"Manspreading" as a topic of discourse reached its peak circa early 2015, when feminist blogs tackled the problem of dudes who spread their legs out to a dual-purpose wide V shape on public transportation so that everyone can see what they're working with there and also to take up as much space as possible with zero regard for other commuters. In case it seemed that "manspreading" was a phenomenon that reared its ugly head on the buses and trains of the United States, it turns out that it's an international issue that the city of Madrid has addressed directly with a ban.
Next to the "No Smoking" and "No Littering" signs on public buses, the city of Madrid has placed a cartoon drawing of a person spreading their legs on a bus seat with an X on it, a move spurred by the women's rights group Mujeres en Lucha, which launched the campaign #MadridSinManspreading (Madrid Without Manspreading), according to CNN.
"This new icon's mission is to remind people of the need to keep a civil behavior and respect the space of everyone on the bus," the Madrid Municipal Transport Company said, CNN reported.
The act of taking up more space than necessary without regard for fellow passengers has been deemed a pillar of male privilege, and it has been deconstructed at length across the internet. And certainly, while women are physically capable of being as selfish with their space as men, they haven't engaged in that behavior enough as a group to be called out for it.
A few years ago the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York City posted several public service announcements discouraging passengers from engaging in selfish, annoying, and/or disgusting behavior on public transportation, including clipping nails, eating stinking food, pole dancing, and manspreading. At the time, some men took enough issue with the cartoon depiction of manspreading, suggesting that it was sexist to encourage them not to do so, that they wrote angry letters to the MTA, according to Bust.
To be fair, if it were the skirt-clad silhouette used to denote women's restrooms, then technically, she would not only be "spreading" but flashing a la Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and that opens an entirely new can of worms.
Perhaps other cities will follow Madrid's lead and encourage men to keep their knees together to make room for other people, but for now it's merely a public nuisance that Americans combat with Tumblr blogs of obnoxious men engaged in the behavior.