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Giving up seats: Men should be ashamed

Earlier this week in the general "tell your CTA story" area on this site, a young mother wrote to thank the WOMEN who have given up their seat on a full train for her and her 3-year-old daughter:

"In the 2 years I have been riding the train with my daughter every Monday-Friday, only 3 times has a gentleman offered me a seat. All other times it has been a woman. I can't thank you enough."

Come on guys, we should all be ashamed! I know, this may be an isolated incident and it's bad to generalize, but really. She recounts TWO YEARS of experience, and says only three guys gave up a seat?

I'm embarrassed for the whole male gender.

And thank you ladies.


Frankly, if someone needs a seat someone of either gender should consider giving one up. But only three in two years? Sheesh.

Frankly, if someone needs a seat someone of either gender should consider giving one up. But only three in two years? Sheesh.

This is about evolution. I would never give up my seat for a woman or an elderly person. Why? Because I am young, tall, and strong. It's all about survival of the fittest. You want my seat? Then you will have to be able to beat me up for it!

It makes it hard to read this blog when you exhibit immediate distain for your own gender over something as stupid as this. Maybe that young mother is just a man-hating bitch who hasn't gotten any in a while. Why don't you consider that possibility before slandering the whole friggin gender.

Personally, I'll give my seat up to the old, infirm and women with babies/small children but I won't even consider giving it up for someone half my age just because of gender. Frankly, at this point in my life they should be giving their seats up for me.

I'm guessing that 'bob' and 'David Davidson' are two of the examples of why this woman felt the need to post this issue.

To say "men" (and I use the term very loosely in this case) like them should be ashamed is pointless, as they obviously have no shame or class.

David: Evolution is a flawed system, but it makes sense that you subscribe to it as you seem to be a flawed person.

bob: What does the amount of time since a woman has "gotten some" have to do with whether you are able to behave as a gentleman towards her? Is the amount of sexual contact a woman has the barometer that determines your conduct towards her?

Everyone can obviously do whatever they want to, but I don't see any reason why a woman with a child or an elderly person should have to stand when I am able to stand and ride the train more easily than they can given the circumstances (a child in tow or physical infirmities). I would challenge 'bob' and 'David' to try giving up your seat for someone less able to stand than yourself. I promise, it won't kill you.

I call bullshit. I see men and women give up their seats for seniors and kids all the time, but men do it more often.

No, what this is about is the lost of empathy between people. We are all so absorbed in our iPods, PSPs, cell phones and other portable devices (turned up to ear splitting volumes), that we’ve all forgotten what “common courtesy” is.

It should be a very simple task. Treat others, as you want to be treated. But here in the 21st Century, we seem to have left our manner back in the early 20th Century. Giving up a seat is not sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and compassion. Not to mention, if you’re healthy and able-bodied, move toward the back of the bus, out of the door in the train and leave those seats for the people who actually need them. So your not right at the door when it opens; guess what, all of the bus/train arrives a stop at the same time!

I may not be perfect, but I like to think I am consistent. When I get on any public conveyance, I make sure I move far enough into the vehicle to allow other persons to board behind me, if there women or elderly people, I let them board before me. If there’s not enough room for me to get on, then I wait for the next bus/train. It’s my choice.

And while my post is made from the point of view of a man in his thirties, it should apply to all young men and women.

Courtesy is never bad form. Uncivilized behavior is.

I say, unless you're sitting in those "priority" seats near the doors and at the ends of some train cars, you should feel no guilt at keeping your seat. You arrived on the train, you kept the priority seating available for the elderly and infirm (where children fit into these categories I have no idea). Male or female, you've done your job and paid the minimum consideration.

If you want to earn a merit badge from your troop, relinquish your economy-class seat; that's just fine. It's always nice when you can make yourself feel a little less guilty for all the other social sins you commit throughout the day, but don't badger groggy morning or worn-out evening riders because some sugared-up kid wants to bounce on the seats.

Also, for the dozen or so women who gave up their seat, thousands of other women did not. Those statistics might be better than men, but only by a couple hundredths of a percentage point. Woo-hoo, were all selfish jerks, but by a hair's-width margin the jerks with uteruses are less selfish than the one's without. That's hardly worth bragging about, or, conversely, feeling gender shame over.

