News & Politics

'Manspreading' Is Science, Not Sexism

A "manspreading"assenger doing a crossword puzzle. Photo by Elvert Barnes (published under creative commons)

Feminists suddenly think the way men sit is a problem. With our legs spread out just a bit, making room for “the boys” and to be a bit more comfortable, we’re guilty of an “act of dominance that is the result of deep-rooted societal privilege borne of our patriarchal society.”

Are they right?

Yeah … I don’t think so, and I’m not alone. Science agrees:

Here’s what happens when someone like me sits with my knees close together: The round ball at the top of the femur will pinch against the outside edge of the acetabulum (the hip socket), straining the labrum that lines the socket. To get into that position, I have to activate the adductor muscles on my inner thighs. That automatically triggers resistance from the abductor muscles on my outer thighs, creating tension that can reach all the way up into the lower back. The second I release the contraction, my thighs spring apart, leaving a gap of about 15 inches from the center of each kneecap, more than three-quarters of the distance to a proper manspread.

Women, on the other hand, have a wider pelvis and thighbones that more naturally angle in toward the body’s midline, rather than away from it. Sitting with the knees close together is a stress-free position most of the time, although that changes during pregnancy, when the weight of the belly pushes the knees out.

Differences in hip anatomy aren’t just gender-specific. They differ by your regional ancestry as well. One fascinating consequence of these differences, McGill says, is the close relationship between orthopedic disease rates and athletic ability. Poland, for example, is the epicenter of hip dysplasia — hips coming out of the socket. But because shallow hip sockets allow deep, ass-to-calves squats, Poland also produces a lot of great Olympic weightlifters.

In other words, there are anatomical reasons why men sit the way they do. It’s not a matter of power dominance, but because our skeletal system is put together just a bit differently.

So why is “manspreading” such an issue? The answer is simple. Feminists view everything from the perspective of power dynamics. It’s their primary tool, and when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.

By looking at everything as having something to do with power dynamics, they view men sitting the way they do as another example. After all, women can sit with their knees together easily enough, why can’t men do the same?

When men try to explain that sitting like that is uncomfortable, they often lack an understanding of just why it’s uncomfortable. Our lower bodies aren’t put together in such a way that sitting in that manner is remotely comfortable.

Yes, men do it. We do it all the time because etiquette calls for us to make room for others on buses, subways, and even crowded sofas. We deal with a bit of discomfort in order to be polite.

Yet it is still discomfort, something female feminists don’t typically experience when they sit. They dismiss our experiences because it doesn’t match their own — something that a man would be crucified for doing in reverse, I might add.

It makes you wonder just what else the feminists have botched by viewing the issue only through a blinkered worldview.