No, Manspreading is Not a Thing So Leave Paul Giamatti Alone

In general, our pals at Gothamist are doing the Lord’s work when it comes to pointing out the things that make living in New York City an existential circus.

But this obsession with “manspreading” on the site (not to mention the MTA’s current courtesy campaign) is getting out of hand. How insane has it gotten?


RELATED: Paul Giamatti’s 10 Memorable Supporting Roles

Yes, Brooklyn Heights neighbor and super-fantastic actor Paul Giamatti is being shamed for making himself comfortable on a number 4 train this morning.

Stop the madness!

Photo via Gothamist

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  • Sally

    Manspreading is real. I love Paul Giamatti, and this is hardly a caes of it. Manspreading only takes place on a CROWDED subway.

  • Jorale-man

    Yeah, this is not a textbook case of manspreading by a long shot. Context is everything too: was the car crowded or was he alone?

    I’d like to see Gothamist instead go after those people who insist on blocking the doors when passengers are trying to enter and exit the train. They contribute to delays and generally make the entry/exit process unpleasant when they could just as easily step out of the way.

  • miriamcb

    Man-spreading is definitely a thing.

    But as pointed out in the Gothamist comment section, this car was hardly crowded (no people even in the reflection of the train door windows not to mention between the frame of reference and Giamatti).

  • George

    Taking someone’s picture without them knowing it should be an offense.

  • TeddyNYC

    Yeah, some people definitely have recording boundary issues.

  • jv

    AGREE 100%

  • jv

    Yes, Manspreading IS real!!!!! Only a man would say it isn’t.

  • Naomi Weinberger

    I agree with all the commenters. Time for a retraction. Paul is fine here. Many are not.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    That’s getting into murky territory. I think it depends what you do with the photo. Here, Gothamist is clearly tiptoeing up to the line of slandering Giamatti and if the publication had any pull in the picture biz he’d have grounds for a lawsuit.

    On the other end of the spectrum you have Walker Evans’ and Stanley Kubrick’s candid photos of subway riders, to name a few examples of definitely NON-offensive instances of “taking someone’s picture without them knowing it”, in this case for artistic purposes. There’s an artist right here in Brooklyn Heights who paints portraits based on candid photos he takes on the subway. I’d be happy to post links to these examples but you know how to use Google, right?

  • Cate

    Manspreading is absolutely a thing, and it’s pretty unfortunate to see a local blog so dismissive of it. I don’t think that Giamatti is doing it in this photo (note the empty bench next to him), but it’s absolutely an issue that happens on trains that are more crowded. It’s a disregard of the right to personal space of those around you on a crowded train (and, speaking as a young woman, at worst it’s an excuse to encroach on the space of the person next to you and touch them – I’ve lost count of the number of times this has very clearly been the motive). It also, in my experience, overwhelmingly is something that men do when seated next to women, but not fellow men.

    I really like this blog, but I have to say that it makes me really angry to see you just so dismissive of an issue that actually affects a lot of peoples’ commutes every day. It’s particularly unfortunate coming from a man, and with absolutely zero backup for why you think it’s “not a thing.” I really hope that you do better with your commentary in the future.

  • DIBS

    Actually, the real stupidity I see on the subway is this scenario: subway car not crowded, certainly no one crowding anyone’s ability to walk up to the door upon approach to their stop yet many people (mostly women…sorry) will sit in their seats until the train comes to a full stop and only then get up to head to the door. Yet, as the doors open and there’s no one there trying to exit, the people stream in only to have the late arriving lazy seated passenger try to exit through them. Use your heads people

  • StudioBrooklyn

    I think we can all agree that there are countless violations of decency and common sense that occur on and around public transit. (I would toss “standing on the left on the escalator” and “squeezing into a crowded elevator when you could take the stairs” into the mix.) None of us have any meaningful statistics on whether one group or another is primarily responsible for any one of these offenses but I trust anyone using this forum to air grievances is an exemplary commuter. Let’s just make sure we teach our kids better.

  • dumbfounded

    How difficult is it to ask a man politely to move his leg so you can sit down? Do you live in a dictatorship that forces you to keep your mouth shut? If he refuses, so be it.

