*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

"There's a baby in my belly"

I have seen these on women's handbags on buses and trains.  What the Japanese says is, "There's a baby in my belly".   I got more information about it from this blog.  There's a poster that goes along with it, which says something like: "When you see this maternity symbol please be considerate."  My wife was pregnant in Canada, and we just brought our kid with us to Japan, and can I say a lot on this topic!

I'll tell you what I like about this symbol.  I was raised right in some ways, and one of them is to get off your @$$ when someone needs a seat more than you.  A pregnant woman, from the point of view of someone who's never going to have to do that, is a hero.  The seat is hers.  You give up that seat and don't wait for someone else to, because too damn few will.  However, what do you do if you are not sure if the woman is pregnant or obese?  Yeah, that's a tricky one.  This symbol is a lot like a wedding ring, it works if you are looking for it.

We need this in Canada, because, well, a lot of women are obese (men too, at that).  Sure, pregnancy weight-gain is pretty localized, but a big portion (so to speak) of the population is not showing that localization until the third trimester.  There have been a few times on the Toronto subway where I did not get up, because that lady was too big all over to be sure of the cause, and I did not need a lady twice my size angry.  Funny they have the buttons in Japan.  Given the size of most Japanese women, you can pretty much tell who is pregnant from conception.  Fine, by the second trimester.

So which country is more polite?  From my wife's Japanese mouth there is praise for Canada, and a stream of abuse for Japan.  Have to say I agree.  You see, that crap that the Japanese are so polite?  No, they are mannered, and that's not the same: you don't extend manners to strangers.  A Japanese lady in her third trimester can have this button, and be standing in front of the 'courtesy seats', but the young people or middle-aged men in them will be pretending to sleep.  Have I mentioned passive-aggression?  You know who gets up for that woman, or at least who I have seen?  Teenage boys, some few women between thirty and sixty, and Gaijin.  Never seen anyone else do it.  I enjoy being that Gaijin.  Because it's the right thing to do?  Sure, but mainly to watch the passive-aggressive squirm in their guilty seats.  When I am carrying the kid with my wife I also enjoy saying how rude people are not to get up, for me or for the elderly people standing around me.  Usually I do this in English (and I keep it in simple English) but in Japanese when I am really annoyed.

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