(Un)Learning How to Take Up Space

Author’s note: The use of public space by different people is a complex issue. It gets even more complicated when you factor in race, ability, age, class, and other things. I am writing as a  white, transfeminine, genderqueer, lower class, able-bodied, young person with mental illness. There are many problems that I do not face because of my identities that others do. I highly recommend reading more about these issues from the perspective of people of color, differently-abled people, and those with other marginalized identities to fully grasp the depth of the problems associated with inhabiting public space.

Manspreading is a term that describes men spreading their legs out when they are sitting or standing in public places. To many, talking about “manspreading” seems trivial, if not downright stupid. However, the act of manspreading is important to understanding systems of power and oppression in our society. It is one out of many behaviors that result from being socialized as a man, and discussing it is part of a greater conversation about male privilege.

There are a lot of important questions around these behaviors that often aren’t noticed, discussed, or challenged. For example: Why is it “normal,” or even appropriate, for men to take up so much public space? Do many of us even recognize that men generally take up more public space than women? Why are women socialized to take up less public space? Where do trans/non-binary people fit when they’ve been socialized to take up public space according to the gender they were assigned at birth? Continue reading “(Un)Learning How to Take Up Space”