The Brief: An artist's concept piece about manspreading has sparked significant backlash online from upset men.


What Is Manspreading?

Manspreading is a term for when a man takes up an unnecessary amount of space in public, often making it so people near him have significantly less space. The term usually refers to manspreading that occurs on public transportation.

Anti-Manspreading Chair Wins Award

Laila Laurel, an art and design student at the University of Brighton in the UK recently won an award: the Belmond Award from New Designers in London for her chair designed to prevent manspreading. The idea behind this project: “A Solution To Man-Spreading” is that the anti-manspreading chair would force men to sit with their legs together and its counterpart designed for women would allow them to experience spreading out.

Inspired by The Everyday Sexism Project, Laila Laurel’s chair designs explore the concept of manspreading and the role design can play in how people occupy spaces. In her artist statement, Laurel specifically notes that the project is not meant as a completely serious design to be implemented IRL:

“While my technical investigation is not necessarily intended to be serious or hard-hitting, I think these chairs do give a physicality to an issue women face in quite a fun yet literal way which is my overall main objective in this project.”

Since several articles have been published about Laurel’s design, she has faced significant backlash online: in the form of both public posts and private messages. Much of this trolling and outcry comes from men who see this project as an attack on their entire gender.

Twitter Reacts

While some comments merely express disagreement with the concept, many go much further, calling the designer a “man-hating feminist” and worse.

Many tweets seem to ignore the fact that this chair is a conceptual project, a commentary about manspreading, rather than a piece of furniture to be manufactured and sold. As with many angry internet commenters, it seems that few have actually read beyond these articles’ headlines before sharing their opinions and hate.

Some men have taken this as an opportunity to defend manspreading, explaining that their anatomy makes it so they must sit with their legs spread out, thus taking up more space than women do.

Other men have argued that the amount of space that women sometimes take up by putting their bag next to them is an unfair form of “womanspreading.”

Reddit Memes

One popular location of such negative is the Dank Memes subreddit, where memes poke fun at the concept and more seriously drag and attack it. Many of these memes frame feminism of an attack on men.

Not cutting homeless people in half memes this time
byu/iamnotadumbster indankmemes

A man vs. woman microphone meme:

Bad chair is bad
byu/Dough_boi77 indankmemes

A “ducking under a flyer” meme from The Regular Show:

[deleted by user]
by indankmemes