Niles, the only thing in your post I disagree with is 'because some sugared-up kid wants to bounce on the seats.'

When I was 6 I was standing on the train not paying attention (hey, I was 6) nor holding on. The train came to an abrupt halt, I went flying and ended up with a broken wrist. I also knocked over someone but I don't know how badly they were hurt.

This is why I give my seat up to kids under 10 years old. They're a safety hazard if you let them stand.

Nothing new here. My children and 12 and 14 now but I had similar experiences when I was pregnant with them and when they were little.

Ten hours before I gave birth to a 10 pound baby no one offered me a seat on the Brown line and the train wasn't even crowded. (It wasn't a situation where no one could see me in the crowd). The guy whom I stood in front of looked at my tummy (I was wearing a summer dress) every time he turned a page of his novel.

PyroTech, I agree whole-heartedly. Sad but true.

Niles, speak for yourself. Not all of us are selfish jerks.

If one needs to sit down one could also politely ask someone to give up their seat. To date I haven't met many people who can read minds. :-)

I was on the lady's side 100% til the comment about the male gender...

I always give up my seat... Even if they say they are only going a couple stops, I insist...

Where I work, I have to stand for 8 hours, so I can totally understand someone waiting for someone else to give up their seat, and I think that could be whats going through some guys' heads, but I will agree for the most part that chivalry is dead. Just dont blame ALL GUYS for it... Makes you look like a man-hater... It does...

Personally, I dont give up my seat for anyone. Why? Because typically women expect that men should gie seats up just because they are female. Well, thats a bunch of crap if you ask me. I wait for the bus or train just like you, so if I am there first; why shouldn't I get to sit down. You want a seat? I suggest that you get up early, wait for another bus, or take a taxi! And second, I will say that women are terribly slow when it comes to walking up or down at the el stations. Most women are juggling a purse, bags, and talking on their cell phone. Lady! Move it, I got a train to catch!

It saddens me as a female to see that men get the impression that "typically" females think they are entitled to a seat just because of their gender. I am very happy to say that I do not fall into that category. I also think that we shouldn't slam men for not giving up their seats right away. People from both genders can be selfish. Perhaps the women that gave up their seats to the young mother in the post can simply empathize with having to take the train with a child because they have had to do it themselves.

Personally I think David Davidson didn't mean anything more than a little humour in his reply, and bob is just seeing what type of reaction he can get.

this is an old issue that was discussed in great detail about a month or two ago. and once again, people brought up this "too self absorbed in their iPod's and PSP's" b.s. then too. that is so beyond stupid. just because someone is listening to music or playing a game to make the time go faster doesnt mean that they are completely shutting out the rest of the world.

i doubt that this issue has anything to do with women or men giving up their seats... it probably has a lot more to do with the AGE of the person who gave up their seat. i am only 21, and yes, i would likely give up my seat for an elderly person, etc., but a lot of people around my age seem to not care about their surroundings much. obviously there are exceptions, so i'm not saying everyone. but notice i said a lot of PEOPLE around my age. females are just as guilty as males.

ANYONE able-bodied should give up the seat... not just males.

stop this sex vs. sex bullshit. it gets annoying.

pyrotech, i like how your post states "all young men and women." all YOUNG men and women. i think the problem is everyone. i know that in what i just posted i picked out of the crowd people that are around my age. however, regardless of age, everyone should have common courtesy. the original statement was "only 3 times has a gentleman offered me a seat" not "some dumb teenage kid" as you all want to push as the topic.

this "blog" has so much constant ageism, sexism and just outright rudeness. (not necessarily the original post, but the subsequent comments) and its funny how the ageism and sexism go the opposite way that it would in everyday life... instead of older people being shit on, it's young people, and instead of women being shit on, it's guys.

i consider myself a feminist. i do believe that men and women should be treated as equals (definition of feminism). so i do not condone people being rude to/about women, but i also do not condone the acting as if men are all pigs and cant ever give up a seat.

Maureen, if it wasn't a crowded Brown line train, I'm sure a time would have come along where you could have easily obtained a seat. For the most part, when I'm on the Brown line it "isn't crowded" and people come and go, leaving a great amount of time and ability to get a seat.

