Journalist Karlie Rutherford on the 373 Coogee bus on Tuesday. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Journalist Karlie Rutherford on the 373 Coogee bus on Tuesday. Picture: Justin Lloyd

The biggest problem with men on buses

WOMEN are in the middle of a poignant time in history where our voices are being heard loud and clear across the globe as we fight for equality.

But has our battle come at the expense of common courtesy and killed off chivalry?

This thought occurred to me as, like many Sydneysiders, I was travelling home from a long day at work on a packed bus. I was forced to stand and cling on for dear life as our driver auditioned for a Formula One gig while, typically younger, gentlemen sat around me comfortably. Usually this wouldn't have bothered me - I consider myself a strong, independent woman and understand the female fight for equality doesn't necessarily give me the right to expect a man to stand for me.

But I'm pregnant.

At the time of writing I'm 23 weeks and while clearly have a bump, I don't yet have the "pregnancy waddle" as my best friend so affectionately calls it. And the feeling intensifies when I see men, younger than myself, with their earphones in and eyes glued to their phones, enjoying the 'luxury' of a seat on a public bus.

In 2005, Eloise King stood as she travelled on a Sydney City Rail train to Central Station from the Central Coast. Picture: Gary Ramage
In 2005, Eloise King stood as she travelled on a Sydney City Rail train to Central Station from the Central Coast. Picture: Gary Ramage

Now, I understand that becoming a mother is a choice - it's a blessing and a joy. However with it comes fatigue, swollen limbs, and sweatiness. Lots of it. And that's if you have a good pregnancy. I take my hat off to the women of the world who battle daily sickness but just power on. While it's certainly not a disability, I'd be lying if my growing shape and size didn't impact my day-to-day life.

Across all walks of life, women have fought for the right to equality. But the one area we will never be equal is pregnancy - unless science fiction has other plans, men can't carry children. Full stop.

What I wonder though is whether our push for pay parity or seats in the boardroom has negated our need for seats on the bus. Does it mean we have to forgo basic chivalry. Is it possible to still be a strong, self-reliant woman and expect simple old-fashioned gentlemanlike gestures?

Should I be flattered that men don't stand up for me because they see me on the same level?

Granted, that frustrating day I was eventually offered a seat……………. by a woman.

Commuters wait for a packed bus in Sydney.
Commuters wait for a packed bus in Sydney.
Karlie Rutherford is 23 weeks pregnant. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Karlie Rutherford is 23 weeks pregnant. Picture: Justin Lloyd