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Is a man giving up his seat to a woman on a train or bus an outdated form of respect?

48 Comments

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It has nothing to do with respect, it is basic common courtesy.

14 ( +20 / -6 )

I remember one American woman getting angry at me for holding the door open for her after I had already passed through it. She was right behind me, so I held the door open for her, just as I would have had she been a he. She let me have it about being able to open the door without my help, so I apologized, shut the door and a second later she opened it and went through. Weird.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

It makes me feel good. I'll continue for as long as I can still stand up without aid.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Day one on my new job in Japan we went out to lunch. As we reached the building door I held open the door for the women. They stopped (probably wondering what I was doing) while the rest of my male colleagues walked through. I have offered my seat on a bus or train to older women on numerous occasions. Most times they take it and thank me but a often smile and decline the offer.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

If I see someone that needs the seat more than I do, I give it to them regardless of sex, age or anything else.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

It has nothing to do with respect, it is basic common courtesy.

Nope. It's good manners.

Geoff and Baibaikin -- spot on. Which is why it is so seldom done by Japanese men.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

One of the good things about living in Kyushu is the respect everyone has for the "silver seats". They're always left empty, even on the most crowded trains.

The difference in Honshu is very noticeable.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

an outdated form of respect?

When did showing respect for fellow human beings become outdated?

Yes, it's a sign of respect. It's a way of saying, "Hey, friend, I may have had a hard day today, but I acknowledge that maybe yours was harder. If you'd like, take a load off and relax for this briefest of commutes. No, it doesn't inconvenience me. No, I expect nothing in return. No, I'm not saying I'm stronger, or better, or nobler than you. I'm simply saying I'm perfectly willing to carry a little bit of the load if it makes you, a perfect stranger, feel a little better about your day."

"And hey, if you've had a great day anyway, just think of this small gesture as extra icing on the cake. "

Anyone who takes such a gesture as more or less than that needs to reavaluate their self-worth.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

No.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

I do it out of courtesy. That's how I was raised! Occasionally there will be a lady in heels that looks like she's struggling to stand (my train line is pretty nuts), so I do not hesitate to surrender my seat. I also don't mind if there's a couple and they want to sit together.

I would do the same in any country.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

No. I think that the passing of courtesy and consideration for others is a desperate loss to our society.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Give up your seat to those who look more in need of it and I don't mean hammered salarymen or women silly enough to wear 10cm heels or those ridiculous platform shoes which I see are making a comeback. Male or female is irrelevant.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The fact that there is even a debate about this shows how far society has fallen.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Nope. It's good manners. However, I've had the evil eye on a number of occasions when I gave up my seat on crowded trains for women who I thought were pregnant, but were actually just a bit podgy around the midriff or wearing maternityesque clothing. Those incidents all made me question the validity of my chivalry in Tokyo, where the attitude seems to be 'if I don't know you, you aren't there'.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

women in general dont need it. Pregnant and elderly do. Neither groups get seats on Japanese public transport...

4 ( +7 / -3 )

women in general dont need it. Pregnant and elderly do. Neither groups get seats on Japanese public transport...

Yes they do and they are clearly marked. However, they are often abused and used by the young and/or able-bodied when needed by pregnant, elderly etc.: that is a different issue.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I do it all the time... I see nothing outdated about giving up a seat to a woman. Common courtesy.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This question is completely phrased wrong. It should be: "Is giving up your seat to a person who needs it an outdated form of respect?" Answer: No, it's not.

I would never give up my seat to a person who does not need it. If I see an elderly person or someone who needs to sit then I will always give my seat up to them. I'll also help them cross the street, get up stairs, and carry bags if they need it. I also hold the door for everyone, man or woman, because that IS common courtesy.

It is sad to see the selfish people here who won't hold the door or give up their seat and they try and justify it by saying "Its sexist to do it and I am better than you for not doing it and being a jerk to my fellow humans".

And yes I have rarely seen a Japanese person(in Kanto and Kyoto) hold the door for anyone, give up their seat for people who need it or help carry bags. I was on crutches and even asked the person to move(in Japanese) and was ignored. Elderly lady screaming at the station for someone to help her carry her bags down the stairs and no Japanese helped. Instead three foreigners, including me, helped her. The lack of common courtesy here is appalling.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The question is whether it's an outdated form of respect, or not. The question is not is it good manners, or should you do it, or under what circumstances. The question isn't who's doing it, and who's not.

It's not even a question of courtesy; respect does not equal courtesy, nor vice versa.

Despite what one might choose to believe or practice, it IS an outdated form of respect. History of social psychology.

That has no bearing on whether, or not it's still practiced. Nor does it say anything about continuing the practice. It makes no comment on the nature of those who do, or do not engage. It is what it is.

