Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ignorance, equality or rudeness?

Yes, those are the questions I ask myself whenever I get on a tram, subway or a bus. Me - 37 weeks pregnant and usually in a company of my three years daughter. In Poland in most cases people occupying seats would immediately stand up and ask me to sit with my child or if I'm by myself they would in most cases offer me a seat. In Finland, such a friendly and kids oriented country, no one ever even think about such a possibility. Like today. It was afternoon and we were going back from a daycare. We got on the tram which was quite crowded as for Helsinki standards. We stand just next to a sitting guy - middle aged, very nicely dressed, who only looked at us briefly and was sitting without any thoughts, that maybe it is not fair, that a little girl has to stand on a moving vehicle with her very much pregnant mother. In Poland such behavior is considered simply rude. This is our culture and this is how I feel. How is it in Finland? I don't know. But maybe here women made such a feminist revolution, that it would be considered rude to let a pregnant woman rest and let her sit down with her baby or small child? Does that mean Finnish way of equality? I'd be happy to hear how such situations are seen in your countries. Give me some feedback! :)


  1. I totally understand you, but, maybe we need to look from different perspective: Of course it is a bit heavy to carry a huge belly while taking care of 3 year old in public transport, but all healthy pregnant women are well able to do it. Its not the end of the world.

    Why we have those requests?

    Partly because we are physically tired, but I have theory that more importantly because we are expecting others to act that way. (Actual body weaknes is not that unbearable)

    Maybe we just expect too much from others or maybe living in Poland, being a part of polish system created those claims in us.

  2. Maybe you are right. But I'm thinking about simple kindness and also some manners. And yes, maybe it is being Polish. But isn't it kind to let sit down an older woman or a very pregnant one in a situations when I am fit and healthy and not old and not carrying a tired toddler with myself? Of course I can bear even more, I can stand the back pain and heavy legs and balancing on a tram with one hand holding my daughter (and keeping my eye so she doesn't get hit by something or fell) and the other holding the bar while the tram is moving. Sure, but living in a high culture society I would expect a bit different behavior. That's it.

  3. I think you are partly right in feminism and partly I believe it is just Finnish awkwardness. There is this really annoying trend in Finland, that luckily I escaped by moving away. I have seen women get really annoyed and angry at men who have tried to help them lift up their luggage for them or help them get up the stairs etc. and that has led to men not even wanting to help.

    But I'd say even more of it is, Finnish social awkwardness. Funnily enough, with urban life we have lost more and more of our good manners and become really isolated in our own little worlds. Finnish people are not very communal and living in cities I think has really made our hermit side and the side who just wants to be left alone flourish. We don't say hello to neighbours, we don't let anyone give us advice on how to live our lives or raise our kids. We really lack communities in Finland. And through that some manners. I find it really frustrating that people in Finland don't give seats to the elderly or like you were pregnant.

    I have been so pleasantly surprised, living in Ireland that people actually say hello, and are kind to you when you encounter them. They want to be involved and help and be _together_. Us Finns often just end up living alone and not really looking around and realizing that the other people are there to be interacted with and to be kind to.

  4. This is a good point of view. Hm, Finnish awkwardness. But you know, more often I meet Finns who are kind, smily and do say hi if they are my neighbors than Finns who don't look at me and say nothing. Although in the house I live I do have those two sorts of neighbors. And also on a street people used to smile to me when I'm walking with my child. So, I always had an impression they are in general against all the stereotypes quite open and kind. But yes, probably comparing to the Irish or to Americans it is different here. But thanks Katri for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Well, in Denmark they are having the same attitude towards old or pregnant in public transport... So it is not just a Finnish thing... It is also not lack of kindness, its more like lack of empathy to the stranger trained from early childhood...

      I do expect different behavior, just like you, but this is a part of being Polish I guess...

  5. Yet this is a huge issue and, it it matters to you personally (if you get bad feelings from interacting with rude people) then you should consider if living here is a long-term option. I have lived here for 8 years and still cannot tolerate the rudeness and lack of empathy of Finns. Empathy should be taught in school because it's probably a crucial thing to have if you live in a civilized society. But perhaps Finns don't care about how they are so...