Life

Why women should manspread more (and it’s nothing to do with fighting the patriarchy)

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Lauren Geall
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Manspreading is good for women's bodies, says one orthopaedic surgeon.

According to one orthopaedic surgeon, manspreading could actually help women avoid some pretty significant health problems.

When you bring up manspreading in conversation, you’re likely to solicit one of two responses: a rather sarcastic eye roll, or a nod of solidarity.

Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “the practice whereby a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats,” manspreading has become a rather divisive turn among today’s commuters.

While we’re the first to admit that manspreading isn’t exactly the pièce de résistance of the modern feminist movement, there’s no denying that it can be bloody annoying on public transport. There’s something so entitled about the whole behaviour: while women’s seating positions have been policed for centuries (whether that’s being told to sit more “ladylike” or “sit up straight), it feels like men have been getting away with a rather more comfortable, relaxed position.

Of course, there’s been plenty of backlash against this rather annoying phenomenon. Earlier this year, design student Laila Laurel won a top award for her anti-manspreading chairs, which encouraged women to sit with their legs apart and men to sit with them closed. And the #womenspreading movement encouraged women to manspread too, in an attempt to push back against attempts to police women’s bodies. 

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However, according to new comments from one orthopaedic surgeon, there’s one more important reason why we should all be ditching the crossed legs for something more “manly” – our joint health.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, orthopaedic surgeon Barbara Begin insists that sitting like a man – or SLAM, as she calls it – can help us to avoid joint pain, and is actually much healthier for us in the long run. As it turns out, our disposition to sit with our legs crossed or together is absolutely nothing to do with our anatomy, as some people have tried to argue, but all to do with society’s expectations of what a “ladylike” posture really is.

Sitting with your legs crossed could actually be bad for your health.
Sitting with your legs crossed could actually be bad for your health.

“Developmentally, women have a wider pelvis than men,” Bergin explains. This means, apparently, that the femur or thighbone rotates from the hip joint so that our knees line up inside the hips, resulting in a knock-kneed stance. This is only worsened when we sit with our legs crossed or pressed together.

“Observe men: they’re usually sitting with their legs slightly apart and pressed slightly outward,” Bergin continues. “A lot of my patients will say ‘oh, you want me to manspread’. That’s too far the other way. We want [your legs at] about 11 and 1 o’clock.”

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Sitting with our legs spread slightly apart, instead of awkwardly pushing them closed together, is actually the best position we can take for our health, especially because women’s bodies are already pre-disposed to a “knock-kneed” stance. 

So next time you catch yourself sat with your legs crossed, take a moment to think about why exactly you’ve adopted that position. Spreading our legs is actually the healthiest thing we can do – so tell that to the next person who calls you out for being “unladylike”. 

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Lauren Geall

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