If you are not as hip as Hillary Clinton, then you may have been slightly confused by her claim on CBS's “Late Show” on Tuesday night that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a habit of “manspreading” when she would meet with him during her tenure as secretary of state.
Manwhating? Clinton didn't provide a definition, and her demonstration wasn't quite accurate (probably because she was trying to be somewhat tasteful).
So, please allow me to mansplain manspreading to you. (If you don't know what mansplaining is, then you are not even as hip as Merriam-Webster.)
Manspreading does not involve splaying one's arms, as Clinton did when talking to Stephen Colbert; a manspreading man splays his legs, while seated, to occupy as much space as possible and draw attention to his, uh, manhood.
Here's the top definition of manspreading in the indispensable Urban Dictionary, submitted by a user who goes by “mugoloo”:
A term used by Third-Wave Feminists to describe men who spread their legs — particularly on subway trains — to make room for their genitalia. However, when women set large purses and shopping bags next to them and take up another seat, it goes unnoticed and is generally dismissed because men are disgusting pigs and penises are bad!
That's a little bit hurtful, mugoloo.
For the record, Clinton showed she does know that manspreading is a lower-body gesture when she elaborated on her experience with Putin, in “What Happened,” the election reflection book she released last week:
President Obama once compared Vladimir Putin to a “bored kid at the back of the classroom.” “He's got that kind of slouch,” Obama said. When I sat with Putin in meetings, he looked more like one of those guys on the subway who imperiously spreads their legs wide, encroaching on everyone else's space, as if to say, “I take what I want” and “I have so little respect for you that I'm going to act as if I'm at home lounging in my bathrobe.” They call it “manspreading.” That was Putin.
When you think about it, manspreading helps explain two radically divergent views of the way Clinton has handled her election defeat. She writes in “What Happened” that sexism contributed to her loss, but critics at right-leaning publications such as the National Review, the Washington Examiner and the New York Post reject her premise and say that she is just making excuses and looking for discrimination where none exists.
Similarly, some men say the term manspreading is an invention of feminists with persecution complexes, and claim that the act is not an attempt to strike a dominant posture but rather an innocent effort to stay comfortable.
Here's an alternative definition in the Urban Dictionary, supplied by “Meninistsagainstfeminists”:
Another way for women to start a big issue with men.
Of course, it is hard to dismiss manspreading as an imaginary aggression when it is accompanied by an overt display of sexism — as in Putin's case. Clinton told Colbert about one meeting with Putin in which the Russian leader pointed to a large map and “started telling me he's going here to tag polar bears.”
“And then he says to me, 'Would your husband like to come?' ” Clinton recalled.
What Putin's legs said with subtlety, his mouth said explicitly.