Spread It

I’d been invited to a kid birthday party, and in my circle of friends, that means there can be way more adults than kidlets. I had gone around the kitchen island to get some snacks, and was heading past the dining room table with all its seated parents to get to the living room.

One dad had his chair pushed into the aisle, and his elbow thrown over the back of the chair.

“Excuse me,” I said.

He politely moved right away to let me past.

I gave him a shrewd look and said “You’re really manspreading there.”

He’s a cosmopolitan guy, and stretched further into the space to show how very manspreading entitled he could be, leaning into my accusation in hyperbolic humor.

He knew what manspreading means. Do you?

I’ve since realized that it’s not universally known. Women started to complain about the space men habitually took up while riding on public transportation.

This sort of thing is very familiar:

It is not limited to transit. I’ve been noticing men with their legs and elbows out in any chair they land in. At work, at church, at little kids’ birthday parties.

I know as a woman, I am hyper-conscious of the space my body takes up in public space. Like it’s an expensive  piece of real estate and I’m not sure I can afford it.

I am not bringing this up to accuse men of entitlement. That’s covered well elsewhere.

I’m reading a new book Presence. The author, Dr. Amy Cuddy, gave this TED talk. Go ahead and click  after you’re done reading my weekly wonder, it’s good.

The book was written after the TED talk, and goes into so much more detail about how being positive and optimistic makes us better people. Happier people, more effective at our jobs, at anything we set our minds to.

So those entitled men spreading their body parts all over the landscape? Maybe they have something to teach me. I have been endeavoring to stick my elbows out and stretch my legs like I’ve got a right to.

Why not?

Do you have any idea how FOREIGN it feels to let my knees fall apart and stretch my legs out under a table?

This is something girls are absolutely trained not to do.

Even standing at our full height without cocking a hip to seem shorter (assuming the woman in question is tall) is rare.

And high heels for short women. If some of you reading are unaware of manspreading, perhaps you are also unaware of another female phenomenon.

Some women I have met are so accustomed to wearing high heels that their calf tendon has shortened, and it is painful to be in flat shoes.

True story.

People, I am unwilling to shrink myself anymore. I am sure I will fall into it sometimes, but I am moving into a bigger space, and I invite you to join me.

Hands on hip, wide stance, taking on the world.

It can’t hurt and there is evidence that it helps.

Maybe you can learn how to fly.