It didn't sit right with Lawrence E. Adjah that there were a lot of women standing up during their Caltrain commute, so he decided to take a stand. Adjah, a media and entertainment entrepreneur in Palo Alto, decided to make an announcement, asking for seated able-bodied men to give their seats to standing ladies. Passengers complied and Adjah posted a picture of the standing men and seated women to his Facebook page with the caption, "We did it! All the men agreed to stand! There are no women on this Caltrain standing. Small victories family, small victories." Gathering dozens of likes in minutes, the post stood as a testament to chivalry not being entirely dead. However, nice things rarely go rewarded, and a vocal minority of disapproving men, presumably Adjah's friends, voiced their opinion on Adjah's activism, claiming that chivalry should be dead, citing gender equality as the basis for dismissing Adjah's efforts.
While gender equality is an interesting premise for the argument against Adjah's efforts, it became clear from the negativity (and negative depiction of the women who might avail themselves of a seat that could be occupied by a dude's derriere) that the dislike of this was about a deeper hatred of women. Take this comment from one of Adjah's Facebook friends, for example: "That's that stuff that be driving the Female Entitlement Mindset. If you can run from store to store for four hours straight, then you can stand on the damned commuter train for a half hour. Sheeeit." The commenter followed up on the ""beggin' ass, free-ridin', tackheaded broads" Adjah was serving, continuing to say that "those "chicks" who want men to give up seats so that they can sit their lazy, entitled asses down are prime examples of the selfishness... [a]s much as it may surprise you to read, there are some men who actually BELIEVE in the notion of gender equality."
There are many men who believe in gender equality, but I guarantee that they aren't the ones referring to women as beggars, freeloaders and broads. And men who truly believe in gender equality, regardless of whether or not they agree with Adjah's actions, would recognize that in the scheme of things -- considering just how much is at stake for women's rights and equality not only in this election year but in our culture -- a simple, positive gesture by a single individual just isn't worth shutting down with negativity and hate.
Perhaps this caught my eye since in an effort to be frugal both time and money-wise, I decided to ride the New York subway this week with my 24 pound son strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn carrier. While I was happy to build the muscle that comes with lugging the equivalent of five 5 pound sacks of sugar, and when I was occasionally offered a seat I did decline politely since my ride was so short (and August seems to tolerate standing up better than sitting), I was shocked by the number of men AND women who forcefully pushed past not just me but also heavily pregnant ladies as well as the elderly and disabled of both genders, just to get one of the few available seats. Those few who offered me kindness did put a spring to my step, and reminded me of why I, too, always offer my seat to anyone who seems like they could use it more than me, whether it is an able-bodied woman who seems like she has had a rough day or a person who visibly doesn't look like they should stand.
There's so much sadness and killing and anger in the world today that when I see something a little different in a good way, something like Adjah's efforts, I want to share with the world -- despite the (perhaps over-hyped?) controversy that surrounds it.
So what say you, readers (and viewers if you watch HuffPost Live)? Do women who accept a seat from a man just want to sit on their "lazy, entitled asses," or do you agree with Adjah, who stated in response, "A woman gave birth to you, a man fathered you, they are equal beings but by no means the same. That alone, among other things, encourages me to use any opportunity I can to show them they are special, whether it's as simple as getting up on the train."
Let me know in the comments!
HuffPost Women sends stories about relationships, politics, sex, work, culture and body image, straight to your inbox three days a week. Learn more