How we can help pregnant CTA riders: Shame men to give up seat

Pregnant riderA recent column by a pregnant Tribune reporter rekindled the heated discussion: Why don’t men (especially young men) give up their seats to pregnant women?

From her account of her Red Line commute:

 I try to find the safest spot to stand, grab on tight and meekly search the faces of those around me, hoping someone will meet my gaze and offer a seat.

On this commute, two men, who appeared to be their 30s, sat right in front of me, one reading a book, the other his smartphone. Behind me sat two other nonpregnant men, one staring off into space with headphones on, another looking at his smartphone.

Minutes passed. As we approached a stop, I tightened my grip on the pole, and made room for another influx of passengers. At this point the four men around me still weren’t pregnant.

That’s when a woman noticed me. She jumped up and offered her seat. I thanked her as she told a boy with her, who was clutching an oversized suitcase, to make more room for me on the bench.

And here the nonscientific study begins: I asked the woman why she gave up her seat for me. She looked puzzled. I told her that I’m a reporter, and doing some research. She said she didn’t notice me at first. But then she did. And, she said simply, “You are pregnant.”

Here at CTA Tattler, we’ve discussed this topic a number of times, and of course we still haven’t figured it out. I think it’s simply because woman get it. Even if they’ve never been pregnant themselves, women understand the toll pregnancy takes on the female body.

The swollen feet. The distended belly, causing a marked body imbalance. The aching back.

Guys don’t get it. Especially young guys, who may not yet have had a pregnant wife.

Like the reporter above, most pregnant women don’t want to call out men (or women) to give up their seat from them.

So we should.

Assuming we’re standing, we should ask the guys around us to give up their seat. I have done it, and it works. At least one man will sheepishly stand up and offer his seat.

Let’s help the ladies out.
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  • Use humor to make these fat farts stand up and give up their seats. Also, I"m finding it's the young women/girls, who are giving up their seats, NOT THE MALES!

  • In reply to ApresSki:

    Yes it's young women who generally give up their seat. When I'm offered a seat, I'm old, not preggers, it's mostly women.

    Mothers should teach your sons, when you know better, you do better.

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    I think it has a lot to do with common sense and how people are raised. Even when I was 12 and riding the train or bus I knew better. Nobody told me to give up my seat to an elderly, disabled or pregnant woman, I think I just saw someone do it for someone growing up, and it just made sense to me. Like I said, common sense. Some people never develop it.

  • While the issue you pose is offering a pregnant women on CTA, the real is issue is not a CTA issue, but just common courtesy that seems to have become lost with many (not all) over the last couple of decades.

  • I think a lot has to do with people just not looking around once they're on the train. I'm guilty of this as well. I have a 50 minute commute every day, am I looking up at every stop to see if someone is pregnant and needing a seat at every stop? I'm not. If I were to see a pregnant lady, I would offer my seat, unfortunately I am usually in my own little world.

  • In reply to Rob M:

    I'm sure I've been guilty of this too. I'm either mucking with my phone or just spaced out.

  • I can tell you what's going on, many (immature) males still resent feminism, and that Women have lifted themselves from the "June Cleaver/Stepford" stereotype. In their nasty little heads it's like: "you wanted equality beech, now stand there and suffer" They see you alright.

  • My wife and I were just talking about this subject the other night. She observed the exact same behavior about 2 and a half years ago. She would stand as the reporter did, and not once did anyone (mostly men, she remembered) offered her a seat during the instances when she would commute via CTA. I'm sure the look on her face needed to be more miserable or perhaps she needed to develop an evil eye?

    In a sharp contrast, we took a babymoon in Barcelona during the middle of her 2nd trimester and we experienced the exact opposite. Within a few seconds of entering a crowded car, there would at least be a handful of seated passengers that would notice and gesture for her to take their seat. We also noticed a sign in each car encouraging passengers to among other things: 1. Not play loud music 2. Give up seats to senior / disabled / pregnant citizens. In any case, this was one of the many things we loved about Barcelona.

    Maybe American society, especially young adults, are too encapsulated in a bubble whether that bubble consists of their own thoughts or an electronic device (don't get me started on the number of people I see on a daily basis almost get hit by cars in the Loop while they are in their bubbles). I agree with RobM that sometimes people may not just be aware, not looking around and minding their own business. Nevertheless, I would hope that eventually common sense and awareness of our surroundings reign supreme again.

