Are Men Really Urban Monsters?

1024px-Times_Square_0210Last month The New York Times ran a story with photos of men caught “manspreading.” Manspreading is defined as man who sits on a public bus, subway or park bench with his legs splayed open. Some men who do this take two seats on crowded public transportation. The Times said, “It is the bane of many female subway riders. It is a scourge tracked on blogs and on Twitter.”

There is also “mansplaining,” a term UrbanDictionary.com defines as: “delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation.”

Now TheAtlantic.com tells us about “manslamming,” a term coined to describe men who don’t step out of other peoples’ way (especially women) on crowded sidewalks.

Some call these actions “microagressions,” a form of unintended discrimination that has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination—in this case, men discriminating against women in what they might soon call: “managressions.”

Perhaps the most heinous microaggression (though it could also be outright aggression) are men who call women “bossy.” This would be a “microagression” if the man doesn’t think too deeply (being a man) about how aggressive a woman might perceive this label, but it would be clear aggression if he did.

Hmm, are the people coining and using these new words tacitly agreeing to the premise that some large percentage of men are guilty of talking down to women, shoving women out of the way on sidewalks, demeaning women by calling them “bossy” and refusing to give women space on crowded public transportation? Might this same logic then lead people to surmise that, by comparison, women much less often spread out over two seats on a bus or subway (or put their bags on the seat next to them), talk down to men (don’t these new words talk down to men?) and commit other microaggressive acts?

Click here for the rest of my column at Forbes.com.