#Society #Women Opinion

The Ladies’ Seat. We have the reason to ask for one!


We are a member of the democracy where few are concerned about who is perched at the seat of the highest importance to the nation, or whether he deserves to be there or not. Anyway, I am not concerned either. So let’s move on to an issue closer to our lives, that makes a sight everyday we travel to school, college, work, or anywhere on earth, in a public transport. You need to have travelled in city buses to be able to relate to such eye- and ear-soaring experiences. Yes! Our very own and familiar “ladies’ seat”! To the ignorant souls, some 4-5 seats on one side in a bus are reserved exclusively for women—meaning, if a man is seated on such a seat, a lady can ask him to vacate it for her. A gentleman normally does so; a “mantle-man” prefers to refuse, be indifferent, and squabble back. Every other day, we witness a mess over the ladies’ seat. An earnest request, a blatant refusal, a verbal fight, inclusion of big words like gender discrimination, gender equality, reservations, etc, and it might stretch up to spitting of shit like regionalism, racism, immigration, and so on. Consider yourself lucky, if you escape an ear-drum rupture due to loud and heated arguments. Never to forget the possibility of a goose-flesh violent streak and lavish use of abusive words coming from an otherwise decent-looking man or woman.

In The Delhi Metro.

The other day I witnessed such a fight, heated enough to neutralize the cooling of the air-conditioned bus in Delhi. Everybody in the bus had their own view on whether there should be reserved seats for women or not. Those against this idea had only one point, “Women demand gender equality on one hand and special privileges of the reserved seats on the other! Ironical!”.

And I, as just another witness with an opinion, disapprove to accept the point that the reserved ladies’ seats are a “privilege” whatsoever. No! I am not a hardcore feminist who blindly supports the provision of the reserved seats for the women in public transports. There are some scientific and social facts that any reason-gifted mind can understand, and make a rational opinion upon, rather then empty rambling about the ever-debatable issue. Here, I have concentrated some food for your thought and the reasons so as to why there should be a ladies’ seat—

1. The very anatomical body framework and physiological capacity of a woman is such that she can not stand for as long as a man can. Ever seen a man getting breathless, nauseate, vomit or faint in a crowded bus on usual basis? No? But a woman does, because she is more delicate and sensitive to the physical environment than a man. And this sensitivity does not imply a “weakness” but her very being, The Womanhood. And, there is no sneaking away from this natural fact. A woman can willingly be iron-minded but not iron-fisted. The optimum time-period for standing at a stretch comfortably is much less for a woman than for a man.

2. Did you know that an alarming 52 percent of Indian women, and about 88 percent of the pregnant ones suffer from anæmia? To keep in the simplest words, anæmia means lesser blood circulation in the body than required to keep healthy and to work efficiently. And this is as much true for the woman belonging to the affluent classes, as is for the one belonging to lower socio-economic strata of the country. The reason is attributed to the faulty nutrition practices prevalent in the Indian society. With such a sorry state of health-stats, it is highly troublesome for a weak, lethargic and prone-to-faint-attacks Indian woman to bear the burden of prolonged standing in a crowded, stinking Delhi bus.

In a bus.

3. Every woman of the reproductive age group (14-45 years of age) spends 5 days per month in their menstrual cycle (just another normal process exclusive to women). No matter what I say, a man can never understand the amount of distress and pain a woman passes through during this period. To say the least, the pain due to a broken leg would be less than what some women suffer from during this natural phase. Now imagine having to keep standing with a broken leg! And, to add to it, a giant man crushing the feet and least concerned to apologize for the same! Thanks to the male-driven and male-oriented social and official norms, this period requiring rest is not even considered for a medical leave, leave alone bestowing offs to the girls and woman during this time. And yes, they travel standing in the buses with the least physical ability during this period.

4. A similar state of affairs go for a pregnant woman. There is a period of almost 5 months before she appears to be evidently pregnant with a protruding belly. Fatigue, malaise and fainting are more common in these early months of hidden pregnancy than the ones that get evident later, when a few decent men might offer the lady a seat out of courtesy or chivalry.

So yes! There must be ladies’ seat, where these categories of women can righteously comfort themselves without having to announce to the world in distress, “we need one!”

