give up your seat.

21 Jun

We’re going to start the week out with an easy little tidbit of wisdom.  I know you’ve had a big weekend with the awkwardness that only a holiday dedicated to your father can offer – so we’re going to take it slow.  Ready?

When you’re sitting anywhere and a woman enters your space with the obvious intent to sit, look around the area and see if there’s a free seat.  If there is, don’t do anything (something you’re already a pro at).  If there isn’t an obvious chair for her to sit in, GET UP and politely offer her your seat.

While the post should end here and you should just trust me and do it, I feel as though I must take a moment to explain why.  However, I don’t really know why.  In fact, I’ve realized lately that I don’t understand the motives behind many chivalrous acts that I try to reinstate (standing when a lady enters the room, etc.).  Because really, when you think about it, women are typically smarter and more resourceful than even the most well refined Grown Men.  When a woman walks on a packed subway car and is forced to stand because no guys rise up and do the right thing, she’s going to be fine.  If a woman walks in a conference room and notices there aren’t any seats, she’s perfectly capable of forging for her own chair or simply standing – she doesn’t need your help.

Um, Grown Man, you’re kind of digging yourself a grave here.  I’m about to quit all this being polite junk and start keeping it real again.

Get ready to be schooled like game 6 Celtics.  Here we go…

It’s important that people know they’re respected.  Giving up your chair isn’t really about aiding a damsel in distress – she doesn’t need the help – it’s about communicating that you respect her presence enough to make the next few moments a little easier, even at the risk of your own comfort.  I would argue that giving up a seat for another man isn’t a bad idea either.  However, societal norms don’t dictate that to be a common form of respect between men, so we find other ways of communicating respect like firm handshakes and dreadfully boring drinks after work.

And one more thing, I feel as though men have gotten the impression that chivalry is merely for purposes of wooing women into dating them.  While a relationship may be an unintended benefit of being polite, it certainly shouldn’t be the motive.  Having etiquette is just part of being a man.  Any woman, and I mean old women, your mom, your random coworker, your wife, a stranger, is worth your utmost respect and chivalry.

Whew, enough big words, I’m going to make it simple for you.  Woman in room? No seat! Get up.

28 Responses to “give up your seat.”

  1. pbandchutney 21 June 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    GM! You read my mind!! Being a lay from the South, I loved that men would stand up and give up their seat when you walked into a bus, or the waiting area of a restaurant, or anywhere for that matter. Then I moved to Brooklyn, and was appalled when no one got up to give me their seat. I could have been drenched in rain, covered in snow, or carrying 8 bags, and no one would get up. It’s such a same that chivalry is slowing taking its last breaths, so THANK YOU GM for trying to get a few more sips out of life out of it.

    • You're a Grown Man 22 June 2010 at 8:06 am #

      Pb, While there’s a ton of stuff in the south’s history that I’m sure they’d like to forget (you know, the whole slavery thing), I hope they remember and spread the “southern charm” and etiquette that’s so much a part of the culture.

      I hope the north treats you well and that the gentlemen of The Union learn their manners.

  2. pbandchutney 21 June 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    edit: being a LADY from the South, not a Lay. Good gosh.

  3. Amy B. 21 June 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    I would like to add the caveat that should a woman respond to the offering of a seat with, “I’m fine, thank you,” a Grown Man should graciously accept that. I have many reasons for standing up, depending on the day (getting off the train in a couple stops, sitting at a desk all day and just want to stand, thinking the seat should be offered to the 90-year-old man with a cane instead). But sometimes in my (polite) refusal, I get dirty looks or questions like “What, my seat’s not good enough for you?” or the arrogant “tut, tut” that women would be so crude as to not accept a seat.

    Of course, any Grown Man offering a seat out of respect would know better than to do any of these things, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

    I do especially like your point that the seat shouldn’t be offered if there is a seat nearby; that does help to avoid the above situations when a Grown Woman just wants to stand.

    • You're a Grown Man 22 June 2010 at 8:09 am #

      Well put, Amy B.! You’re totally right, chivalry isn’t about forcing it, it’s really about the subtle art of sincerely offering and knowing when to back off. Great addition to the post, thank you!

