”The encroaching of women’s space is part of a larger problem. This might be discrimination on a smaller scale but it is just as important because it is a problem which women face every day,” 26-year-old blog founder My Vingren told The Local.
The blog Macho on Public Transport (Macho i Kollektivtrafiken) was launched after a Facebook page with the same name had to be closed down due to the many anti-feminist and racist comments.
Vingren told The Local how she first started reacting to men taking up more than their allotted space on tubes and buses.
”I first noticed this ridiculous behaviour and reacted to it but when I asked my friends they hadn’t really noticed until I brought it up,” Vingren said.
After deciding that this was a discussion worth giving some attention, Vingren started a Facebook group on the subject. Within two weeks the group had received 500 likes.
But soon after, the more active members of the group started receiving threats and having sexist and racist comments hurled at them online.
When the page was closed down, Vingren started the blog as the reactions made the group more aware than ever that this was a discussion that needed an outlet.
”Macho on Public Transport is not about etiquette. It is not about manners. It is about the supply of space. We dedicate this blog to all the girls and women who have gotten used to squeezing up to avoid having strange men’s thighs pressed to theirs,” the website reads.
The majority of excuses men use for their need to take up space are anatomical, according to Vingren. The need to relax their thighs is a favourite, as is the fear of getting sterile or sweating in areas they prefer keeping cool.
”We are a declaration of war against all macho men who think that their need to relax their thigh muscles or, heaven forbid, their unwillingness to deal with scrotum sweat is more important than women’s right to a personal sphere and equal share of space,” it says on the site.
Many men also say that they are not the only ones, that women take up space as well, by placing their bag next to them on the seat. Vingren is not sure she agrees with this claim.
”But if that is the case, it’s in itself an interesting reaction, as it would imply that the only way for women to take up space is to erect a wall between themselves and the person taking up space next to them,” she said.
According to Vingren, the blog has received mixed responses. Among those criticizing the venture the majority are men, but a few women have also given them negative feedback.
”However, many are very positive about what we do,” she said.
According to Vingren, she hopes that the outcome of the project is that men will be more aware about how much space they take up and respect their fellow passengers, regardless of sex.
”I don’t want to tell people how they should sit on public transport, but I think it is up to each and everyone to be aware of how much of someone else’s space they take up,” Vingren told The Local.