Males who “manspread” while jogging are selfishly violating social distancing guidelines, says a writer for a mainstream publication.

In a recent UK Independent life & style editorial, Helen Coffey writes, “Manspreading has crossed over to the realm of running, and it’s not OK.”

“Taking up space in the world seems hardwired for men – but right now, it reeks of selfishness,” writes Coffey.

Coffey says lately while jogging she’s noticed herself innately adhering to social distancing guidelines, attempting to take up as little space as possible on trails, pausing for bikes and literally holding her breath when others pass by.

But while Coffey says female joggers all seem to exhibit the same neurosis, men – with their “wide-legged stances” – do not seem to reciprocate the gesture.

They choose to plant themselves, instead, in the middle of the path, arms and legs pumping, striding flat out. They make no allowances, no exceptions, seemingly unaware that the person they’re approaching is doing a frantic parody of a Viennese Waltz to try to adhere to the, under such circumstances, impossible 2m rule. It’s no concern of theirs. They’ve picked their lane and they’re going to stick to it, thanks very much. Wide-legged stances and an unwavering trajectory, as if following invisible tramlines, send the clear message: “This space is mine. I dominate. Better give me some room, love.” All others must leap out of the way, grateful for the small toehold they’ve been granted.

While in the past Coffey says she’d have been more forgiving of this type of behavior, she feels it’s now “borderline dangerous” and men should be more considerate in light of the current coronavirus scare.

It feels selfish. It feels scary. It feels borderline dangerous. As they pass, limbs moving like pistons, chugging forcefully out through the mouth like an unstoppable steam engine, I think about how I would feel if I lived with someone vulnerable or was vulnerable myself. I think about the courage it would take to get outside, and the fear I would experience every time I stepped out of my front door – fear that I could catch the virus and take it home. And I think about the menace I would feel if a 6ft sprinter was bearing down on me, making no concessions to social distancing, no effort to slow down, his audible “CHUH” of exhalation triggering a surge of panic as his spittle flew towards me through the air.

Following the editorial, cartoon artist George Alexopoulos created a comic illustrating the absurdness of Coffey’s anecdote.

Coffey concludes by asking men to acknowledge their “unconscious” urge to “fill as much physical space as possible,” and asks them to “think before you spread.”

“Maybe all you need to do to change that dynamic is to become aware of how you’re wired; maybe all you need to do is acknowledge and fight that urge to expand.”

Maybe just find a different place to jog?

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