Taking A Stand…Or A Seat: Should Pregnant Women Expect Men To Be Chivalrous?

November 3, 2013  |  

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I’ve been living in New York City for over 10 years and I take the subway almost daily. While I can say that my experience living here has made it so that nothing really surprises me anymore, I still seem to be amazed at the number of men who don’t offer their seats for pregnant women on public transportation. Maybe I should say I’m not surprised, but I’m definitely still bothered by it.

Now that I’m 7 months pregnant and visibly so, I think I get annoyed mostly by men who stare at my stomach for the length of the train ride, but couldn’t care less that I’m carrying bags or look like I’m about to tip over. They give me an unapologetic look that says, “I don’t care if your water is about to break, I am NOT getting up.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider being pregnant a disability or a handicap. If anything, it’s just uncomfortable to stand on a crowded train with people bumping into your belly, or trying not to fall over during a bumpy ride because your center of gravity might be off. However, pregnancy for a lot of women takes a huge toll on their body, and if she doesn’t have the luxury of staying home and has to use public transportation to get to and from work, that ride can be tricky…and somewhat exhausting. It just makes us happier if we can sit down for a bit.

I don’t expect men or women of a certain age to stand up for me and if a man is using crutches or something, I don’t expect him to hobble on my account. That would just be silly. But to know that women will offer their seat to me before a seemingly fine man will is crazy. I’ve even been offered a seat by another pregnant woman who wasn’t as far along as I was. Imagine that.

At this point, I’m used to not being offered a seat – and I’m okay with that. In NYC, I dare not ask a man to offer me his seat for fear of getting cussed out. I’ve actually seen a pregnant woman ask a man for his seat and his reaction was actually one of “surprise”…and then anger. I learned my lesson and a seat just isn’t worth it to me.

So what do we make of this? Is chivalry dead, or are pregnant women walking around with a false sense of entitlement? After all, no one asked me to get pregnant and other than the protruding belly, I appear perfectly fine.

Should heavily pregnant women expect special treatment just because they’re carrying life, or should we just get over it and wear comfortable shoes?

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