To identify issues of sexism pertaining to the act of sitting experienced by women I explored various internet platforms, one of which being ‘The Everyday Sexism Project.’ This website set up by feminist and writer Laura Bates in 2012 enables women around the world to anonymously share their personal experiences of sexism.
This helped me to identify the phenomenon of ‘man-spreading,’ which seemed to be a problem women were experiencing all around the world. Man-spreading is defined as:
‘the practice whereby a man, especially one travelling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats.’
I decided to spend an hour riding trains on Southern Rail between Brighton and Portslade - a journey I make frequently for my commute to and from work - walking up and down the train to see if I could find any examples of men ‘man-spreading’ and encroaching onto women’s space first-hand. In such a short time I found multiple cases. One of which that particularly stood out to me was a woman having to sit sideways on her seat with her legs in the isle due to a man stretching his all the way over into her foot-well.
Having experienced this myself many times on public transport and frequently found it very frustrating, I decided this would be an interesting problem to explore. This research inspired me to create a pair seats; one for a man that encourages them to sit with their knees together, and one for a women that encourages her to sit with her legs parted. While my technical investigation is not necessarily intended to be serious or hard-hitting, I think these chairs do give a physicality to an issue women face in quite a fun yet literal way which is my overall main objective in this project.