As a courtesy, this practice certainly isn't outdated, particularly when the beneficiary is burdened, or somehow put out. Courtesy is never out of date.

But practicing this deference as an expression of respect alone without any further qualification, done simply because she's a woman, and nothing more - that's outdated.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I don't know. I think offering your seat for a pregnant woman, or an elderly person, man or woman, is courteous. I think giving it up for a woman who is not pregnant, crippled, or elderly is a bit over the top these days, and is possibly insulting or just odd to some. That said, most people would accept it in the spirit it was given, and just say thanks, rather than psychoanalyze your intent.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@LFRAgain

Your post makes me feel there are STILL a few decent human beings around ! If only a few more people thought like you ! I'm sure the world would be a MUCH happier place !

3 ( +3 / -0 )

i'd like to see how most japanese people would answer this question. i've seen so many lazy, ignorant and ill-mannered people on the train who sit in the "silver seats" when they are perfectly capable of standing. and it really infuriates me when they don't move or give up the seat to pregnant or older women.

my japanese wife is pregnant and the only people who give up their seat for her are gaijin men and women (usually middle-aged but sometimes high school girls). a japanese guy?!?! not in this lifetime.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Personally, I rarely give up my seat just because there is a woman standing but I always give up my seat for elderly, pregnant woman, injured or handicapped. Also, I will hold a door open for anyone who is behind me, it doesn't matter what their gender is. Having common curtesy is not an inconvenience or troublesome, it's just the way I was raised.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I commute in London and always give up my seat for someone pregnant, elderly or unable to stand (in London, the tube company gives out ‘Baby on Board’ badges for pregnant women so people don’t have to guess and potential cause embarrassment by offering a seat to someone who looks pregnant but isn’t). However, I have found that many times when giving my seat up to a pregnant lady, I rarely get a thank or even an acknowledgment. Definitely some of them feel a sense of entitlement – so yes, I would say common courtesy can be lacking…but not in those offering their seats.

In Japan, I’ve offered my seat to elderly men and women and only about half the time was this accepted, when it was it was done with lots of gratitude. Holding doors open is an odd one, in the UK this is normal but I tend to get strange looks when I do it in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

lucabrasi 9:25 AM JST - I noticed the same thing living in Kumamoto for many years. Different sort of folks in Kyushu.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I regularly give up my seats to kids and the kids look happy and the parents look happy.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It seems that there are two camps here - those that view it in light of their upbringing and the society they live/lived in and see it as a common courtesy. On the other hand there are those that that are (perhaps?) more objective and view giving up seats to able bodied females but not able bodies males as sexism (nobody so far has tried to argue its not sexist..)

I dont think anybody denies that giving up seats to the inform, aged, pregnant or otherwise disadvantaged is common courtesy.

At the end of the day, its a matter for the person giving up the seat.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Fact: A man has average three times the upper body strength of women.

So if I see a woman with a heavy load, I would give my seat up for her. Same goes for old men, old women, the disabled, etc. Also parents with kids I give priority. However they use the seat is up to them. They got kids to contend with so whatever floats their boat.

Also, giving up your seat to a young woman may save her from a groping.

And while I do not expect to have adoration heaped on me for such acts, those who disrespect my acts of generosity can kiss my hairy white tush. I might hold the door open for anybody, so don't get all bent out of shape thinking you are special. Some doors can swing out with surprising speed and smack you right in the face, and I may hold the door for you just to be sure that does not happen. I have nearly had this happen to me, so you can hold the door for me next time.

More respect and kindness in the world would be a good thing. And giving up seats and holding doors is never a sign of disrespect or cruelty, and again, those who take offense can pucker up!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I still do it when warranted.If she has bags,holding a baby or aged,I offer and that's fine.I hate when parents stand and let the lil' brats sit.How bout you sit and put them on your lap? Particularly as the kids are free til elementary skool.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I was just thinking men would generally give up their seats esp for young women and stand. Just imagine the chance of looking at the low necklines of the women around. Tall guys have all the break! Sigh!!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

just because someone is a woman it doesn't mean a man has to give up his seat for her. i'm a woman and i often prefer to stand (unless i am super tired) because my skirt/pants get wrinkly lol

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wouldn't be able to take a train if I wanted to, I have a bad leg that won't even carry me to the station ! Luckily I can usually work from home (bless the Internet !) however, I was extremely touched (when I was pregnant, a couple of centuries ago...) to see two young gentlemen get up to give me their seat (but that was in the Kansai area).

To answer the question : NO ! I agree with all who say : it's common courtesy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why should I give up my seat to a healthy young woman? Elderly, sick, or pregnant, that is of course a different story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I am with Jimizo, basically automatic for me to offer a seat or hold a door open to people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@iLikeTurtles

by offering a seat to someone who looks pregnant but isn’t)

I had the opposite problem... I was VERY pregnant but it hardly showed... Feeling a little tired from standing in the train one day, I tried to make my stomach stick out and that's when two young Japanese gentlemen offered me their seat.

