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Why give up your seat on public transport for a pregnant woman? Some views, discussion, and examples of refusal.

 

 

Here’s a little riddle for you:

Two people get on a tube train at the same stop, there is one free seat. Passenger no. 1 gets on first and so goes to the seat, he starts to sit down and his backside has only just touched the chair when the second passenger very politely says, “excuse me, do you mind if I sit down because I’m pregnant?”. Who gets the seat? The pregnant woman or the man?

  • Answer →→ → It wasn’t the pregnant woman.

  • I witnessed this today on a busy tube train.

 

To continue the story….. So as I was saying above, the woman asks the man for the seat. The man sits and then waves his hands toward the priority seat next to him and says “there’s a priority seat there why don’t you ask them” in a dismissive and harsh tone. Slightly confused and embarrassed by this, the pregnant woman looks at the woman in the priority seat and asks again, “do you mind if I sit down”. Before she can barely finish the priority seat woman says “I feel dizzy so no”. Ok, says the pregnant woman.
She now probably feels quite exposed and embarrassed, and maybe is starting to feel a bit stressed. She looks at the woman in the priority seat opposite but she has massive headphones on. The pregnant woman isn’t sure how to address her seeing as she probably wouldn’t be able to hear and the pregnant woman doesn’t want to start shouting across the carriage DO YOU MIND IF I SIT DOWN, I’M PREGNANT? Does the initial refusing man, on hearing that the priority seat cannot be vacated, then change his approach and offer his seat after all (I mean, seeing as his displacement tactic seemed to fail)? – no he does not.
Fortunately, two people who are sitting nearby witness all this and offer their seats. The pregnant woman probably just wants to get off the train after experiencing this, but gratefully accepts one of the seats and says thank you several times. She wants to give the refusing man a few words and ask why he acted like this? But, she is too upset to start getting into a conversation and embarrassed because the whole carriage has witnessed this event so keeps quiet and looks sad in her seat.

 

 

To the woman who felt dizzy, ok fair enough, maybe you did and I respect that. To the woman with the headphones on, ok, of course you can listen to music on the train, no issue, it just kind of makes it difficult for people to approach you if you’re in the priority seat and the person is already feeling self conscious and had a hard enough time from two passengers already. Maybe this is similar to the frequent observation of seeing people in the priority seats with their eyes closed (conveniently closed when we get to the next station and passengers start piling on), or paper in front of their faces so that communication with them is made extremely difficult and they don’t have to notice anyone who might be a priority.
My issue is with the original refuser. If the pregnant woman got on the train and he was already sitting there then of course, why would she ask him? She would ask those in the priority seats. But she asked him because they both got on the train, her one second behind him, it’s not like he had been sitting there for ages and she booted him out of the seat. Two people, one seat, one person explicitly says to the other I’m pregnant, do you mind if I sit – possibly a reasonable thing to ask in that situation??

 

  • oh an by the way – original refuser (i’m going to call him weasel man, because he looked like a weasel, and also acted like one but i’m going more on his looks) – do you know what every pregnant woman really REALLY wants?? Why, it’s stress, humiliation, having to justify herself in front of a carriage load of strangers and being made to feel like crap!! Of course it is. Well, congratulations because this morning, you helped her achieve that. The stress was especially welcomed, i’m sure! We all know what a good impact that has on the body, don’t we, and let’s not mention the high levels of cortisol and potential impact on the baby… Words can not describe, but I hope you are ashamed of yourself, except, i’m sure you’re not and you probably boasted about your response and complained bitterly and laughed about the “sense of entitlement” some pregnant woman displayed to you on the train, with your sad little friends down the pub (if you have any friends). 

 

Now anyway, back to the issue. I know some people disagree with pregnant women being able to safety sit down on public transport and having to give up a seat for them. Well, to those people and their comments, I have some responses, see below. The issues below are inspired by comments I have read from other people about such situations, either in on-line articles, or sometimes in the free newspaper you get on the tube…

 

  • Pregnant women have an overinflated sense of entitlement, I’m not giving up my seat to some princess just because they have a baby on board badge on:
    Pregnant women either do not ask to sit down because they are too concerned to approach someone, or they politely ask someone in the priority seat because THAT’S WHAT THE PRIORITY SEAT IS FOR. And, like every “group” of people in life, there are going to be some group members that might come across as a bit more pushy, but if you were carrying another life inside your body you might be a bit protective too.

 

  • Pregnant women are not ill (or it’s not a disability), so why should they sit down?:
    No, pregnancy is not an illness, but yes women can feel ill. In the first trimester (and beyond for some) they can feel incredibly nauseous (and of course, be sick), dizzy, overwhelming tiredness, aches and pains. Later in pregnancy you can suffer all sorts of problems including back pain, ligament pain, jimmy legs (restless legs) and probably many more issues. No, pregnancy is not an illness or disability, but the person might need to sit down due to many of the reasons mentioned above, which are not necessarily affecting non-pregnant people. Also, try walking around with an 8lb baby inside you all day. Ok.