  • I agree. Very selfish. Very rude. Able bodied young men. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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    Or we could cut the passive-aggressive crap and just ask for what we want. FYI, men are not secret mind readers.

  • In reply to Jason Pelker:

    You think noticing a pregnant woman standing is "mind-reading?"

    I guess the Spaniards are much better mind-readers than us Americans!

  • Everyone wants to be treated equal until they want special treatment. Since I am not one of the cattle huddling near the front or by the doors and move to the rear I am not sitting in priority seating. Usually plenty of room back there. But I would give up my seat for old times sake if a prego ventured back there.

  • In reply to symes4u:

    This x 100.

  • If a woman is not clearly pregnant and is in the gray zone of "that could be stomach fat," I won't make the offer. Otherwise, I usually will.

  • In reply to WCityMike:

    I was going to say this. I think people are afraid to offer a seat because what if their assumption is wrong? I had my 3rd baby 8 months ago and there are days/certain outfits where I'm sure I look a few months along. If someone offered me a seat, I'd die. Just, die right there.

    NEW RULE: If you are pregnant on the bus or train, you *MUST* rub and pat your belly. That's the signal. Then we can pile up on all the rude jerks or whatever if they still don't give you a seat!

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    In reply to Jenna Karvunidis:

    Jenna, that is funny!!

  • In reply to Jenna Karvunidis:

    Been there, too. I can't always decide if I want people to notice, or if we should all pretend it's not THAT obvious... even if I am due in 6 weeks :)

    That being said, sometimes it's during those trying 1st trimester days, when you're not showing, that you kind of wish you were- so maybe someone would sympathize and offer you a seat.

  • Kevin, it's a shame that we even have to discuss this. I didn't know that this was still such a problem. Even with the automated announcements, people (men & women) aren't giving up their seats to pregnant women? I wonder if there are some stats for this. Of course, this could also apply to senior citizens and the disabled.

  • Like what JPesos said, in Barcelona -- nobody sat there and "didn't notice", probably because they weren't raised by wolves like here.

    My wife used to tell me the same thing when she was pregnant, NO SEAT; and yes - I do risk embarrasment by offering a seat, and being wrong (hang-your-head-in-shame); but at least I offer (All elderly & disabled too)

    And yes, Grandma could stand there and pass-out on the floor ignored -- and they might just step over her getting in & out the door.

  • "They didn't notice" b/s -- If Pamela Anderson came through the doors they would be knocking each other over like Rugby jumping up out of seats.

  • I remember while in HS riding the #6 northbound the bus had reached capacity by 71st Street - there was a pregnant woman who had to board and the driver stopped the bus, turned around, and pleaded with the people to move back and allow the woman to board. Somebody in the back of the bus then said/asked "Where's her _ _ _ _ _ _?

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    WTF is _ _ _ _ _ _?
    At least put a few letters in there.

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    Where's her "what"? Are we just supposed to guess the word, "Wheel of Fortune" style? If it's not an expletive, spell it out!!! If it is an expletive, you have to spell out some of the word (part of beginning/part of end), then we might be able to figure it out.

  • fifth letter is either an E or an A; sixth letter is an R or a H, and tha is all the clues Im willing to provide.

  • I was raised that it was polite for a boy/man to offer his seat to a girl/woman, in a crowded bus, or subway train. Then, when I was in my early 20's, I offered a seat to a girl, close to my age, on the Long Island Rail Road. She declined, then exchanged a sarcastic glance with her friends. That put down convinced me that I should not offer my seat to just any woman. However, if I know her, or if she is old, pregnant, or disabled, THEN I will still do it!

  • In reply to SingleDonald:

    Ouch. I can sympathize, having been in my early 20s back when everyone spoke Latin and the woods were full of dinosaurs. Still—you didn't learn the wrong lesson from that experience, as some apparently have done.

    And if it makes any difference now: you weren't the one who behaved badly back then on the LIRR.

  • In reply to rastewart:

    Thanks for your kind words, rastewart!

