Now, I'm sure some men of color and even women engage in manspreading, but even if they do, its still a manifestation of white supremacy and patriarchy. Why? Because the philosophy behind it is about power. It's about asserting individual rights to dominate space. Its an ideology that can be traced to the same Manifest Destiny philosophies that drove colonialism and domination of the societies and cultures that created the capitalist system that dominates the world today. Its an extremely unhumanistic approach that is selfish and highly egotistical.
Manspreaders want to force you to become uncomfortable by their aggressive assault on your right to space. Whether its taking up more than one seat or refusing to move on the sidewalk, its the same philosophy at work. I would suggest that manspreading has probably intensified in recent years as White men continue to advance the notion that they are oppressed. They are asserting that they are losing their rights and that they must urgently stop the tide of oppression being instituted against them. Of course, the only real oppression being aimed at White men is the capitalist oppression that attacks the entire planet. The capitalist system has convinced far too many White men that they are supposed to be millionaires were it not for the people of color and women who are preventing them from achieving their justified throne on top of the world. So, for this element of confused European men, manspreading is their cowardly method of enforcing their rights to what they perceive is being taken away from them. By them taking up this space, they are sending the rest of us the message that we don't belong here. That is the reason that even women and men of color who foolishly imitate this tactic are only advancing white supremacy and patriarchy because very few of us will ever achieve the level of privilege required to feel like you belong and others don't. Also, the system of colonialism has eliminated our ability to see the world as all about us. Any trip to Africa confirms this. Most people don't have cars and/or their own houses there so the concept of personal space is pretty much nonexistent. Just to catch public transportation anywhere in Africa requires an understanding that you will be shoulder to shoulder with people as a rule. And, if you catch a long distance bus, unlike the U.S., your purchase of a ticket doesn't mean you will leave at a certain time. Instead, you will realize that the bus isn't leaving until it fills up, however long that takes. So, the conditions that create entitlement don't really exist in Africa as well as the fact the individualistic culture isn't nearly as institutionalized there as here (although the imperialists are working overtime to change this). If you compare the existence of people of color to European people, particularly men, white supremacy makes it clear to us everyday that we don't belong. Like two weeks ago when a car full of people of color were traveling in Central Oregon where very few people of color exist. We were pulled over by a state trooper who didn't even hesitate to start questioning us about who we were, where we were going, etc. By remote control consistency, we know we don't belong here. In fact, our existence for the last 500+ years has been one of fighting for our right to exist with respect and peace in this society so without that entitlement, if we manspread, its simply our dysfunctional method of imitating what we perceive to be White men's assertion of power. And, its equally true that even when European men do it, they are imitating what they perceive as power within the capitalist system.
The truth is none of us who as working people, whether European, African, Indigenous, Asian, etc., have power in this society. There is only the illusion of power and that illusion really only works within White communities, especially with White men. So, they are the dominant manspreaders. The question for the rest of us who oppose this reactionary behavior, especially revolutionary and progressive men, is what are the most productive ways to challenge manspreading whenever we encounter it. My personal method has been to individually assert rights on behalf of myself and others when I see it. On a number of occasions, I've told manspreaders to move for me and/or other people. I admit that my asking isn't usually done in a patient and/or welcoming way. Also, if they are slow to react, I have no problem helping them move, usually without their cooperation. I realize this is not the most productive way to address this problem and that most people aren't going to be able to take my aggressive approach anyway. So, I'm writing this because we need to think of better ways to interrupt this type of thing because doing so interrupts the ideologies of white supremacy and patriarchy that practices like manspreading are based upon. What would be great is if we could use manspreading and develop methodologies to interrupt it that educate the persons practicing it with the reasons why they are engaging in behavior that betrays their class interests and those of humanity. It would be great if as many of them as possible could be led to understand that true manhood would require them to organize and confront the real sources of oppression, the ruling classes, instead of taking passive aggressive action against people in the same boat they are in. I'm thinking of street theater on a sidewalk where large crowds will offer many opportunities for manspreading and/or on public transportation, planes, public events, etc. Let's get to work! Any ideas?