Warning: No Manspreading

From Madrid comes a new pictorial instruction sign (not technically a “warning sign”) on public buses prohibiting “manspreading.”  I was not familiar with this term.  I thought maybe it was something like this, which I wholeheartedly agree should be banned:

But that’s not it.  It’s this:

Okay, this might be worse.  Manspreading is the practice of some men to sit with their legs spread on a bus seat, crowding people around them, particularly women, apparently.  Whether this is done to protect personal space or intentionally invade someone else’s is not clear from the article.

But as the question always arises with pictorial communicative signs, does the picture alone work to convey the intended meaning?  If you didn’t already know what manspreading was and got on a bus and saw this sign, would you know it’s saying: “Dude, don’t spread your freaking legs”?  More troubling is why people need a sign to tell them this in the first place.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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