If there’s one gripe almost all pregnant women who use public transit can agree on, it’s the daily battle to get a seat. Recently, writer Brydie Lee-Kennedy posted a tweet that shared how she, at eight months pregnant, lost all ability to care about social decorum while on a bus in London.
“Well it finally happened in my 8th month of pregnancy, I just sat on a man’s hand and bag when he wouldn’t move them off the last spare seat on the bus,” she tweeted. “We’re now sharing a very quiet ride.”
If you’re wondering why she didn’t just ask him to move, you’ve clearly never been pregnant.
It’s supposed to be an unwritten rule that the able-bodied cede seats on buses and trains to elderly, disabled, and pregnant transit riders. In many places, it’s a written and enforced rule. However, if you’ve ever been in one of those categories, you know all too well how few people are willing to obey this rule, no matter how young, healthy, and un-pregnant (read: male) they are.
Brydie’s tweet inspired hundreds of responses from pregnant women and those who’ve been pregnant in the past. The stories are enough to make even the laziest among us immediately jump up from our seats when we see an expecting individual approach a bus.
Try Not to Get Puked On
“When I was about 4 months pregnant I asked a man if I could have his seat on the train and I felt really sick as I was pregnant,” wrote one Twitter user. “He said ‘well, you want equality, you can stand.’ I threw up on him. And his newspaper. And his laptop bag. The look of shock on his face was gratifying.”
She wasn’t the only one to use vomit to make her point.
“But once a teenager whom I asked for the seat just answered ‘no,'” wrote Katharina Schwarzer. “‘Well, ok. I often get sick at the moment because of my pregnancy. I’ll keep standing next to you, and I’m above you and you’re beneath me. Enjoy.’ I got the seat.”
If the threat of being puked on won’t move you, nothing will. But if you behave like some people on public transit, you might deserve it.
“When I was 7 months pregnant a guy literally shoved me aside to race past me to the last seat,” wrote @Quannoi.
Some people apparently need additional encouragement to be polite.
“I told a man when I was 8 months pregnant that I was going to give birth on his feet if he didn’t let me sit down on the bus,” said Jill Pritts. “He got up.”
Stand Up for Pregnant Women
Others had stories about pregnant solidarity.
“Sitting on a packed LUAS, 4 mths pg,” wrote Pat Neville. “A heavily pregnant woman got on. No one offered her a seat. My stop was next. As I stood I could see men eyeing up my seat and the pg woman looking resigned. I called out: this seat is for you. Dirty looks from men, grateful smile from woman.”
It’s absurd that pregnant women should have to give up their seats to other pregnant women because men won’t move. However, Pat was far from alone in her experience in witnessing men act like selfish jerks.
“I gave up my seat on a very packed tram for a pregnant woman who was exhausted and close to tears,” wrote @ZBSimpson. “As soon as I stood a bloke took the seat and I turned around and said ‘Oi! Get up! That seat isn’t for you!’ He was so startled at being called out he stood up and sidled away.”
There are, however, some men who will stand up for the pregnant people out there.
“Many years ago I got on a bus with new baby in papoose, & 6 heavy carrier bags. No seats so I stayed standing,” said Professor Liz Atkins. “The bus drove 50yds & stopped, the driver stood up & shouted ‘is no one going to offer this lady with a baby a seat?!'”
Unfortunately, even after being called out, the men on that bus were a letdown.
“An elderly woman stood. All the men remained seated.”
Maybe that bus driver just needed a biker jacket.
“I saw a guy do the same on a tube train,” tweeted Kelvin Rodrigues. “He couldn’t have looked more intimidating if he tried (think angry Hell’s Angel). He saw no one move for a very pregnant woman & bellowed down the carriage (which one of you a-holes is gonna let her sit) & at least half a dozen jumped up.”
Your Laziness Could Cause a Miscarriage
This isn’t just an issue of common courtesy. While many of these stories are funny, allowing pregnant women to sit on public transit is a serious issue. You’re much more likely to fall if you’re standing on a bus or subway car, and women in their second or third trimester are encouraged to immediately get checked by a doctor if they fall down.
Pregnancy is also a huge stress on the body, and not every woman has the luxury of being able to stop working or pay for private transportation when she’s expecting. Too much physical stress while pregnant can cause complications that are dangerous to both mother and baby. So if you’re not pregnant, disabled, or elderly, move your butt!
Why Are People Like This?
In spite of these facts, and the many, many women sharing similar stories, some men have decided to respond to Brydie’s original tweet with harassment and hate. Many are, bizarrely, accusing her of lying.
Do we need to get a Hell’s Angel to tell these men to shut up and mind their business? If you don’t want to share seats with the people who really need it, guys, then do us all a favor and drive yourself to work. Don’t make public transit worse than it already is.