5. Moving on with age, did you have an idea that all forms of arthritis, joint pains and bone-weakening disease like osteoporosis are more common in middle-aged women than men? No! Then do know! They are. As a victim of such natural pathological tendencies, a woman with stiff, painful and cracking joints deserves to sit on an available seat more than a man with well-functioning joints at a similar age.

6. The daily schedule of a working woman starts at the speed of machinery from around 5am in the morning, and runs all through the day untiringly. So what if they do not want to be standing in the bus on their way to office, after a sprint schedule at home! It’s all easy for a man to ramble nonsense having been served the all-prepared breakfast on the bed like a royal, while the lady herself might have got no seconds to take what she has herself been cooking since morning! Same goes the story on her way back from office, a list of household chores awaiting her desperately. Talk of gender equality? Huh! Talk equal division of labour too!!

7. Promise and provide me a journey safe and immune to eve-teasing and physical harassment in public transport and I will drop my support for the ladies’ seat, neglecting the above mentioned facts for once! Bleak seems the possibility, right? So does mine, going against these reservations. Why should I be a hapless victim of a perverted moron when a simple seat can bring me mental calmness and physical safety? I would better raise my voice for a ladies’ seat than fighting these morally-challenged eve-teasers found in every public transport.

Yes ladies and gentlemen! All this is a matter of one seat. The Ladies’ Seat. No! I am not demanding some reservation in an educational institute or a service commission. There, a woman can show her mental steel, intelligence and diligence to fetch a seat, stand up to and prove the gender equality. What I am supporting is a much required basic facility, not the privilege, to make a woman’s journey safe and concordant with her physiological needs. Those who consider it a “privilege” must understand what she might be paying to avail this “privilege” can never even be afforded by a man. So a flat refusal and ardent argument on being asked to vacate a ladies’ seat would be just another hollow show of male chauvinism. So hold it!

Trust me folks you might not get as many points to prove why the man holding the head-chair of the nation is holding it for, as I have given to you on why women deserve the ladies’ seat. Howsoever hard I try, I can’t make out those points too. Anyway that’s not the issue again.

The topic of concern, and the final point I make, is that we, The Woman, would better claim a rightfully-reserved ladies’ seat than depending on the mercy of a decent man (are there any left, by the way?).


About the author

Anita Phalswal

31 Comments

  • Thought-provoking article. Very honestly (and modestly) written. I was one of those men who was against the ladies seat concept. But now I understand the physical reason behind it.

  • Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaah… I started reading with a notion that this would be sarcastic/funny in some way, like most other stuff i have read on the site. But it looks like quite a serious one (unless my understanding for sarcasm has deteriorated).
    Pointwise reply (Since i have nothing else to do)
    1 – Not my or any other man’s problem. If you can’t survive the urban jungle without reservations such as ladies queues in ticketing and reserved seats in public transport, then women should just stay in their damn homes and be housewives, where they can have adequate rests between the daily chores, as they please. (Not implying by any means here that it’s a simple or useless job. Just mean to say that it’s more flexible in work schedule than other jobs and they can sit whenever the heck they want.)

    2 – Read #1
    3 – Read #1
    4 – Pregnant women should definitely get seats. I support that 100% and would gladly give my seat… reservation or otherwise. Just like people who are ill or carrying injuries or have a clear trouble/risk standing up.
    5 – They don’t deserve it. Maybe you should look up the meaning of word “deserve”. They might NEED it more, in which case #1 applies.
    6 – Those men are chauvinists. Men should, by all means work at home as much as the lady. Personally, i do it myself. Furthermore, this point is based on the assumption that men don’t work around the house. Which isn’t true for all cases. If men don’t help around the house then the ladies should ask men at their homes to comfort them by participating equally in the household chores rather than asking strangers outside to comfort them by giving them the seats.
    7 – Seat reservations somehow help with avoiding eve teasing? I don’t think so. It doesn’t do anything about the issue. The solutions to it would be women speaking up for themselves or harsh punishments for people who misbehave. But that’s beyond the scope of topic at hand. Point being, reserved seats don’t change the intent of the society’s scum and the incidents CAN NOT be stopped unless the intent is changed somehow.