  • Mini_Cooper

    Yes it is real and NO the pic above doesn’t count because it’s only a problem when the train is crowded. If there are seats and no one is standing, it is not an issue.

  • Mini_Cooper

    Hah… try enforcing that one. Plus it’s not illegal.

  • Remsen Street Dweller

    I often take care of this situation by “accidentally” placing my handbag partially on me and partially on the manspreader’s offending leg. They usually get the message.

  • MonroeOrange

    how is it an issue…you just sit next to the person and they will move…this was probably the most stupid public campaign the MTA ever ran.

  • MonroeOrange

    some people remain seated until the train comes to a stop bc they have trouble standing…just saying…or bc they are full of spaghetti carbonara and just are too full to move.

  • Mini_Cooper

    It is an issue. You cannot sit next to the person (and I’m skinny) because he is taking up two seats. And if you do manage to squeeze in, 9 times out of 10, he DOES NOT MOVE.

  • Mini_Cooper

    I sit until the train comes to a full stop because I am worried about falling. Do you have a problem with that?

  • MonroeOrange

    if you are going to survive in nyc, i would get used to asserting yourself…ive lived here for decades…and i think every single person that is actually from NYC would say this is not a big deal…you should have been on the subway in the 70’s and 80’s, manspreading would have been the least of your complaints…toughen up…and that is to all on here who are complaining about ‘manspreading’….seriously…i can’t even type that without laughing….issues that are of more concern on the train…putting your feet up on the seats, not taking your bag off on a crowded subway, drinking coffee and it spilling, etc..

  • Mini_Cooper

    I have lived in NYC all of my life and have ridden the subways since I was a child. Don’t presume to know anything about me. Of course it’s not a ‘big deal’. It is an annoyance that has become more prevelant recently. And I have survived here very well for the past half-century, thank you very much.

  • StudioBrooklyn

    It seems like there’s an argumentative fallacy in saying that just because there existed bigger problems in the 70s and 80s, that the problem of “manspreading” is somehow illegitimate or irrationally conceived. Perhaps a certain kind of pushy assertiveness was necessary for survival 30 or 40 years ago, but why should we treat that as a status quo for navigating New York today? Furthermore, you run the risk of implicitly trying to rationalize this rude behavior. Why can’t people (mostly men) just sit with their knees at a reasonable width?

  • since64

    that is how you get shot. or harassed. or punched. don’t listen to anyone who tells you to be aggressive or ask them to move. On the train, keep to yourself, open your magazine or book, and don’t catch anyone’s eye. And certainly don’t assert yourself. Not worth it.

  • ShinyNewHandle

    Never mind the pic, which is of a man deep in a book. Sometimes men don’t keep their knees together because it takes an active tightening of the muscles, equivalent to a yoga pose, to do it. It can actually be uncomfortable. Twenty years ago when I walked a great deal, those leg muscles just didn’t want to go together, and even crossing my legs wasn’t something I wanted to do for more than a few minutes.

  • lauren

    Especially for those of us who are petite, asserting ourselves in this situation brings an inherent sense of unease. It can be uncomfortable to ask a man who is literally 2 or 3 times my size to move when his body language is already in a defensive position. That said, I have done it. The bigger issue is about how certain individuals or groups feel entitled to use shared public spaces in a way that does not take others into account.

  • miriamcb

    I also usually wait until the train is at a stop, especially if I have my daughter attached to my back in a backpack. Balance issues on the stop can be tricky depending on the subway driver! And we all have been on a subway with a stop and jerk kind of driver…

  • Jorale-man

    Totally agree. There was that incident with the gun-toting corrections officer last week apparently taking his anger out on the other passenger at Borough Hall for some perceived slight. Keep your eyes down in your reading material and avoid conflict at all cost.

  • Guest

    Couldn’t agree more, MonroeOrange. If the guy sees you standing there
    and doesn’t move his leg, do NOT speak to him. This is City Survival
    101. Of course, I have no doubt that Mr. Giamatti WOULD move his leg
    without being asked.

  • Nancy Stone

    Couldn’t agree more, since64. If the guy sees you standing there
    and doesn’t move his leg, do NOT speak to him. This is City Survival
    101. Of course, I have no doubt that Mr. Giamatti WOULD move his leg
    without being asked.