On the 7 train to Queens, you sat down in the last empty seat, a 35-ish year old man. You saw me standing there with my belly protruding, 9 months of life inside me. You made direct eye contact and then put on your headphones. I tapped your arm and said, “Excuse me, would you mind giving up your seat so I can sit?” You immediately looked in all other directions but back at me, searching for a way out. When you realized I was talking to you, you looked angry and snapped,”Do you think I walked all the way down here to find a decent empty train car so that you can take my seat?!” Excuse me? The discomfort of you having to walk an extra twenty meters down the train platform might have made you sweat a tiny bit, but do you think that compares to how hard it is to create a life?
I continued to look you in the eye without saying anything, and my friend said angrily, “Dude, she’s pregnant.” You continued with your angry mutterings, but stood up. I sat down and you said nastily, “I didn’t hear a thank you,” to which I replied, “I already said thank you,” and fought back rolling my eyes at you.
If you don’t give up your seat for the elderly, the handicapped or pregnant women, you are an asshole, plain and simple. There is literally no way around it.
And in the case of pregnant women, I ask you — did you not once live in someone’s uterus? Weren’t you once warm and safe and happy, listening to your mother’s heart beat for 9 months? You might not remember those days, but I guarantee you, she does.
The feel of your kicks against her ribs, or the way your weight bore down so hard on her pelvis she felt like she might snap in half. How she waited to meet you so anxiously, buying prenatal vitamins, taking all the precautions to eat enough spinach and kale, even though it made her incessantly nauseous. How she stopped buying anything for her self, and spent all her money on things you would need once you came into the world. The throbbing swollen feet, that came from carrying around your weight, and the extra blood and fluid required to create a life. How she washed all your tiny clothes in delicate detergent, so as not to irritate your brand new skin, how she worked on the nursery to make it perfect, just for you. How hard she thought about what to name you, a decision you will carry for the rest of your life. At night she couldn’t sleep, you were too big and her body felt too small to house you and keep her alive, there was no room for her lungs and you and should couldn’t breathe, yet even so, she cried so many times, just thinking how much she loved you already.
She watched in horror as her once tight, toned abs ripped apart to make way for your growth spurt, as her body stored extra fat, to protect you, in the form of cellulite on her once perky bottom. She knew the patriarchy would punish her for the physical changes you caused in her body, she knew that even as she breast fed you and learned how to be the best new mother possible for you, she would be expected to focus hard on things she wouldn’t care about once you were born, on getting thin and beautiful again in as little time as possible after the birth. She knew people would talk if she didn’t “bounce back,” she knew her breasts would sag and she would become less desirable in society’s eyes because of this. But she didn’t care. She loved you so much already, she didn’t care about these silly things.
She read the entire internet, learning about how best to give birth to you. Yes, there were options that could make the birth easier on her. But they were not best for you. And so she investigated and investigated and investigated until she decided to try for a natural birth, decided to find doctors that would only resort to a c-section as the last option. She made this choice, knowing it would be the one that would hurt her the most. That she would spend a day, maybe even two days, maybe even three days, moaning in complete agony, exhausted, fighting to not fight the endless pain of contractions, digging deep for the strength inside her to push you out of her body with no drugs, even when she’d never been more in pain in her life. She would find a way to do it because that was the decision that would be best for you, the safest way to birth you, the easiest way to bond with you afterwards and make sure you knew you were safe and warm in her care, even on the outside. Because that’s how much she loved you already.
And you, you asshole on the subway on the way to Queens. You stand there glaring at me while I sit down and rest my aching bones. I hope nobody ever once treated your mother like this when she was pregnant with you. You made me feel guilty, like I shouldn’t have asked for your seat, even though you are the one who should feel guilty. I shouldn’t have ever had to ask for your seat! Do you feel good about yourself? Was that 35 minute subway ride on your feet worth the fight?
I’m ashamed that my Chilean boyfriend witnessed this, the absolute worst of our country’s (lack of) humanity. I’m ashamed for you, that you could even exist, you bitter angry little man, with your lack of empathy for the world. And I’m certain, your own mother would be horribly ashamed of you too.