‘Manspreading’ gives out the wrong message
The greens group on Paris city council is urging action against so called ‘manspreading’ on public transport – the practice of men sitting with their legs wide apart taking up space from other passengers.
Councillor David Belliard told fellow councillors ‘manspreading’ is discriminatory and asked the council to speak to the management of RATP and Ile de France Mobilités [who together run transport systems across the capital and its region] about an educational campaign.
The issue first attracted attention in English-speaking countries although critics say it is taking feminism too far while others accuse women in turn of taking up space with their bags, known as ‘she-bagging’.
Mr Belliard told Connexion: “There’s a problem in general with inconsiderate behaviour on public transport and in Paris for a start taking public transport is complicated; there’s not enough space.
“‘Manspreading’ is a real thing. It’s a male practice and somewhat male chauvinist and a campaign of prevention and information is a good opportunity to consider wider questions about the place of women in the public space.”
As for whether women may be guilty of ‘she-bagging’, he said: “You can always find examples of women also acting inconsiderately but it’s not in the same proportions, and it doesn’t put out the same messages.
“On the one hand, yes, there’s the question of inconsiderateness and one seat space should equal one space, but there’s also this particular practice which marks a certain vision, a certain perception of men who are able to occupy all of the public space that they can, and women who are squashed and use a tiny bit. We need equality.
“It comes down to good manners and knowing how to live alongside others and as ‘manspreading’ wasn’t included in the campaigns of the RATP and Paris and Ile-de-France transport we’ve asked for it.”
Mr Belliard added: “In The Greens we have a tradition and political culture that means we are particularly committed to issues of equality between the sexes – so we are following in the footsteps of the values we’ve defended since we were started around 40 years ago.”