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#14: Woman spread: an NYC subway social experiment

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Hop onto any subway car in NYC during rush hour and you'll be confronted with the inevitable: a legs-akimbo man taking up space with his package in the amount of room that two grown adults could fit. We're talking Man Spread. As a social experiment, I decided it was time to see what would happen if I attempted such an audacious move. So I did what any self-respecting female native-New Yorker would do: I grew a pair. Okay, not literally. I mean, I don't have an extra Y chromosome or anything awesome like that. But donning my shortest skirt, I hit the F train from end to end, determined to see what would happen if I sat like I had a pair of dangling melon-sized testicles. Here, the results of my woman spreading experiment:

From a kindly older woman "Dear, you're showing. Some things are better left to the imagination." Oh, the shame. I moved to another car.

From a bro: "Hey, I like your style. What's your name?" He sat down next to me and proceeded to tell me that he was on his way to visit his mentally unstable, recovering drug-addict brother. Keeper! I nodded politely and got off at the next stop. Yes, this really happened.

From a backpack-wearing tourist family: "We go to Times Square?" Oh, you mean the center of the city, it's right here in my pants. BOOM! Okay, I didn't say that. They seem unfazed as I told them to get off at Bryant Park and walk a block towards the flashing lights.

From a professional mid-30s female: Complete silence and visible disapproval. From a very visibly pregnant woman: "Excuse me, would you please move over a little." She plopped down, poor thing and I apologized profusely then told her about my little experiment. A saucy little thing, she told me that if I had been a man, she'd have asked to sit on my lap since there was no other place for a pregnant woman to sit. Note to future city-dwelling pregnant self.

In the end, I found that my proverbial testicles were shrunken by fear (the bro), shame (the elderly woman) and politeness (the pregnant lady). My woman spreading days are over but I'll be sure to remember the lessons I learned when facing my next man spread situation, likely tomorrow.

Alessandra Bulow is a native-New Yorker (Upper West SIIIIIIIDE!), Food & Travel writer, former editor at Food & Wine and Epicurious, and will do anything to get a good story, including leaving a bartending tip for the billionaire Olsen Twins.

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