Also, I agree with Ron, maybe some people could ASK. sure, its "common courtesy" but maybe if its SO god damn terrible you could ask.

thats the thing... most women i'm sure are perfectly fine standing... they're just SO SHOCKED that a MAN wouldnt give up his seat for a WOMAN! OH MY! it isnt the 1700's anymore... women wanted more rights, they got them, maybe they can stop acting like feeble little beings who have to have a seat over a man?

Though he and I both clearly took the bait, I agree with adam that this issue is an exhausted red herring.

Nary a month goes by that the discrimination card isn't played on this blog. You'd think that it was one of the CTA's most pressing issue or one that affects a vast swath of its riders.

Yes, yes. Courtesy is important, but when you think about public transportation, is that really your top issue? Is that even in your top five? Seriously: we have closing stations, service cutbacks, a self-serving CTA president, filthy stations and trains, new route proposals, lackadaisical night security contractors (Securitas), budget crises, and a buffoon Trib writer acting barking about skip-stop service like it was sliced bread, among other things. Yet all we seem to talk about is young punks with iPods, a deficit of seat-offering, peppered with the occasional north-side vs. south-side rivalries.

I'm glad so many people are willing to go to bat for social courtesy, but the cacophony of alternatingly priggish and boorish voices makes me wonder if the Tattler is really a forum about the CTA or merely a sounding board for anyone with a pet peeve to get off their chest.


Ageism was not my intent. When I posted, “all young men and women”, I was including my self in that grouping. I am thirty-four years old, and consider myself to be a young man. You stated you are twenty-one, so I would consider you a young man. I consider all of my peers to be young. You, on the other hand may consider me to be old. From a 5 years old’s point of view, I am old. It’s all in how you look at it. I’m a firm believer in the statement, “You may have to grow old; but you don’t have to grow up!”

All of us should be accountable for our behavior and the treatment of others in our daily interactions with the world at large; no matter the age, race, sex, etc…

Yeah, Adam. I could have waited on the platform beyond 6:30 p.m. and eventually a train with a empty seat would have come along. I had worked all day and I just wanted to go home. (I was in labor 2 hours later.)

It was one of those Spring days when only about 5 of us were standing in the car. Sure, I was only about 5 stops from an empty seat as the train emptied out in the more residential neighborhoods but jeesh, it just seems like it should be common courtesy to give up one's seat for someone who is very obviously pregnant.

Ron, no one is a mind reader which is why one who *has* something to offer makes the offer to the one who is without.

Don't make the elderly, disabled, pregnant women and small kids into beggers. That is degrading.

A decent person of any gender offers a seat to one who can not stand easily.

Well, Maureen, I think I said this before, not sure though, so, for clarification: I definitely would give up my seat (or I'm pretty sure I would), just this entire issue bugs the hell out of me.

Pyrotech, I'm glad you clarified. I still definitely disagree with this whole iPod/PSP/etc., BS though. I'm very grateful for my "SLVR" phone that has iTunes built into it. It makes many a train ride go quicker, whether it be the L, or when I use Amtrak. As stated in a different post, yes, it is annoying when they "blast" them, however, I think maybe everyone should just get an iPod, then they can listen to music too, instead of bitch about people whose music is too loud. And if someone doesn't like music... damn, I can't imagine that life.

But yeah, on a different note about the volume of their music; people really shouldnt listen to them that loud... if they want to hear anything when they get older... like... say, Pyrotech's age.. (just a joke haha)

If you don't have an obvious handicap, or are old or pregnant, why should I give up my seat? Frankly, if you have a three year old kid that you can't keep control of, the kid shouldn't be riding the L.
If someone ASKED, sure, I'd give up my seat. But I see mothers with kids all the time, and most of the time the little buggers are bouncing off the walls and the parents don't care less.

Jacques, who said she can't control her kid? The woman who posted the "thank you" said that her child is well behaved. However, if she has been traveling for 2 years with a child who is now age 3, then she had this little one on the train at age 1 and age 2 and no child of that age should be holding on and standing up. Most one year olds weigh 20 pounds or more, most 2 year olds weigh more than 25 pounds - that's a big, bulky, difficult thing to carry on a moving train along with diaper bag, etc. A toddler in the arms of someone standing on a train is at great risk if the train lurches and the child falls to the ground.

