Sexy Manspreading: Don’t Fight The Feeling

Manspreading is the key to the hearts of women everywhere—at least, that’s the conclusion of a recent Atlantic article, “When Manspreading is Sexy.” It’s based on the findings of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found that men who sat in “expansive postures” got better reactions in speed dating than those who adopted a “closed posture”; these “expansive postures” are listed as “wide-spread limbs and a stretched out torso.” Participants in the 144-date study found such body language more attractive than even smiling or laughing. It would seem that showing off your, ahem, assets via physical presentation is a more surefire way of attracting women than the conventional Funny Jokes, Giant Wads of Money, or Ending Every Sentence with “Ladies” To Show You Know Your Audience.

I have a few questions about this study—for starters, the inclusion of the term “manspreading,” while certainly helpful from an SEO perspective, is dubious since the men could fulfill an “expansive” posture with wide-open arms (what, you don’t go speed dating for the free hugs? NEITHER DO I! MOVING ON), a Vaudeville tap routine, or a circus ringman-style chest-puffing-up thing, all of which would display both confidence and an implication of talent. Furthermore, even if manspreading was more attractive in a speed-dating scenario, that doesn’t make it more attractive when you’re trying to grab a seat on a packed Red Line car.

This study did open my mind to one revelation: I had no idea men were doing this for our benefit. In an effort to open my mind even further to the potential romantic bliss of a manspreading mate, I looked to nature for examples of male expansion that might shed light on our evolutionary destiny. I was able to identify five common manspreads so that we females can recognize them in the wild. Perhaps they offer clues to the haunting question: What have we been missing?


  1. The “Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair”

Bird mating dance

Manspreading with smirky face


  1. The “If You Can’t Handle Me At My Worst”

Bird mating spread with ridiculous breast-like puffs
Manspread with holes in crotch of jeans


  1. The “Most Women Love This About Me”

Bird puffing chest while female side-eyes
Manspread with annoyed women

  1. The “It’s Leg Day”

Bird mating dance with skinny legs

Manspread with fitness speedo

  1. The “Just Wait Till I Start Talking”

Super into itself bird puffing chest

Douchey looking kid manspreading


Bird images, from top to bottom: GeekyDumpAnimallistBureau of Land Management; National Wildlife FoundationNational Geographic Traveler

Julia Burke

Julia is a wine educator with an interest in labor and politics in the wine industry. She has also written about fitness and exercise science, mental health, beer, and a variety of other topics for Skepchick. She has been known to drink Amaro Montenegro with PB&J.

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  1. Reminds me of that totally stupid idea of the designated “love/date” car they thought would be a good idea for our metro trains. No one ever made use of it…

  2. Honestly, if anything, it has more to do with the fact that we have a penis and testes than anything. Shouldn’t that be blindingly obvious? Or just blinding?

  3. Yeah. Kind of didn’t think of this as “trying to attract a mate”, so much as, “The other way is less bloody comfortable.” And, we do a lot of damn stupid BS already, (both sexes) that is uncomfortable, because its “expected”. That said, there is a difference between having your legs a bit apart and taking up three freaking seats with your legs….

    Think they may be talking about a bit less “spread” with their study, frankly. lol Sort of like how, “People tend to react better to those who dance with there arms over there heads, instead of always at their sides.”, doesn’t mean you spend all night looking like a chimp, waddling around the room with its arms up in the arm. :p

    Did they… maybe not comprehend what the word means in the context everyone else uses it?

    1. Just in case it wasn’t clear, this is satire. I’m making fun of the Atlantic’s trying to make “sexy manspreading” happen.

  4. Hmm. See, the problem with this sort of satire is… there are idiots actually doing these kinds of “studies”. lol

  5. Thank you for this informative post. I’ve obviously been doing it wrong all these years. I kind of thought the goal on a crowded subway train was to maximize the number of people who could fit (and especially sit down) by shrinking into the smallest space possible, totally neglecting the chance to display my manly girth and impress the ladies (see particularly the third set of photos.) Those ladies, both avian and human, look totally in awe, amirite ladies?

    P.S. Why am I thinking of puffer fish and Donald Trump?

  6. Plea: Please tell me that the human picture in #3 is staged. I just really need to believe that.

    At least #4 has graciously sat between two seats, so he takes up 2, instead of 3, like some of the other assholes………..

    Dear guys: Yes, we all like to spread our legs apart, it is more comfortable, but just don’t do it if the vehicle is at all crowded.

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