Anti-Manspreading Chair Was Supposed to Be a Genius Solution. Instead People Are Rebelling Against It

Published November 5th, 2019 - 10:19 GMT

A British designer has infuriated people online over a chair she designed to stop "manspreading" by forcing men to sit with their legs closed. One news outlet described it as brilliant, but many on social media disagree. 

The designer of the chair, Laila Laurel, said the concept chair was inspired by her experiences of men "infringing on my space in public." 

But since winning a UK national design award, she said: "I have received a lot of explicit messages from men who seem to be under the impression that I hate all men." The University of Brighton student said this "couldn't be further from the truth frankly."

The 23-year-old said the reaction from those who used the chairs was "brilliant and interesting." She also made a second chair intended for women which encourages sitters to push their legs apart. 

Several social media users suggested the issue was not a sexism issue as women too can be inconsiderate in public spaces.

Others felt it was unfair to be physically forced to sit a certain way, describing it as a form of shaming.

But the chair designer's intent was mainly to create a conversation and create awareness about a common problem.

"I don't take myself too seriously, because I really want my work to be both important and thought provoking, whilst also being engaging and funny," Laurel said. "I think humour is a really interesting tool in order to tackle social issues." 

She said she was inspired by the The Everyday Sexism Project founded by Laura Bates, which collects women's daily experiences of gender inequality.

Ms Laurel's prize includes a £1,000 bursary and the chance to design a product for a hotel and leisure company. She said the chairs were "more of a concept and not necessarily a functional design", but it was encouraging that the judges "like the feminist slant on design." 

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