The Other Side of the Gender Debate

When people don’t offer seats to pregnant women on buses and trains, I really wish they would rot in hell.

Since 2007 I’ve been travelling in buses and trains practically everyday including on most Sundays. I often marvel at how women don’t offer seats to pregnant women, while they “book seats” as soon as they walk into the compartment.

The other day I offered my seat to a lady with toddler in tow. While she sat and thanked me, another one told me why did I get up. “If she’s has a young kid, then she should take an auto.”

I’ve read and participated in many debates and discussions regarding women in public spaces and what “etiquette” one applies in these situations. However nothing prepared me for a sixteen year old kid’s response yesterday.

If you’ve travelled by buses in Mumbai, you know that the “reserved” seats are quite prominent on the buses. Seats where women must be given preference to sit. These “reserved seats” are a bone of contention between many a lady and men who travel regularly. The two most extreme situations I’ve seen are that of a college girl asking a senior citizen to get up because it was a “ladies” seat and another when men stand in a relatively empty bus because the only available seats are “ladies” ones. I was quite taken aback at the first incident and mildly amused at the second.

Coming back to yesterday’s bus ride, I was comfortably standing in the bus after I sat for a solid hour in the train. I was probably the only woman standing and strangely enough, a boy got up to offer me his seat. On my repeated refusals, he just said “Baith jao. Gardi mein kisika dhakka lag gaya toh molestation ka charge daal doge”. (Sit down. If someone pushes in the crowd, you’ll file a molestation case.) And smiled.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of it. Are we really putting the fear of the public or “mob” in men of this country or is this how it’s going to be now? Every woman gets offered a seat (read as unwanted chivalry) so that a Dowry-esque accusation doesn’t get filed against the men?

I’m still pondering on what to make of it. Any ideas?


8 thoughts on “The Other Side of the Gender Debate

  1. >Baith jao. Gardi mein kisika dhakka lag gaya toh molestation ka charge daal doge
    There is anguish in this statement and he is probably mocking you. He’s talking about the over-the-top reactions that you sometimes get when you accidentally bump a woman in a bus. Not that every woman does it, but when she does, it is quite embarrassing for the guy. So they really, really dread it if they are the good guys who don’t indulge in eve-teasing.
    The sad fact of this ‘compulsory’ chivalry is that it has created a mindset that women ‘need’ it. If women ‘want’ it they should have the option to take it, but this mindset doesn’t allow that kind of choice. Not to women and especially not to men, because if they don’t offer seats, they will be considered to be rude and if they do and get a polite refusal, it makes them look like overzealous fools.
    That’s why he made that wry comment (or so I think).


  2. I have just one line for you…
    You really do over think I am just amazed at the thought process people put in for a small incident in their lives. Just wondering if the energy could be channelized for a more productive cause. You write for self perception but maybe you should stop over thinking.. chillax a little. And maybe in this case just acknowledge that somebody hit on you on the bus with a chivalrous one liner. Smile and move on )


  3. Well the comment was completely unnecessary! He could have just insisted by saying that the bus could get crowded later on. But he added the last molestation bit. So I agree with Aamil; there was anguish in the “forced” chivalry. And he was definitely not hitting on you!
    As to your response, you could have declined the offer, making it clear that you are doing so only because you disliked the way it was offered!


  4. To be honest, I honestly find that comment to be nothing more than thinly veiled chauvinism. Probably the only reason he did offer you a seat was so that he could justify his ‘Women wil cry rape for any reason’ to himself. As a society, we feel ‘being liberal’ means showing to women that ‘Hey look! I am a man, I will offer you a seat, not because I am being chivalrous, but because I am the strong one who bears the brunt of being a bread winner so that I can buy the bread with which you can make me a sandwich’ Kinda sad, but true. Good observation btw Utkarsha!


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