Itís not easy keeping track of whatís trending in the world. In fact, even keeping a shallow pulse on all the social phenomena out there could easily be a full-time job. But I try my best. Occasionally, though, stuff gets by me ó stuff thatís maybe been out in the mainstream for a while, but just hasnít made it onto my News Feed or general radar.

Manspreading is one of those things.

I know, just the word itself sounds totally ridiculous and more or less made up. But I promise you, itís a thing ó a very real, very worldwide issue thatís getting a lot of attention from both women and men everywhere. And, in a few select places in the world, itís actually banned. But weíll get to those places in a sec.

Right now, you need to be educated on what manspreading is, if you donít already know. According to the Macmillan Dictionary definition, manspreading is when a man sits on public transport with his legs spread wide in order to take up as much space as possible and prevent others from sitting next to him. No, seriously, thatís what it says.

Now, how something this goofy, yet totally serious, managed to slip by me all this time, I donít know. And more upsetting is how it ended up in an actual dictionary, with an actual definition, totally under my nose. But it did. And while it makes me question my credentials as an English major, it also reaffirms the reality that we live in a humongous world, with lots of moving parts, and I donít know nearly as much as I like to think I do.

The truth is, Iíd never even heard the term until my 20-year-old daughter playfully accused my father-in-law of committing the act in the car last week. (Which, for the record, made everyone in the car, including my in-laws, wet their pants.) But now that I know itís an actual thing, Iím reading everything I can find about it online. And Iím doing that not to weigh in on one side or the other, but more just to try and understand how society has evolved to the point where manspreading exists.

Hereís what Iíve discovered: Since last Thursday, manspreading is now banned on buses in Madrid. According to the Irish News website,, thousands of stickers have been put on busses all over the city to ďdissuade passengers from opening their legs.Ē And the crazy thing is, itís not just relegated to Spain. After doing a deep dive into how the issue is trending around the world, Iíve also learned that, back in 2014, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority rolled out an anti-manspreading campaign in the city subway system, with posters that read, ďDude... Stop The Spread, Please.Ē Itís a space issue. And the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia launched their own campaign against manspreading called, ďDude Itís Rude.Ē Oh, and in 2015, the Sound Transit in Seattle rolled out a similar movement, posting that passengers have ďone body, one seat.Ē And apparently, according to The New York Times, Japan and Australia are also drinking the Kool-Aid and spearheading campaigns of their own.

Now I honestly donít know where I weigh in on the issue just yet, mainly because itís just too new to me to have a real opinion. But, I will agree that, as women, weíve all been taught, from a very young age, to cross our legs and be ladylike, whatever that means nowadays. While guys, on the other hand (and to the best of my knowledge), have never been schooled on how to sit. And a New York Post article I found cited a 2016 study by New Yorkís Hunter College that revealed that more than 26 percent of men comfortably separated their legs ó or manspread ó in their seats, compared to less than 5 percent of women. Hmmmmm. Telling.

Look, I get it, men are anatomically bigger, in most cases, than women; so some guys may need a little more room to spread out. Plus, you boys have some ďattributesĒ that make it sorta challenging to fully cross your legs and still be comfortable. Duly noted. But I mean, come on, thereís a huge difference between keeping your legs uncrossed in your own personal space and splaying out and encroaching on everyoneís space around you. Because encroaching is absolutely not ok. And I donít care if youíre a man or a woman, thereís no excuse to infringe on someone elseís spot when you have a perfectly good spot of your own.

Now itís called manspreading for a reason. And thatís because the majority of the offenders are guys. But to me, the whole thing just seems like a gigantic respect issue.

I mean, if youíre in a seat on a train or a bus, thatís your seat. And the woman or man sitting next to you temporarily owns their seat. Itís just common courtesy. Possession is 9/10ths and all that. So as far as Iím concerned, sit in your seat any way you want. Sit on your head if thatís how you roll. But do not spread your entire thigh and/or butt cheek onto the seat next to you. Because thatís not your seat. It belongs to someone else. And violating someone elseís personal space, well, thatís just rude.

So in the interest of being bipartisan and trying to figure out a solution that works for everybody, why donít we all just cross our legs at the ankles, fold our hands in our laps, and pay a little more attention to spatial relations? That sounds reasonable, right? Because even though the world seems like itís getting smaller and smaller since there are so damn many of us, Iím confident thereís still enough room for everybody to fit. In theory anyway.

ó Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at Or, find them on, Hot Moms Club,,, Mamalode, More Content Now, and She is also the author of ďLIFE: It Is What It IsĒ and ďUntying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots--And How to Get FreeĒ available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble.