Marianne Wex: on Mansprawling!



Tanya Leighton

Kurfürstenstraße 156 & 24/25



11 JANUARY -  17 FEBRUARY 2018



In the meantime, you’ll find me adopting the man-sprawl on Instagram, a shout out to the ladies to take up more space than ever before. @aprilvonstauffenberg

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I have always been a nerd, my whole life long. Or rather, at least since the age of 6, when I demanded that my mother stay at my side as I examined each and every moon rock, gem and meteorite in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.


So when I see the nerdy work of an artist like Marianne Wex (born in 1937), it tickles my funny bone. In the 1970s, you’d find her hanging out at train stations taking photographs, lots and lots of them, of people sitting. Her interest lay in distinguishing the differences between men and women, how physiology reveals psychology. After taking 2500 photos, she took another 2500 or so to make sure that her possibly premature conclusion was not premature, that yes, men take up more space when they sit.

This is hardly a revelation to anyone who has ever taken the subway or sat squashed in economy, even on Lufthansa!

Men sprawl.

But wait: isn’t it because of those hairy gonads dangling between their legs? Isn’t a sprawling position more comfortable for them? I am sitting at the cafe now and I doubt that the position of all of the men sitting in sight has anything to do with macho ideology, whether latent or learned. (Wex says that we adopt these gender-learned positions as of 10 years old.) And as I, a woman, cross my legs over one another for the umpteenth time after arduously trying my best to keep a man-sprawl pose, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t agree with Marianne Wex, no matter how hard I’d like to agree with her. Her sociological study is certainly interesting—and a joy to see. Go see it and disagree with me.

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