How we treat the most vulnerable of our society tells a lot about us as a society.

One seat should suffice. As they used to say in NY: "Small enough to ride for free, small enough to ride on your knee."

Any decent person of either gender will offer a seat *without being asked* to a person who can not stand easily.

I don't believe that any man should give up a seat to any woman but children too young to stand and hold on should have first dibs on seats, IMHO.

So you go on and on about some construction on the north side train lines, but you completely ignore the south side?

out of left field comes fernando..

i'm confused.

I give up my seat all the time for pregnant women, elderly, mentally/physically challenged, and even occasionally, someone who is carrying lots of bags and or a large box. But I won't give up my seat for kids, although I might do so if the child is 3 or younger. At some point, the kid's parent made a conscious decision to board a crowded bus with her child, and I don't think it's right for her to expect other people to give up their seats for her kid.

Every now and again I get random anxiety that makes standing on the el, pressed against others, very difficult (dizziness, hyperventilating, freaking out difficult as opposed to the usual "I wish your butt wasn't rubbing against me" difficult).

If I feel a little weird in the morning while I'm getting ready, I leave the house 20 minutes early so that I can wait for a train with empty seats. If it happens midway to work I hop off the train, find another route to work, and call to say that I'm going to be a little late.

I figure that non-priority seats are first come, first serve and it's my responsibility to change my schedule to cater to my needs rather than expecting others to do so for me.

To add another perspective and another problem to add to nile's list, consider the pitiful level of access that riders with disabilites have to the trains. If you're a rider who uses a wheelchair or some other impairment that prohibits you from climbing the stairs, you can't even get on the train. Even the few elevators there are in the system are often broken down.

Imagine only being able to travel to a few stops when everyone else gets to enter and leave wherever they'd like: Second-class citizenship.

Many riders would be happy having free access to the trains, are vocal to the CTA about it, but feel like we're talking to a wall. We could stew about it and only talk amongst ourselves in blogs, but we don't. So I'm unsympathetic when some pregnant woman can't muster the breath to ask for a seat thinks that she automatically deserves it.

I avoid the "priorty" seats if I can -- but if I'm in one, I don't stare at everyone who boards the train and judge whether they need to sit or not. If you need a seat, a simple "excuse me, may I sit down" to the person sitting is very easy and appropriate. It's not begging, it's getting someone's attention.

In fact, I often board crowded trains, and when I squeeze my way to the middle, there will be someone with a backpack or shopping bag next to them, or someone sitting solo on the aisle, that everyone else is shooting looks at. I almost always say "excuse me, may I sit down," and repeat it once if they don't hear me, and I have NEVER been refused. The person usually shifts their stuff without looking up. I don't understand why people get so worked up over it.

Niles: You've got it backwards, my man.

Courtesy IS in my top five issues with the CTA. In my opinion, it is what makes the difference between a commute that adds to my stress level and one that alleviates it.

Construction, delays, incompetent leadership, dirty stations will always be a part of the CTA experience. There's nothing we can do about it until one of us that follows this blog is installed as CTA president (fingers crossed). What we CAN do something about is the lack of common courtesy that exists on trains and buses.

Haven't you ever had a stressful day that was made worse by rude, obnoxious people on your commute home? And visa versa. I've had terrible days at work, but a wonderful ride home (due largely to some unsolicited courtesy extended my way) that made my day seem not so bad, in retrospect.

There's so many issues that contribute to a stress-filled commute that we have no control over. Why can't we do something about the issues that we DO have control over?

A war on rudeness, eh?

That sounds about as winnable as a war on terrorism.

Overhauling an agency is a helluva lot likelier than overhauling the people of Chicago. I think you overestimate the ability of people to change.

Your excuse is the reason why Frank Kreusi and Dick Daley can write off all the problems with the CTA. The CTA isn't clean...it's the rider's fault. The CTA is late...also the rider's fault. Yeah right.

When people compare the CTA to transit systems in other cities, they'll almost always say how bad the CTA is in comparison. But with your line of reasoning, it isn't the CTA that's bad, it's the people who ride it.

