1918 PSA Proves Manspreading Has Been An Issue For Nearly 100 Years

Men: taking up too much space for literally decades.

Reality check, ladies: the dreaded manspread is not a new phenomenon. It's apparently been ruining innocent commuters' train rides for a really, really long time. (The fantastic Tumblr memes, though, are relatively a new thing._

In fact, a 1918 cartoon and entry in The Elevated News, a Chicago-based transportation pamphlet, shows that manspreading has always been really annoying

A 1918 cartoon from The Elevated Times, 20th century Chicago-based publication. 
A 1918 cartoon from The Elevated Times, 20th century Chicago-based publication. 

The pamphlet circulated throughout the Chicago subway system, and in this particular issue, it was argued that the seat deprivation caused by manspreading is completely unacceptable, especially considering that men will make much greater sacrifices in the name of patriotic pride:

Men will give their sons to the service of their country, they will give to the Red Cross and buy Liberty Bonds until they feel it pinch, but will they disturb themselves and sit a little closer to give a seat to some poor tired girl? They sit there complacently, occupying twice the space they really require, while some other passenger is deprived of a seat through their selfishness.

And while the cartoon in The Elevated Times might highlight the early adopters of the anti-manspread campaign, it certainly isn't the only one. A 1953 ad from the Subway Sun courtesy campaign encouraged commuters in New York City not to be a "space hog" -- or what we in 2016 now call a manspreader. And it's not just an issue in metropolitan American cities: commuters on the London Underground have expressed a huge interest in banning the practice, and as recently as 1976, Tokyo subway system etiquette campaigns have more or less associated manspreading with Hitler. In 2014, New York City's MTA debuted a clever courtesy campaign to much fanfare. 

MTA signage reminding men to close their legs. 
MTA signage reminding men to close their legs. 

All arguments aside, there really is no excuse for it, no matter the environment in which it occurs. 

So, gentlemen, listen up, because the 1918 lesson still applies: there are sacrifices far greater than closing your legs a smidge to make space for a fellow commuter.

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