Celia Mayer. “The lesson that we give our young women is to occupy a very reduced space in public, whilst in men this idea is not so common. What has happened is that this debate has made women—while using public transport, metro or bus—observe what they are seeing more, and this has created a public debate through which the use of public space, how we sit, how we consider who we have next to us have become a political subject.”

Manspreading is just one part of the bus company’s new program.

Included are keeping one’s feet off the seat, not eating or drinking … basic civilities, which people all too often forget to observe.

So far people seem to be accepting the program. Madrid’s underground train company said it had no plans to follow suit.

New York City started its own anti-manspreading campaign on subway cars in 2014.

 
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