I usually hold the doors of elevators open to let people off before getting off myself and they DO seem to appreciate it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I recently found myself in Dubai ( again ) & low & behold, a Japanese guy and his wife were on the train with their two kids. Initally, I didn't see them, so I was in my seat but when I saw HIM, and. then the kids with MOM, I said LOUD, in Japanese, " Oaksama, Oi' de'; swate' swate' ;..and the kids came over with mom....Mom looked RELIEVED, and the kids seemed to start enjoying the ride after that. Needless to say, there were looks from all overt he car after that...lol..

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Would you give up your seat to an able-bodied man?

If not, then why to an able-bodied woman?

Unless you happen to believe that women are somehow less capable of standing than men, somehow weaker.

0 ( +10 / -10 )

Yes it is outdated.

Able bodied women are no more deserving of a seat than able bodied men. Giving up a seat should be based on need only.

I try my best to treat everyone equally, regardless of sex or race etc. I also try to be polite, which giving up a seat when its necessary (sick, pregnant women, old) and holding doors for everyone.

I dont see how everyone can be equal and yet at the same time men are expected to treat women better without any reason (age, pregnancy etc..)

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Would you give up your seat to an able-bodied man? If not, then why to an able-bodied woman?

Giving up a seat to a woman doesn't depend on the body's ability but the body's attraction. I guess I'm a pig, thumbs down to me.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's a daily sight to see, young kids sitting in the silver seats using their cell phones, old people standing as there aren't any vacant seats, people pretending they are asleep so they don't have to give their seats away! Basically, the thinking here is always - SOMEBODY ELSE will do it!!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Yes, unless they all are wearing steampunk costumes.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I really don't feel that there is any reason to give up your seat for anyone spare those who would normally use priority seats, but can't due to them being full.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Healthy and able-bodied women do not need a seat. The elderly (man or woman) and pregnant women though, it would be kind and polite to offer. The idea that a man "has" to give his seat to a woman is outdated - and makes us appear the weaker sex. I will hold doors open for anyone, offer my seat up to anyone who looks like they may need it - male, female, the elderly, kids... It's just the polite thing to do. Shame very few folks here "get" it though.

I was recently on the train and saw a pregnant women standing in front of the silver seats. Old biddy on the seats had her shopping ON the empty seat and didn't move it. Wanted to slap her. Was also in a doctor's office in the mat waiting area and saw numerous pregnant women standing while the mothers (not all that old) and husband's sitting. No one bothered to get off their behind and offer these women a seat. Disgusting behaviour in my books. My husband would have his ears boxed for that - not that he would need them as he would stand and offer up his seat. My mother the same. I stood of course.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

a japanese guy?!?! not in this lifetime.

Interesting. I find the old Japanese women and young Japanese women the worst. I have had guys give up their seat for me and have seen younger guys give up their seat for the elderly. A woman? Not that I can recall. Entitlement issues perhaps?

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I give up my seat to older women (and men). You should know that it is deemed impolite in Japan to accept something offered to you too quickly. So, sometimes you really have to try hard to give your seat away. Also, I give my seat to visibly pregnant women, but not other women just because they have that little "I'm officially pregnant" tag hanging from their bag. Why should they get my seat just because they had sex with somebody?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Unless you happen to believe that women are somehow less capable of standing than men, somehow weaker.

Giving up your seat for a woman is a nice thought, but ultimately - whether you intend to or not - the above message is the one you are sending. Some women may appreciate the old-fashioned chivalry, but others will be inclined to find the gesture demeaning or even creepy, so far is this behavior now removed from common practice. My suggestion would be to save your chivalrous impulses for the elderly, the injured, the pregnant, or otherwise impaired. That, and parents with young kids. Or people carrying lots of heavy stuff, even. (If those people happen to be women, then, great - you can satisfy your desire to be an oldschool gentleman and not seem so terribly out of place doing so. Win-win.)

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

It might be common courtesy but its also sexism.

There are many of us who strive for the equal treatment of all able bodied. The discrimination against men shown by those who value 'common courtesy' is a step backwards in the fight for equality.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Absolutely no reason to do so! Women are now the dominant sex in education, and soon will outnumber men in all professions. They have higher income in the younger age brackets which will carry forward, command more research dollars for female-only diseases and live more than 5 years longer than men and the years they do live are healthier than men. Men have the harder and more difficult physical jobs and die in tens of multiples higher on the job, think military, railroad, construction, transportation, etc. The age of man is over and the burden may be laid to rest.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

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