I've read in multiple places that two men have been arrested in New York for "manspreading", sitting on the subway with legs spreading.

It seems quite unbelievable. First of all, I don't think people are arrested for travelling without a ticket, which surely must be a worst offence than occupying more than one seat. Secondly because it basically means that you could go to jail for not sitting properly, which I find immoral.

Did it happen? If so, is it illegal to sit improperly?

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    Apropos nothing, you cannot be arrested for traveling without a ticket in NYC subway. There are no tickets to carry and be checked - only cards you swipe at the subway entrance (and yes, you CAN be arrested if you vault the gate and a cop happens to be around).
    – user5341
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 19:19
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    I think it might be advisable to link to the specific claim you're talking about. This has attracted an answer that isn't about the events you're referring to, but without a link to those events (or any notability shown?), it seems like it would be hard to address what the it you're talking about is.
    – JMac
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 13:02

3 Answers 3



  • There's a largely undocumented - and lacking any detail - single claim from a biased group with an agenda.

  • Even if the claim were true (which, lacking detail or proof we can't prove), it seems misleading, as the arrest would have been for having prior outstanding arrest warrants.

Snopes article pretty much covers this in great detail: http://www.snopes.com/2015/06/02/manspreading-arrest/

Relevant summaries (highlighting mine):

So while multiple outlets reported upon New York City's first manspreading arrests, those articles all traced back to a single Gothamist article. The original article was predicated upon a report released by a group advocating against the New York Police Department's controversial use of "Broken Windows" policing, and it comprised a potpourri of reports, anecdotes, and other datapoints of unspecified origin.

... after detailing all the details MISSING from the report to make it credible....

It's possible that two unnamed men were arrested in New York City for manspreading, but no details about the claim were made available in the original report or any of the many later repetitions of it. The scant information suggested that the men were arrested not for manspreading but for arrest warrants already active at the time they came to the attention of the NYPD.

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    What I find the most amusing is how the same datapoint caused equal amount of outrage on Breitbart and HuffingtonPost.
    – user5341
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 19:19

Two years later, in November 2017, there were numerous media reports of another man "arrested for manspreading".





etc. But the devil is in the details - he was not arrested "for manspreading". Reading the reports carefully reveals that 1 he was allegedly "manspreading" 2 a woman "called him out" on that 3 he punched the woman 4 he was arrested for #3.

  • 1
    As this incident happened after the question was asked, it cannot be the incident the question is referring to, and thus this does not answer the question.
    – jwodder
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 2:54
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    @jwodder It certainly does. Urban legends repeat. If it bothers you, change the question to the more general "can you be arrested for manspreading"? Then this is a partial answer, but still legitimate.
    – user11643
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 5:34
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    @fredsbend We should not be changing questions to fit off topic answers. While "Can you be arrested for manspreading?" would be a valid question with a notable source, we should not be changing existing questions, especially ones that were asked close to 4 years ago, have a good answer, and only popped up due to a necro-post. This isn't an answer to the original question.
    – DenisS
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 14:16
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    Ironically, #3 makes my Bayesian reasoning to up my estimate that #1 was true as alleged :)
    – user5341
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 14:41
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    @DenisS 1) SE questions are meant to be timeless, so any age-based argument against editing is moot. Nor do we discourage "necro posting". We award badges for it! We don't close "old topics" like some forums do. 2) A more generalized question is usually more timeless, so perhaps this question should have been edited long ago. 3) Though we don't like breaking answers with a question edit, it is accepted as a necessary evil that does happen on occasion, however, there is some pragmatism, I'll concede, in just making a new question, but that hasn't stopped closure as duplicate in the past.
    – user11643
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 16:25

According to ‘Manspreading’ tickets down 12 percent

As of Sunday [28 May 2015], [New York, NY] cops had issued 1,430 violations to people who broke the MTA’s rules by occupying more than one seat and interfering with other passengers’ comfort.

There were 1,625 summonses given out over the same period last year, authorities said.

Section 1050.7(j) reads:

No person on or in any facility or conveyance shall:... occupy more than one seat on a station, platform or conveyance when to do so would interfere or tend to interfere with the operation of the Authority's transit system or the comfort of other passengers

So if you spread to the point of occupying more than one seat, you can be charged.

  • 1
    I read it that they ticket you, not arrest. I suppose if you become belligerent, that can lead to an arrest.
    – user11643
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 17:16
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    @fredsbend Usually for tickets if you sign them, you don't get arrested, but if you don't sign, then they arrest you, even if you are cooperative. It's just a $50 fine, no jail time.
    – DavePhD
    Commented Aug 1, 2019 at 17:18

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