    At this point i would like to also ask the author to consider looking up the meanings of the big words used like privilege (which it is), deserve etc.

    As an ending note. I do not respect men or women (which doesn’t automatically mean i disrespect them. I am neutral yet polite to strangers). My respect is only for individuals and is earned by them. I deny to give it away freely to anyone based solely on gender. I treat everyone with absolute equality. If they can not be endure being equals in this wilderness they they should just admit being inferior and stay in the safety of their sanctuaries they call home.

    • @Ayush I don’t like the way you put it; it’s certainly not us women’s fault that we’re born this way, and we’re certainly mentally capable enough to work alongside men, not ‘just stay in their damn homes and be housewives, where they can have adequate rests between the daily chores, as they please’. After all, physical differences should and do mean nothing in the workplace- if you haven’t noticed, neither men nor women have had to physically exert themselves in hunting/gathering for centuries. It’s really only travelling to and fro that causes problems. It doesn’t make us ‘inferior’, thank you very much.
      Oh, and housewives work a damn sight more than most in regular jobs, so don’t patronisingly ‘not imply that it’s a simple or useless job’, since they never actually stop until the home is spick and span, everyone’s properly fed and clothed, and half a million other little things that never seem to get done even when the day draws to a close. I suppose it could depend on the level of commitment, but when you’re committed, there’s no flexibility and no rests between chores.
      I may be harping on the same point, but it struck a nerve. I’m taking it personally because it felt personal in a way the article (which was well enough written, though I myself never fight for ladies’ seats, not having had a problem standing yet) didn’t.
      And I agree with the author about the eve-teasing. Obviously, sitting down with a purse/bag in your lap prevents untoward advances in a way that standing with people at your back and/or front doesn’t. This would be obvious if you’d ever bothered to put yourself into a woman’s shoes.
      The problem isn’t even about the women’s seats; it’s about the skewed way most Indian males still look at the world, all talk of gender equality aside. For putting up with all of it, we do “deserve” some sort of reward. Maybe the ladies’ seat isn’t enough, but it’s something, at least.

      • @Ruhee- I agree to your opinion about the housewives and their work which is much more demanding and tiring than any working man or woman.Also the eve teasing and safety concerns in the public transport. since you wrote it so wll I did not have to reinforce these in my opinion.Thanks 🙂

    • @Ayush-
      I do not believe that endurance dependent upon physical attributes and non-modifiable physiological processes can be the criteria for deciding the superiority or inferiority between man and woman. Comparisons can only be done after standardization of the two cohorts. If the corporeal strength and stamina were not a rational index, there would not be separate Men’s’ and Woman’s’ categories in all the sports events.

      Oh yes!! Men do household chores. And the sun rises in the west.

      By the way, the disclaimer you put could not hide the fact that the “Housewives and their DAMN home” do not really make a demanding class of work according to you. And I don’t understand how can a stranger woman “EARN” respect to be offered a seat in the bus? Ummm.

      Since all of the points made in the article are “Not your problem” or with that attitude, I am not surprised; you could not see the radical decrement in the problem of eve-teasing with a privilege as trivial as a seat in the public transport. Also offering seats to pregnant, aged, and injured (to which you agree) is governed by the same physical and physiological considerations as mentioned in the post.

      PS- Come on! ‘Privilege’ and ‘Deserve’ are not those big words. Seems you have derived some big meanings 😛

  • hello Anita , a very well written article over seat reservation in buses ,you wrote it quite sensibly and modestly ,one you don’t find on NTMN and i truly support what you say, i am myself in a habit of offering my seat to ladies irrelevant of whether i was sitting on a reserved seat or not,but i have a question to make.

    Once i took a train from delhi to lalkuan (nainital) ,the train had 2 seater coaches as well.i had my reservation and took the seat ,their were many people(mostly women) who didn’t have reservation but boarded the coach. my question is how can a man(a modest one)offer his seat to a women on a long journey of 5-6 hrs…?

    • @Vivek- Thanks for liking the opinion and sensibility of the article. Not only this one, all the articles on our site have a social concern and issue raised and taken on, wrapped with sensibe humour and sarcasm and are to an effect to the society.

