Jessica Gross

The Way We Sit

In people watching on September 26, 2008 at 4:15 pm

In a women’s studies class in college, I read a decade-old article by Jocelyn Hollander comparing men’s and women’s style of sitting. In the article, which isn’t available online, Hollander notes that men usually sit with their legs spread wide open while women sit with their legs crossed. Why? Because women are supposed to be diminutive and take up less space, and men are encouraged to take up space — not just physically, but in the professional, social, and domestic realms, too.

During a meeting in my office today, I did some investigating. Props to Hollander: many more women than men were crossing their legs, and more men had their legs spread apart. But a couple of guys had their legs crossed, and a couple of girls had one ankle on the opposite knee in a stereotypical guys’ pose. On other investigations, too, I’ve noticed men crossing their legs: in subways, on buses, lounging in restaurant chairs. Is this a new trend? A New York trend? Or do I just notice the leg-crossers because I’m looking for them?

And what does it all mean?

Do some investigating of your own. Report back in comments.

  1. Dudes cross legs all the time! Especially those that are tall. It’s easier.

    Also — watch late night TV talk shows — most everyone crosses their legs…

  2. I rarely ever cross my legs, it’s uncomfortable. Aren’t women taught to cross their legs as etiquette?

    Lucas is right, check out late night TV, it almost seems required to cross their legs.

    ALSO, I’ve heard crossing your legs is one of the causes of women getting varicose veins.

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