Move over, manspreading: there’s a new agent of patriarchy in town

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Photo by Brandon Hillier

There are few places as prone to displays of bullshit male entitlement as public transit. Whether it’s an overcrowded bus, a SkyTrain car, or even the SeaBus, they’re all incubators for patriarchy — and that’s never been more evident than it is today.

First, there was manspreading: the act in which a male boasts an exuberant amount of empty space between his legs, effectively spreading patriarchy and taking up more room than he needs to in a public area. Someone is manspreading if he ignorantly occupies more than one seat with his spread-eagle legs, perhaps wanting to leave extra room for his ego to breathe. It’s an act that Jezebel once called “somehow both annoying and hilarious.”

But now, there’s an even bigger threat to equality between the sexes: we need to talk about the societal epidemic of manlaying.

What is manlaying? Picture this: you step onto a bus, tired from spending your day fighting to eliminate sexism in the office and demanding the same respect as your co-workers who just happened to be born with a scrotum. You glide towards the back of the bus, hoping to score a seat for the long commute home when you see it: three men, all laying face up across three different rows of seats. The patriarchy has spoken, and you have to stand for the next 45 minutes.

You’ve never noticed manlaying in public spaces? That doesn’t surprise me. We’ve become so desensitized to these sorts of masculine antics that we don’t even register them as a problem anymore. We accept them as just another facet of our society and continue about our day, ignorant that injustice is laying—or manlaying—right before our eyes.

But manlaying isn’t just about a man taking up five seats at once while riding the bus; it’s not about having to stand while someone who earns more money for the same work, lies completely horizontal in front of you. It’s an indication of a larger, systemic issue that tells us we shouldn’t take up a quarrel with this.

I’m labelled as abrasive when I kindly ask a man to not lie across a row of chairs. I’m considered unladylike to speak my mind and want to enjoy the same worn-out TransLink cushioning that my male counterparts feel entitled to. Where is the fairness in that?

Remember these plights the next time someone asks you if the world still needs feminism. Remember that it’s not abrasive to want to lie across an entire row of seats yourself. Don’t let patriarchy manlay over your rights as a woman and as a human being.