    • Teresa 22 June 2010 at 11:01 am #

      Interesting you bring up 90-year-old man with a cane. I was on the subway once, had a seat, and noticed an elderly man near me who was standing and clutching onto the pole for dear life. He was shaking, and looked like he was about ready to fall apart! So I offered him my seat. He thanked me, but said he was fine. Then a dude two seats down from me offered HIS seat, and THE MAN TOOK IT! *grrr*

      Granted, this was an older gentleman who was probably thoroughly from another era where a man has to be strong in a woman’s presence NO MATTER WHAT. But seriously? Come on. If you’re that visibly in need of a seat, you should take it from anyone who offers it – graciously – and stop pretending that you’re fine.

      Grown Men should admit when they need help. Grown Women get annoyed when they don’t.

      • Jess 22 June 2010 at 1:15 pm #

        I think it is important to realize that this elder man still had his pride. It was likely your prompt to give him your seat (appropriate, BTW) that led to the other guy making the followup offer. Your irritation at the acceptance is really misplaced. Let the elder man have his pride . . . it may seem silly to you, but it is vital to many. Just ask anyone who has lost the ability through age to drive themselves, or feed themselves, or whatever. Just something to keep in mind.

        • Teresa 22 June 2010 at 1:20 pm #

          I understand that totally. I mean, I have MY pride. What upset me wasn’t that he turned me down, it was that he TOOK a seat from a MAN who offered it.

  4. Christopher 21 June 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    No. Either we’re equal or we’re not. If I have to stay on the sinking boat while you get off first, because society automatically values your life more than my own merely because of different plumbing, then at least I’m going to die comfortably while seated.

    • You're a Grown Man 22 June 2010 at 8:23 am #

      Fair point, Christopher.

      I agree with your logic that if we’re equal, why would we do things like give up seats? However, my challenge for you isn’t just to think of it as valuing a woman’s life more than your own, but valuing ALL lives as exceedingly important and worth the utmost respect. Feel free to open the door for men, give up your seat for a guy, and take a man out on a great first date – I think it’s all fantastic.

      The problem is, men don’t give a crap if you open the door for them, and they don’t care if you give up your seat. Society has created different rules, so we either fight the man and park our butts on the Titanic, which is a viable option. Or, we realize that we can very simply show respect for a woman by doing something that is, I’ll admit, kind of pointless (again, women don’t need our help).

      Thanks for reading, Christopher, and taking the time to comment.

    • Jess 22 June 2010 at 1:21 pm #

      Wrong. Equality is something that applies via the circumstances. For instance, equal pay for equal work; yes. If one of those people has a higher degree or shows that they are more capable, then the equality is moot. So when we talk about men/women and elements of chivalry, it has to do with showing that you are a well bred, caring, adult. Not that you are equal or not. This goes for both sides. I have seen very rude women act less than lady-like to men holding doors. I have also seen men slam the door in my face. I always appreciate good manners . . . and don’t kid yourself that men and women are equal in all things. Men have better upper body strength . . . women have the ability to give birth . . . both have their own incredible differences, which make us such wonderfully well-rounded couples, when we fall in love. If you are so hung up on equality, you’re going to miss out on a lot, offend many, and miss the point. Perhaps you should consider an ettiquette course . . . these little manners and practices are essential in business, relationships, and life. Good luck!

      • Teresa 22 June 2010 at 1:26 pm #

        To add on to your point, I think people misinterpret what’s meant by “equality.” The important thing isn’t that men and women are “the same.” It’s that men and women should have the same opportunities. Example: it should not be assumed that only women need maternity leave to stay home with a child. Men should have an equal opportunity to stay home with a child, and they should not be thought less of if they choose to do so. Simultaneously, a woman should not be “punished” by her job by being replaced just because she can give birth. Both men and women deserve the same opportunities to participate in society, what they choose to do with those opportunities is up to them.

      • ashleyhh 22 June 2010 at 2:26 pm #

        Very well said, Jess.

  5. eva3402 21 June 2010 at 7:59 pm #

    I remember once walking quickly into a mall, walking right past a man who had slowed to show his little boy that they needed to stop and get a door for me (I veered to the side and grabbed another door, in my own little world, not noticing what they were doing until it was too late). I can’t remember exactly why, but something in his reaction showed me that I had offended him. To this day, I feel bad about this.

    When you men perform acts of courtesy, you are rising above your fellows, you are being the rare few, and as a consequence, you are taking some of us by surprise. Some of us are out of practice, and we might be a little oblivious or get flustered and say no just because we aren’t used to the attention. But we respect you, and some of us are still thinking about you years later and are happy that you are teaching your sons to be gentlemen, too.