  • You are not the Queen of England. If you want a seat ask someone if they will move for you, most of the time people will. Men have been taught that treating women as weak and incapable of managing their own lives, pregnant or not is a serious no-no. You can't have it both ways. Add to that, any Chicago commuter knows you simply block out others around you on a crowded L car or run the risk of some crazy person telling you their entire life story, or trying something creepy, and you have commuter blind people. But it is a huge mistake simply to think that just standing there while pregnant will get you a seat. You have no idea what the story of that guy is. He may have had a hip or knee replacement that isn't visible or an artificial leg making it next to impossible to stand for long periods. So before you judge, take your own actions into account as well. Did you ask for a seat and get refused? That's far different than standing there while pregnant and thinking people can read your mind that you want a seat. I've seen women be quite rude when offered seats because they look pregnant. It only takes one such incident to show an entire L car full of men never to do that again. So bottom line, if you want a seat ask for one. We don't know what's inside your head if you don't say, expecting people to just "know" is sort of ridiculous.

  • In reply to MikeinChgo:

    Yeah, what's wrong with just asking for a seat if you want one?

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    Though I am a gentleman and often will give up my seat, open doors, or even just offer random help to a woman who looks like she needs it, I have a problem with this logic.

    Feminists and Women's Rights movements clamor for "Equality" and while doing so speak out about how men deny them equal rights. This makes me wonder why it should be expected that am man give up his seat for a woman.

    I also wonder how when you start shaming a guy who is sitting while a woman (pregnant or otherwise) is standing you inherently know that the man you are berating doesn't have a ankle, knee, or back problem?

    At age 33 I suffer from an early onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis & Fibromyalgia & well as having had surgery on both my right knee & right ankle in the past. If I am sitting on the bus in a pear of jeans there is no indication of the underlying health problems I face.

    So even though I feel it is right to give your seat to others who need it more, I also feel that this idea of shaming someone who is sitting that you don't think should be sitting could be extremely insensitive to that person if they do have a legitimate reason to need to take a seat.

  • Okay, I know I'm going to be roasted for this, but . . .

    I was raised to believe that a man always offered his seat to a woman, irrespective of age or condition. For years and years, I did exactly that. Until the day I practically had my head ripped off by a radical feminist. She accused me of wanting to oppress women, to make them subservient, to make them dependent, etc. By the time she finished everyone in the train car must have thought I was some kind of uncivilized beast. I was beyond embarrassed, I was humiliated. I decided that day that my attitude had to change.

    So I have capitulated to feminism. Women have fought for over a century to be equal to men in every way. Congratulations. This now means you stand if there are no seats. You open your own doors.

    Sometimes, equality isn't all it's cracked up to be.

  • Well, we'll, we'll. As a polite society one should offer their seat to anyone who looks inconvenienced. However as young men we have had- beaten into our brains- that women are not weak, do not open doors for them, do not help them with their coats etc. We should treat women no differently than men. It is insulting and chauvinistic. Women box, have football teams, drive race cars and do everything that has been male. I will always offer my seat to a pregnant women and have done so countless times. I have also seen plenty of other men do so as we'll so This story is BS. Just another way to berate males.

  • Curtis Mayfield wrote a song about this (although not specifically about pregnant women) in 1971. So, this is not an entirely new phenomenon.

  • fb_avatar's really not that difficult to ask for a seat. "Would you mind giving up your seat for me?" I've previously had a pregent woman (who appeared to be in her 20s) just come up and say "I'm going to take your seat from you." I was so dumfounded by her rudeness that I gave up her seat instead of saying "You can ask politely for it. How do you know I don't have back artificial leg...etc?"
    I have (and will) give up my seat for the elderly, someone in a cast/with crutches, pregnant women, people travelling with small children. I've also had people offer me seats when I was carrying crutches with me on a bus (I was actually bringing them back home, not using them). I didn't take the seat.

  • I appreciate this whole post, and the thoughtful comments. There are many good observations: 1) You can't assume that a woman is pregnant, especially as a man. There is no good way to finesse this: if you say, "I'm not sure whether or not you're pregnant, but am willing to give you my seat if you are" you have embarrassed the woman who is not pregnant; 2) This has to be an unintended consequence of Feminism and of full equality. The armed forces are dealing with this lack of real equality in a different way: note the different Physical Test requirements for men and women. 3) Some women chafe greatly at being offered a seat, and express their rejection with scorn, ridicule, and an aggrieved sense of "rights." What's worse is when someone is obviously pregnant and still refuses the offer of a seat. I think the best option in our current climate is for pregnant women to politely ask if someone will give up their seat.

  • There is a reason to not ask for a seat - FEAR. Unfortunately one never knows the mental condition of strangers. Better not to say anything than risk setting someone off.

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