      Your question: That seriously is an extreme condition. 5-6 hours are as much tiring to a man as are to the woman, so he should better be sitting and advice the women to get their seats reserved prior to such a long journey in future. 😀

  • Thoughtful article
    nicely written

    as i reside in Mumbai
    where travelling is not the most easiest task
    be it the public bus service or trains
    i agree
    that, given how nature has made women
    they lack the stamina compared to men
    so yes they have the rights to special “ladies seats”
    but tellme what is the ratio of women compared to men who travel to work?1:10?
    In mumbai the seats reserved in public transport busses (BEST) now arnt 4-5 ,but increased to 7-8
    at the same time in local trains
    last year ladies compartments were increased by 1-2
    and extra all ladies trains introduced at intervals

    the funny part is every morning when i catch a train(virar-churchgate)
    i see the ladies compartment moderately full
    while the other “general” compartments( cant call it men’s can i?)
    full like cattle dumped in a truck
    and the irony
    in these very “general ” compartments i see ladies “sitting” in ease
    when they have damn compartments reserved for them

    maybe mine is a isolated view
    but
    in the end
    over the years
    the “gender equality” hue and cry has been so over used
    everywhere
    from education,reservations,public transport etc

    i cannot help but smirk at your article
    cheers

  • Point wise Reply:

    1. you have not sen women farming.

    2. 80 % of the male suffer from lung related diseases, 50% from AIDS and rest are schizophreniacs… come on dear lady… should the reserved seats read ” reserved for the chronically/ Acutely anemic Ladies only”. Everybody is sick here..

    3. Menses are true for women across the glob … Alas! not all societies reserve seats for women… according to you women must sit at home for a few days every month.

    4. No need to reserve seat for pregnant women … chivalry demands that seat must be vacated for not only pregnant but for week frail sick tired … anybody who needs them…. why reserve for them. The issue is should seats be reserved for women in general or not.

    5. Reason for Arthritis is not femininity but lack of exercise and overweight.

    6. What an excuse…. You think men have a ball of a time while women work… please come up with something better.

    7. Provide me a world free of pick pocket, gang wars, corruption.. nuclear bombs… etc etc… reserve all seats for women. Madam … one has to fight his/ her battles.. stand up and fight back dont ask for shelter.. after all you also want and must be equal to men.

    Madam the question is reserved seats or equality… take your pick.

    • Mr Yashvardhan
      Thanks for reading and writing back. The medical facts about AIDS, Lung diseases and Arthritis are a misinformation on your part, I say so being a doctor. Nevertheless it is good to hear a counter opinion. 🙂

  • For point number 3, women should hire an ambulance for 5 days a months so they can commute properly in so called injured state( pain > broken legs huh !!!!) 😛

      • So the writer (and few more) feels because men are born men, i.e., physically stronger, they should be treated like animals while travelling, against women who ‘deserve’ to get the ‘fair’ chance to compete (the best example for ‘pathetic sense of humor’?). Does not it sounds like ‘Oh I can’t play equal everywhere, so you men (the animals) must help me win!’

        You know what, go to hell!

  • Excellent……
    I was travelling thru metro and looking for the reason for the samme
    Thanks a lot…

  • I Daily travel to my office by bus. Sometimes whenever there is a deserving person like old age person or pregnant women or some disbled person i had offered my seat to them. But yesterday was the worst day when a person and his wife was sitting on ladies seat ask him for seat and he refused after a while 5-6 ladies were standing and each of them asked him he simply refused and said “Jo karna hai kar lo jise bulana hai bula le main khali nahi karunga” hot argument started in between and he said “tujhe to main dekh lunga”. I was really scared. I just wanna ask what is the rule or wht should be donr if some body is not ready to leave the seat and even threaten you.