I whole-heartedly disagree. Some riders may be too rude to give up their seat or too scared to ask for a seat, but by-and-large the people in this city are kind, helpful, and are unfortunately at the mercy of a terrible transit system.

For those still involved in this obnoxious debate who have not figured out how to get one of those coveted seats, I encourage you to read Cheryl's post from today:


Way to go Cheryl. THAT is how you get what you want. None of those passive-aggressive glares some of you like to shoot around.

I'm sorry Ladies, but if you're still expecting men to offer their seats, hold doors, or the many other "old fashion" traditions that still exist, GET A LIFE! This is not Gone With the Wind and I'm not Ret Butler and your not Scarlet O'Hara, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Women have fought way to hard for hundreds of years to get the same rights and privileges as men. Do you really want to be treated differently? If this is the case sure, work for lower wages, continue to be passed up for that promotion, and while your at it, stay out of the military. Don't get me wrong here I support womens rights 100%. In fact I'm rutting on Hillary for President 2008! But nothing up-sets me more then when a woman pulls the "I'm a woman card" just to be treated differently. I will continue to offer my seat to the elderly (regardless of gender), and I never let a door slam into anyones face (regardless of gender). If a expecting mother boards the train or bus, I will continue to offer up my seat. But hell if I'm going to treat a woman any differently than any other person!

I have to agree with Cody. I give up my seat whenever I see someone who needs it more than me. It's just common courtesy. And I'm all about Karma...if I refuse to give up my seat today someone will do the same to me when I really, really need one.

Courtesy is ALL of your top five issues?!

Man, you're obsessed (in a bad way).

I am the mother who posted the original message and I just wanted to clarify a few things.

My main reason for the post was really to thank all of those fellow CTA riders who willing gave up their seats for us. Maybe I should not have pointed out the gender specific point, I just find it funny that it is almost always the female gender who offers. I think it is mostly becuase they empathize with me on how hard it is to juggle everything.

I am not saying the male gender is rude or anything of the sort. In fact I know many very kind and generous males who would most likely give up their seats, it could be that the women just beat the men to it and offer before they have a chance to offer themselves.

When I started bringing her on a the train it wasn't as bad as she was light and it was easy to hold her. I try and travel light because it is just too hard to carry everything with a child. Now that she is 3 and over 40 lbs, to have to hold her for 45 minutes on the train, would be excruiting. I tried having her stand, but as you all know the train is not smooth and even the steadiest tend to go flying occasionally.

If I am offered a seat, she always sits on my lap never her own seat unless their are plenty to go around. I would give her the seat and stand if I could, but she won't sit next to a stranger without me.

I apologize if I offended many of the male gender that was not my intention, my intention was to thank those of you who were kind enough to offer me and my small child a seat on sometimes scary train rides.

By the way my daughter is very well behaved and sits in the seat and does not bounce all over. That is something I have worked on since we started riding the train, as it scares the hell out me that she may go flying at some point.

"I will agree for the most part that chivalry is dead"

ehhh. that is annoying. the primary/orginal definition of chivalry were the qualifications of knight, which yes, included things such as courtesy and generosity, but also "dexterity in arms" and ability to battle with swords.

wahh wahhh chivalry's dead... wah wah i want the same rights as men but when it comes to a seat i should get one first/one should be offered to me. whats up with women wanting equal rights, and for some reason believing they are stronger than men (simple biological fact that they arent) yet they constantly brag their supposed higher pain tolerance, all the while thinking they deserve seats over us?

i dont get it. either get your rights and quit bitching about men not being prince charming or quit whining about rights and expect prince charming. one or the other.

AL: i don't think most of the/our outcry was because of what YOU said, it is more what the blogger commented about what you had said. i'm sure statistically speaking you are correct in that many women gave up their seats compared with guys, however its just simply annoying how men are all categorized into being a big group of pigs that never care. (once again, not saying that YOU said that)

my solution to this entire problem? i'm not having kids. period. (solves lots of other problems too)

Just one more thing- I do not expect the seat because I am a woman, it is simply a nice gesture when someone else offers me a seat when they see me with my child.

