New York City is becoming (in)famous for no’s. No smoking, no bake sales, no salt, no French fries, no large sodas, no butter in schools, no non-girly toy guns. And now we can add a new no-no to the list:
This refers to the habit some men have of sitting with their legs splayed out on city subways. And now the Metropolitan Transit Authority is launching a PSA shaming campaign — funded with tax money — to try to eliminate this widening problem.
This effort is accompanied by the usual leftist-values-laden, politically correct indignation. Writing at Time magazine on Wednesday, Brian Moylan opens with an obligatory misandrist line about how there “are lots of things that men do that are crazy” before calling man-spreading “the most visual manifestation of patriarchal privilege” and opining that this “is why it is especially angering.” Yes, as someone raised in NYC, I’m quite sure the average working stiff — or welfare stiff, more likely — who hasn’t seen an issue of Time in 10 years (a small blessing) and missed the women’s studies class at CUNY (mostly because he missed college) thinks, “That patriarchal privilege again!”
Continuing with the feminist theme, Moylan writes that man-spreading “says to everyone, ‘I find this comfortable and I am a man so my comfort comes before all else in this entire universe and especially you.’ That’s why people hate this. It’s because men are saying that they don’t care about anyone else, and that is awful. They think that it is somehow manly, by claiming their territory.”
Or maybe they’re not really thinking about it and are just doing what feels right? Is that possible?
The PSA effort’s anti-male flavor did not escape American Thinker’s Drew Belsky. Mentioning how on Twitter, “feminist Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti (of free tampons fame) can't wait for the ‘shaming campaign’ to begin,” he opined, “Tell a woman to keep her legs closed, and you get a Slut Walk marching through your town. Tell a man to keep his legs closed, and you're now a feminist hero in New York.”
By the way, the tampon issue Belsky references is apparently a new front in the War on Women. Whereas Sandra Fluke gave a face to the movement for taxpayer-funded contraception, Valenti believes it’s outrageous that women have to pay for tampons because, as she puts it, “menstrual care is health care.” Now there’s Hillary’s 2016 campaign issue.
Getting back to double standards, Belsky alludes to how calls for female modesty are now unfashionable and writes, “So calling out a style of dress that makes you uncomfortable unacceptably denigrates a woman's ‘presentation,’ but government programs to ‘shame’ men who sit a certain way are A-OK. Slut-shaming: bad. Sit-shaming: good.”
In truth, “man-spreading” really is a male phenomenon and some fellows could exercise more consideration. But both sexes have their quirks. For example, women tend to take far longer in restrooms than do men, a fact explaining the lines that sometimes form outside women’s bathrooms. NYC’s response to this was not a PSA program to hurry the ladies up, but to pass a “potty parity bill” in 2005 mandating that “new buildings and renovated ones that are meant to accommodate [sic] more than 150 people will need to have twice as many bathroom stalls for women than men,” wrote the Gothamist at the time. As yet, however, no one has proposed installing wider seats on city subways to accommodate men’s wont.
But if you think Moylan’s inveighing against “manly” moves and “patriarchal privilege” is a bit much, imagine what he might be disgorging were his name Moylansson. Just consider the following gem from an old John Leo column entitled “You can't make this up”:
Young women in Sweden, Germany, and Australia have a new cause: They want men to sit down while urinating. This demand comes partly from concerns about hygiene — avoiding the splash factor — but, as Jasper Gerard reports in the English Spectator, "more crucially because a man standing up to urinate is deemed to be triumphing in his masculinity, and by extension, degrading women." One argument is that if women can't do it, then men shouldn't either. Another is that standing upright while relieving oneself is "a nasty macho gesture," suggestive of male violence. A feminist group at Stockholm University is campaigning to ban all urinals from campus, and one Swedish elementary school has already removed them.… Some Swedish women are pressuring their men to take a stand, so to speak. Yola, a 25-year-old Swedish trainee psychiatrist, says she dumps boyfriends who insist on standing. "What else can I do?" said her new boyfriend, Ingvar, who sits.
So now he can sit. But can he roll over and fetch, too?
Tolerating nonsense about macho gestures “suggestive of male violence” is quite taxing, and this brings us to the “Man Tax,” designed to compensate society for the cost of “male violence.” Really, truly, such a thing was once proposed. This was in Sweden again, where the former leader of the nation’s Left Party said in 2004, “We have to have a discussion so that men understand that they have a collective financial responsibility.” And I’m on board. Really, truly — with one stipulation.
That men also receive royalties for all the inventions, innovations, and scholarship they birthed throughout the ages. You can send me a check, ladies, which I’ll use to pay off my Man Tax. And don’t worry about man-spreading — I expect to have more than enough left over so that I won’t have to take the subway.