  • actually what mr. AYUSH wants to say is we as indians are insensitive and rude(in context of metro don’t even try denying that ) but in the delhi metro well it hurts when some men are guided by their innate idea of chivalry and some woman tries to be an absolute bitch not only to elderly men but even to elderly women and pregnant ladies and she even gets away with it

  • As we all know the status of women in India and other world in the past. Reservation is just the transition phase to make women stand equally in the masculine society. Now, lets converge this to only Indian scenario. Although we are having some decent chivalrous men in society. But still most of us don’t think about other men in this way. The guys who are writing against it, they too must be in favor of giving seats to their sister or mother. Because they knew the Indian public transport culture.

    Being a man, I can’t say anything about mensus. But in my opinion I would support 20-25 days mensus leave for women. Who knows this might be real. As we already have maternity leave and child care leave. So girls, keep your finger crossed.

    I won’t agree on physical weakness as a reason. Women are equally capable of doing almost everything. It might be the lack of proper diet, exercise and excessive busy scheduled in doing household chores and office.

    So we can say that, it’s just an effort from chivalrous guys from society to make sure that females of his society should feel safe when they are not traveling with them.

  • Well written article Anita. I agree on most points that you have laid out. I always argued the gender equality vs the reservations. I am also not in favor of reservations in education but that is not the topic here.
    1. I do not agree that women are not iron-fisted. Don’t women feel nauseous in the crowded ladies compartment of the mumbai local trains?
    Talking of iron-fisted, Indian history is abundant with women who were iron-fisted. e.g Rani Laxmibai, Ahilya bai Holkar, Savitri bai Phule to name a few

    2. Agree

    3. Since I do not have experience with mensus, I cannot comment. I assume it is painful and not the most pleasant times in the month. Can’t imagine blood dripping from body for 4-5 days.

    4. Absolutely agree

    5. Agree…Have seen my mother struggle with joint pains and arthritis at the age of 45. Child birth has the most toll on a female body and indian females are more adapt in ignoring their own bodily comforts over the comforts of the baby and husband. Absolutely Hats off .

    6. Disagree. Several of my friends and me, we help our wives at homes. I do the chopping, she does the cooking. I clean up after the cooking. There are maids for almost everything. Cannot buy the running around and busy schedule and the time table thing … Sorry

    7. Eve-teasing….absolutely agree. I have traveled in the crowded mumbai buses and trains and have experienced how cheap minded males take advantage of the crowd in appropriately touching a female passenger. I wish all the parents taught their sons to look at woman as mothers and not as sex object.

    I am supporter of ladies seat but I request all the ladies to maintain humanity.
    I would like to share a true incidence. This incidence really made me think that ‘do women forget humanity for the sake of something that is their right’
    I was traveling in a bus in mumbai. The bus was not very much crowded but all the seats were taken. There was 1 ladies seat vacant. An extremely old man boarded the bus and finding the seat vacant, occupied himself there. He was really old, probably in his 90s and carrying a walking stick. he could not even hold the stick properly and was wobbling over it.
    A stop later, a girl in her 20s boards the bus, finds the man seating in the ladies seat and in the most rude asks him to get up. The old man could not understand what the fuss was. She repeated to vacant the seat rudely. The old man got up wobbling on his stick and almost fell down with the moving bus. Another gentleman offered his seat to the old man.
    5 minutes later the girl disembarked the bus. The girls seemed educated and from a good family
    Here are my questions
    1) Do we have to forget humanity and kindness for our right ?
    2) the old man was of the age of her grand father. Can’t you be courteous ? Did you have to be rude?
    3) Some one might argue that she had her menses or was not feeling well…..My question is what if that seat was occupied by a female ? then she would have stood
    4) If only she wanted to travel for 5 minutes, why create a fuss only because it is your right? And yes she did not leave the bus in embarrassment because she did buy the ticket for couple of stops.

    What the girl did was legal but was it ethical?

    This incidence shocked me. Really. Why should we forget courteousness, kindness and most importantly humanity.
    Please realize that not all men are rapists, not all men are eve-teasers. There are gentleman in this world and please treat them with respect. Be harsh with eve-teasers but please treat others as humans.

    Once again, I will say good article and demand a society where women feel safe and compete equally.

  • Good Article..

    In my opinion It’s all about Humanity or I should say “Empathy”.
    Doesn’t matter if it’s a Reserved Seat or not, or the other person is a lady or not, If He/She is needy for the seat more than you, You should vacate the seat.

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