If you’re a guy heading to Madrid any time soon, then be careful when taking a seat on public transport. Sit with your legs too far apart – the practice commonly known as “manspreading” – and you could be breaking the law.
The Municipal Transportation Company (EMT) has announced that it will be introducing new signage to all trains, buses and metros in a bid to stop the space-invading posture. The sign will incorporate a manspreading red stick man next to a red cross and the words “Respect the space of others”; it will be displayed alongside signs exhorting travellers not to smoke, litter, or put their feet on seats. The new information icon indicates the prohibition of taking a seating position that bothers other people,” said the EMT. It’s to remind transport users to maintain civic responsibility and respect the personal space of everyone on board”.
The ban comes on the back of feminist organisation Mujeres en Lucha’s online petition which saw the hashtag #MadridSinManspreading (Madrid Without Manspreading) go viral. “It is not something that occurs sporadically, if you look, you will realise that it is a very common practice”, said the petition. “It is not difficult to see women with their legs closed and very uncomfortable because there is a man next to them who is invading her space with his legs”.
Madrid has taken its cue from New York City, where in 2014 men were banned from manspreading thanks to the “Dude, Stop the spread please” campaign. Police officers actually arrested those who flouted the rules, though charges were later dropped. It’s not yet clear whether Madrid manspreaders who continue to violate the law will meet the same fate.