Knowingly or not, you have seen the phenomenon of "manspreading" in nature. You've probably been its unwitting victim. The slow (or rapid) creep of a knee into your own by a guy (indeed, it is always a guy) taking up more than his fair share of real estate on public transit. I'm not talking about the equally obnoxious habit of placing a bag on the seat beside you. This is different. This is specific.

Left unchecked, the scourge of "manspreading" will proliferate like algae, if algae got up in the morning, put on khakis and edged out its knees until it took up two, sometimes three subway seats. Our own Jake Dobkin has done his best to educate the nation's NPR listeners on the ills of the manspread, but we knew there was more to be done. We had to go into the belly of the beast, to try to connect with the perpetrators on a human level. It was...awkward.


"Manspreading"by Gothamist

Everyone we spoke with was very cordial, and no one used the term "ball sack," which was a welcome surprise. Many manspreaders were promptly contrite; others explained that they were happy to rein it in if anyone wanted to sit down. No one screamed or kicked or spread wider in defiance.

The MTA is planning a campaign to raise awareness about mass transit etiquette, but we still have a long way to go. The next time you get on the train, look down at your own knees—how far apart are they? If there's space enough for a litter of puppies or a celebrity selfie group shot, you are taking up too much space. Pull it in. Don't make us find you.