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.
This anti-manspreading chair is absolutely brilliant pic.twitter.com/3gozdrnvAT— Mashable (@mashable) November 2, 2019
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."
I always find it funny when male feminists are like— Tim Pool (@Timcast) November 5, 2019
"I could sit with my legs closed!"
Yes yes we get it, you have tiny balls
Not all of us have tiny balls https://t.co/2M65g6iU2K
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.
so if the idea was to stop intruding someone's space won't woman do that now with that chair? I don't have a problem feminism but this seems unnecessary— Anirudh (@anirudhsr2000) November 2, 2019
Several social media users suggested the issue was not a sexism issue as women too can be inconsiderate in public spaces.
Well, if manspreading really is an issue and super obnoxious in seats, you know what else we have to get rid of? Women who put their purses on the side of seats and selfishly take up more room doing so. True equality.— Konata™ ⭐️ (@NotKonata) November 4, 2019
Others felt it was unfair to be physically forced to sit a certain way, describing it as a form of shaming.
This chair is highly problematic because it's both body-shaming and ableist. A lot of transphobia in here too. Y'all cancelled.— PariahDog119🗽⚖️☭⃠ 卐⃠ (@PDog119) November 5, 2019
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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