Women open letter Opinion feminism gender equality

To The Women I Travel With Everyday, This Is What You Can Learn From The Men

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

To the ladies I travel with everyday,

I am one of you. I spend almost 4 hours a day with you in the metro. Not a day passes when I don’t cringe at your insensitivity. It hurts me to see where we are headed as a generation of supposedly ”strong, independent women”.

One thing I have learnt in these 6 months of regularly travelling by metro is that one should not judge people based on how irritable they are during the journey because you never know what kind of a day they must have had at work, or wherever they are coming from. So, I make it a point to be nice to everyone I see on my way to work and back.

But what pushes my buttons is the level of insensitivity I see in most of you. I get that you are tired or you may have had a really bad day at work, but do you really think that gives you the right to not give your seat to someone who needs it more than you, even when you have shamelessly occupied the seats reserved for them? Let me correct myself here - the seat was never yours! If you, by any chance, occupy a seat reserved for senior citizens or physically challenged, you MUST get up when someone who fits into that category boards the coach.

I fail to understand how you need that seat more than a pregnant woman, an old lady or a physically handicapped person. Should you not be grateful that you are healthy and can help a fellow human being?

I guess empathy has become a really rare emotion these days. Do you ever imagine how it’d feel when some day you would be in their shoes? How would you feel when someone takes a seat reserved for you and has the audacity to refuse to give it to you even after being asked to?

Oh wait! You guys already have been in such situations when you travel in the general coach. And what do you do to the men who occupy the seats reserved for you? You humiliate them and make them get up. (I do not think this is right either, more on that later) 

Even if there weren’t any reserved seats for the old /physically challenged, shouldn’t you be giving your seats to those who need it more than you do? Isn’t that humanity? Can you not feel their pain? I fail to understand.

If this is what education and empowerment has done to you , then it’s a shame.

I once saw a blind man entering the coach and then a woman refusing to give her seat to him. No, it wasn’t a reserved seat for him. But the rightfully reserved seat was very far from where he boarded. The woman argued that the man should walk till ”his” seat in the overly crowded metro. I couldn’t take how insanely insensitive she was. Even though I made sure she gave the seat to the man, it deeply shocked me to see that no one else volunteered to give him their seat amidst all the shouting and chaos. Instead, the blind man said, "Rehne dijiye madam, wo thaki hongi, do station ki baat hai. Main manage Kar loonga.”

Who really is handicapped here? The man? Or the woman who refused to give up her seat or all those women who chose to sit back and enjoy the show? I was disappointed to see that the woman was accompanied by her son and he witnessed all of this. Now what is he going to learn from the whole episode? That all you should ever think about is your comfort? That people who take a stand for others are secretly made fun of and are left on their own? I don’t think that’s how the kids today should be brought up. We cannot afford that right now. We are in dire need of compassionate, empathetic human beings. Amidst all the war and hatred for each other that is so prevalent today, only well bred citizens of tomorrow can make the days to come better.

Men! Pat yourself on the back. You guys are genuinely more generous and courteous than most women in the metro. Now, I am not saying that all men are supremely generous and compassionate or that every woman is insensitive.

But as a person who covers one third of her journey in the general coach, I can say that I see more humanity among fellow passengers when I travel in the general coach. 

I do not believe that men should give their seats to women to prove their chivalry because I don’t impose gender equality to suit my convenience. Both men and women should give their seats to whoever needs it more than them. That’s equality. That’s empathy. That’s what the world needs today. 

In my opinion, the world would qualify as a place equal for all only when even if there are no reserved seats, every one of us is compassionate and considerate enough to bear a little bit of inconvenience for those whose lives aren’t as easy as ours. 

I would like to add that about an year and a half ago, I was ignorant too. I thought that I had the supreme right on the ladies seats in the general coaches, no matter what. But now I look at it from a very different perspective. The seat belongs to whoever needs it more.

I don’t bother to make anyone occupying the seats reserved for ladies leave it for me. Even if they offer it, I politely refuse. Because if I want to be treated and paid equally at my work place as any male employee sharing the same job role as mine, I SHOULD accept being treated as equal on my way to or way back from work too. That’s feminism.

Ladies let’s stop using feminism to suit our convenience. Let’s not abuse it.

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