If Everybody’s Best Friend ( 1939) is to be believed, people were still debating the propriety of men giving up seats to women, whether or not it was necessary to doff a hat to a lady or where a man should walk on a pavement when accompanying a lady, as they had done for centuries before and perhaps still do. On the question of who should pay on a night out, to an earlier generation brought up before the advent of Women’s Liberation, there is no question that a man should pay for everything. Notice that it is tacitly assumed that once the man and woman are married, it is certainly the husband who must pay for a meal and for seats in a theatre or cinema, even though the wife may have an income from her job. But have things changed that much ?
1 ) Giving up your seat to a ‘lady’.
There seem to be mixed views now on the question of whether a man should give up his seat to a woman in a crowded conveyance. Some men do, others consider it unnecessary. Has the custom changed ?
Custom in this respect has not changed and a courteous man has no hesitation in standing so that a lady may be seated. The exception is that no would desire an elderly man to give up his seat to a girl. A young man should be ready to offer his eat to an elderly man as well as to a lady. Similarly, in a crowded bus or railway compartment in which only the women present are seated, a young woman may well offer her seat to an elderly woman, to a woman with a child in her arms, or to an old man.
When offered a seat a woman should always accept it readily, with a smile and word of thanks. To decline the offer is to slight a man who is doing the right thing. If a lady accompanied by a man is offered a seat, the man should utter a word of thanks for the courtesy shown his companion.
An interesting little point arose recently when my fiancée and I were travelling in a bus. The bus was full and men were standing down the centre. A lady got in. I offered my seat and had to go along the bus, with the result that my fiancée had really to travel the journey alone. Did I do right in offering my seat in these circumstances? Continue reading