I always offer my seat if I am traveling alone to anyone (man or woman) who has a small child, the elderly, the disabled, and the pregnant. I feel it is the courtous thing to do. Not mandatory, nor expected, but just a nice thing to do for our fellow commuters who have a tougher situation.

I would never expect anyone to give up their seat for me because I am a woman.

Just one more thing- I do not expect the seat because I am a woman, it is simply a nice gesture when someone else offers me a seat when they see me with my child.

I always offer my seat if I am traveling alone to anyone (man or woman) who has a small child, the elderly, the disabled, and the pregnant. I feel it is the courtous thing to do. Not mandatory, nor expected, but just a nice thing to do for our fellow commuters who have a tougher situation.

I would never expect anyone to give up their seat for me because I am a woman.

See, women want it both ways. They want to be considered equal as men, but they don't want equality. They want the jobs and the pay, but they don't want the risks.

When women are required, by law, to enlist in the draft then I say they are equal. When they don't expect men to get up for them, then I say they are equal.

You can't have chivalry and equality as chivalry came into existing with the belief that women are inferior to men.

Joe & Adam:

Dudes, you must not get much reading light in that cave you both share.

Adam: Definition of feminism (from Dictionary.com) - "the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men." Says women should have equal RIGHTS not that they are equal with men in all things. Just as men are not equal with women in all things. There is no universal yard-stick to measure both sexes. Men are built for different things than women are built for. The concept of feminism, as it was originally developed, was to give equal RIGHTS & OPPORTUNITIES to both men and women. Guess your Philosophy 102 prof. was a bit confused, eh?

Joe: Wow. Haven't had much luck lately, eh? You sound a little bitter, bro. CHIVALRY (defined by American Heritage Dictionary) "The qualities idealized by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women." There is no mention of treating women as less than men or that they are inferior. Just treating them with honor, etc.

Jeez, these websites are free. You can look up these definitions before you post, if you don't like putting your feet in your mouths..

Joe, did you even read AL's last few posts? We don't want your seat because we're women. Most of us are perfectly willing and able to stand. I generally refuse to take the seat if it's offered because I don't mind standing. I offer my seat to anyone who doesn't look like they should be standing--the elderly (both genders), pregnant women, small children, MEN with small children. I also hold open doors for everyone. Because that's the way I want to be treated.

ADAdvocate: Here is what I posted. You can read the original above.

"Courtesy IS in my top five issues with the CTA."

Do you see it? "IS in"? Courtesy is not ALL of my top 5 issues. It "is in" my top 5.

Hard to see those prepositions sometimes, huh?

Of course thats what the dictionary says. I am not speaking of the definition of the word. I am speaking of the social concepts behind its inception as it relates directly to the treatment of the female sex. Not the definition we now place upon it. Nor its use in the other conducts of knighthood.

Men opened doors for women because women were viewed as weak and incapable of doing such things without injury. The same is for standing up for a woman, etc. Also the thoughts that women were not intelligent enough to think on their own, ie: ordering food for them. Nor capable of sustaining themselves monetarily. Hence why men pay for everything.

I have nothing against women. I can and do give up my seat, but when i choose. Not simply because someone is a woman. My comments are based off of my opinions garnered through research of my own and that of others.

And as far as the gotten any comment. Thats more neanderthal-esque, as your cave comment implies, than anything I said. And, yes, I am bitter that I am forced to register for a draft and to be possibly forced into a war that I do not believe in and women, who want the same job as me or the same pay, are not.


I did not ever say I do not give up my seat for children or the elderly. I was speaking directly against the concept of havign to do it for women. I believe in equality of the sexes. I don't believe in the golden rule. I treat all people better than I would ever expect to be treated in return, but that is due to my cynical view of people.

I think I just realized the real reason for the expansion of the brown line to handle 8-car trains. It's so we can have separate-but-equal cars for all of the groups regularily identified on this blog. I.e. there will be one car each for: 1) Pregnant women & women with children, 2) seniors 3) suburbanites 4) drunk sox/cubs fans, 5) teenagers, 6) homeless / druggies, 7) YUP'S w/ iPods, & 8) everyone else (if there are any left). Think of the reduced stress levels if none of these groups have to mix with each other!

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