In the 1962 film The Music Man, after the librarian Marion Paroo turns down Harold Hill's advances, there is a scene in which the salesman engages in (fully clothed) "manspreading." The movie was considered "G" rated, so I imagine that the display was not too shocking for its time, even though the context of the act (the chasing of the librarian) made the intent clear.

On the other hand, Basic Instinct in 1992, thirty years later, featured an actress who spread and unspread her unclothed "legs," and that was considered shocking.

What accounted for the acceptability of Professor Hill's "manspreading" in 1962 versus Sharon Stone's, 1992. Was that "new" to the time, that is, the more expressive 1960? Was it because the people were clothed? Or was it less pejorative for men than for women?

Edit: I linked the film clip for clarity. The referenced scene occurs toward the very end.

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    This is the first I've heard of "manspreading". The Wikipedia article says that it refers to men taking up too much space on busses and other public transit, and doesn't seem to suggest it's a vulgar act. I'm really confused as to what that has to do with The Music Man. Dec 1, 2017 at 5:16
  • @TomAu You can embed the video directly into your post if you like. I think YouTube will also let you select a specific point in a video when copying the link, so you can link directly to the moment in question.
    – F1Krazy
    Dec 1, 2017 at 9:34
  • @F1Krazy: I know that this can be done,but not how to do it. I barely know how to link. Could you please make the edit? It's about 3:50, almost at the end.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 1, 2017 at 9:36
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    From what I've seen on Nat Geo, spreading the legs is kind of an invite. However, the manspreading was never an unacceptable thing if cloths are on. And it was the nudity that caused the controversy for the manspreading in Basic Instinct. If Sharon spread the legs with cloths on, there would not be such a big drama over this.
    – A J
    Dec 1, 2017 at 10:19
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    He just moved his legs a bit. It's not suggestive at all. If you want "real" manspreading (if that's a term), then you only need to look for Kenny Everett
    – user43022
    Dec 1, 2017 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


It's not the time or the leg position that matters, it's the nudity. Absolutely clothing makes a huge difference. Also, most nudity in American movies that are rated R or less is only the breasts and buttocks. I can't think of another example where the female genitals are displayed so prominently (although briefly) in a major motion picture.

As far as I know, any leg position for a man or a woman where no nakedness or genitals are revealed has never been shocking in movies. Generally, being fully clothed is totally acceptable to American audiences, as long as the clothing is not so tight as to reveal all the contours and shapes beneath.


Unfortunately, you have completely misconstrued what is going on here.

He's not "manspreading"...he's dancing while sitting...as part of a musical scene..


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