    • You're a Grown Man 22 June 2010 at 8:25 am #

      Dear guy who got offended by Eva3402 one time in a mall in the late 80’s who’s son in probably 30 and totally well adjusted,

      She’s sorry, please forgive her, she was trying her best.

      Your friend,

      P.S. Thanks as always for the good comments!

  6. Ashley 21 June 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Haha great post!

  7. ashleyhh 22 June 2010 at 12:07 am #

    Great post and Christopher I am going to take a wild guess and say you are single, or will be soon.

    If I might add something to this though. If you are going to offer your seat to a woman, get up first and then offer. It is never fun for a guy to say, “Would you like to sit down?” While he is still sitting there, obviously doing it out of obligation, not respect.

    Grown man, thank you for trying to show that chivalry is not dead.

    • You're a Grown Man 22 June 2010 at 8:29 am #

      Ashleyhh, we have to be cool with Christopher. He’s the first voice of decent we’ve had on the blog and he’s got to be allowed to voice his opinion.

      Having said that, great addition to the blog by encouraging the get-up-and-actually-offer instead of the empty “would you like to sit down” move.

      • ashleyhh 22 June 2010 at 11:58 am #

        I will say that my comment toward him was probably out of place, so I apologize. I think the whole equality thing is just a touchy issue. I myself am the farthest thing from a feminist you will ever find. I had a stay at home mom and I think thats how it should be. However, due to the women who wanted to work and be equal, it is not common these days to be able to survive on a single income. So yeah, if we have to work, it makes sense to get paid the same. But I do see your point. And I am sorry.

        • Teresa 22 June 2010 at 12:03 pm #

          Just because you believe in stay at home moms, doesn’t mean you’re not a feminist. All “feminism” means is women having the free choice to do what they want in the same way men do. What they choose after that is their business, and LOTS of women choose to stay at home with their kids. 🙂

        • lookingforsomethingtofind 22 June 2010 at 3:09 pm #

          There is a great lecture from Cato on why men tend to earn more. It really offers a fresh perspective on the subject.

          Part One

          Part Two

  8. lookingforsomethingtofind 22 June 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    I believe in chivalry, and to be honest helping a damsel in distress. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a hard time saying no to helping a lady. Anyways I’d add holding doors, when ever there is a woman behind you.

  9. Pop 23 June 2010 at 8:13 am #

    Great post, GM! Here in the nation’s capital, it’s amazing how many seemingly grown men, in their grown men attire don’t give up their seats. My wife, who is full-term, and I took the Metro into DC. While everyone stared–it’s hard not to–not one person budged. One unGM even bumped into her stomach and didn’t even offer an apology. “Having etiquette is just part of being a man” Amen. And I’d even say that not giving up your seat, particularly to a pregnant woman makes you less of a man. What do you think?

    • You're a Grown Man 24 June 2010 at 12:03 pm #

      Oh man, the rules for pregnant women are WAY different. Everybody (man or woman) should have stood up and offered that sweet woman their seat – immediately.

      And yes, I do agree. Very rarely can a man earn negative points by doing things that are not GM (it’s like distance and time, we’re only concerned with forward motion when it comes to becoming a Grown Man). However, bumping, making uncomfortable, not offering to carry bags/boxes, and hoarding your seat from a pregnant woman is cause for huge deductions in score.

      Let us all know when baby-Pop, pops! A million congratulations, dad.

  10. somebody's crazy uncle 19 September 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    Grown Man, I know its probably pointless to comment on an article that’s months old, but I’ve just been going through your archives.

    What are “the rules” for a physically disabled man?

    I used to at least make some effort at this kind of thing, and at least was sufficiently mindful of it to feel guilty about it later when I forgot to do it at the time.

    However, I have reached a point in my life (due to injury, not age) where I walk with an extremely obvious limp and sometimes use a cane.

    Should I continue to try to do the chivalrous thing? Or would it just look silly?

  11. Tiny Tim 18 April 2011 at 7:51 am #

    I am not going to give up my seat to someone just because she is a woman. Just because someone is a woman does not mean that she is more important than me. I have just as much of a right to sit down as a woman does.

    Also some people say that men should respect women by giving up their seat for women. But what about respecting my beliefs? I believe that I have just as much of a right to sit down as a woman does.

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