 

  • I have my own physical health problems or disabilities that are not noticeable (i.e., you wouldn’t be able to notice by looking at the person that they do in fact need to sit down). I can’t just go and demand a seat like the pregnant woman, why can’t I go around with this same sense of entitlement and seat taking behaviour as the pregnant woman when I also need to sit? Why should they get to sit down?:
    I’m sorry if it is difficult for you to stand on public transport and you have a valid point in wanting to sit. The priority seat is for people who are pregnant, disabled or less able to stand. As people often instruct the pregnant woman to do, maybe ask for seat and give your reasons. As mentioned, I saw a woman in the priority seat say to a pregnant woman she “felt dizzy” so couldn’t give up her seat. The pregnant woman accepted this. Maybe other passengers would listen if you asked to sit down too. I understand that you shouldn’t have to justify or give your life story in order to sit down, but unfortunately, other people can be mindless and need some prompting, as the pregnant woman will probably tell you after the 100th time she has stood in front of someone on a train, rubbing a massive bump and no one has noticed.

 

  • Pregnant women should be at home, or, if you’re that “incapacitated” you shouldn’t be travelling:
    Do I really have to provide ANY response to this in order to support a pregnant person’s position?! Well ok, just for a start, we all have things to do, places to go, jobs, appointments, lives, pregnant women do not sit at home knitting for 9 months. Many women decide to work up until a few weeks or even the week of their due date, either for financial reasons, work pressures or because the more maternity leave you take before the baby is born the less you have to use afterwards. Some women don’t want to waste a month of maternity leave sitting at home prior to baby’s arrival. They are also not incapacitated, they are growing a child inside their bodies and might not be able to stand for long due to all the reasons above about health complaints during pregnancy and also safety aspects, as I will discuss below.

 

  • Women complain about gender inequality but then say things like ohhh the age of chivalry is gone, men should give up their seats, etc etc, you can’t have it both ways!:
This is not about chivalry, this is not about gender equality, this is about safety. That woman represents two lives, and one is quite fragile. Or, she is unwell and it would be difficult to stand for a long period. Maybe she could stand in front of you and then puke all over you when the nausea finally gets too much, would that be preferable?

 

The reason I would ask for a seat (when pregnant): Because I’m tired, dizzy, feel sick, but most importantly for me, because IT’S NOT SAFE TO GET SQUASHED AND THROWN AROUND ON A CROWDED TUBE TRAIN (or, insert other transport method here) WHEN PREGNANT.

  • I have been pushed, completely squashed and wedged between other passengers, hit (accidently – but required me going to the minor injuries unit and the perpetrator didn’t even notice he’d done it even when I tried to point it out), bulldozed out the way by people trying to get off the train who don’t care about others, had people almost fall on me or fall over in my direction, and probably other incidents that I’ve forgotten about during my 10 or so years of commuting. This, fortunately, was not when I was pregnant although I did have a few people almost fall on me and a person drop their bag on the escalator in front of me when pregnant. The bag fortunately landed on my arm which I had out holding the hand rail, so everything was ok. Still a shock, though.

 

My main argument, then, is: it’s not safe to stand when pregnant, and if you are growing a life inside you then that becomes your priority and should, yes it should, give you entitlement to sit down. If you sit in the priority seat then be prepared to move. I am, and I have moved when asked (quite recently actually, by a women who wasn’t wearing a baby on board badge and didn’t “look pregnant”, but said she was, so ok, and I was in the priority seat). If you don’t want to get up then you have no empathy, awareness of others and their feelings or dignity. End

 

_________________________________________________________

 

If you want to read more about the “baby on board” badge issue, including some experiences from pregnant women, see here: http://www.ababyonboard.com/a-very-royal-baby-on-board-badge/
Unfortunately, there are worse experiences out there:
I did wear one [baby on board badge], after about 5 months people generally ignored it though – I was standing at 36 weeks. My worst two stories: the man who pushed in front of me to get the last seat realised I was heavily pregnant and then pretended to be asleep all the way and the delightful two young ladies who shouted at me and told me they hated people who thought a badge entitled them to a seat and that they wanted to sit down…I see shocking behaviour everyday of women with badges displayed and being totally ignored. (from ababyonboard.com, link above)
 

I really hope these are incredibly isolated incidents, but if not, remember, for all the inconsiderate, despicable “human beings” out there, there will be someone who does give a sh*t, and might help you out. Although, you might have to ask more than one passenger before you find them…

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