May 15, 2017

Will pregnant women wear "Baby On Board!" buttons as a way to get subway riders to offer them a seat?

And will subway riders with seats respond by giving them what they're wearing those buttons to try to say?

In New York City — where people used to believe in direct speech — the Transit Authority thinks these buttons are a good idea:



That's a terrible idea!

1. The button doesn't say what it wants to say: I need your seat a lot more than you do, and you need to give it to me. Oblivious/selfish people can continue with their oblivion/selfishness.

2. The phrase comes from an old sign that used to be stuck in the rear windows of cars, conveying the message that other drivers should be more careful than usual because there is a baby in that one car. This message annoyed a lot of people and came in for much ridicule because of the implication that it's okay to drive carelessly around non-babies. This new button stirs memories of bygone irritation.

3. "On board" implies that that a woman is a vehicle, a thing, so it's dehumanizing.

4. It's simultaneously discreet and indiscreet. You could just say to somebody, "Please, I need a seat" and if they're slow to respond, "I'm pregnant" (or "It's a health need"). But instead you wear a button. Now, you don't have to talk (to one person) but you're wearing a damn button everywhere, and you're announcing your private physical condition to everyone who looks at you.

5. Everyone — including every pregnant person — has a different level of need for a seat on a train. All are able enough to have gotten themselves onto the train, but beyond that, you don't know how hard it is for anyone else, including those you'd like to shame for taking a seat. Pregnancy is not the only reason for needing a seat, though at the point pregnancy becomes obvious, it's one of the conditions that announces itself, so we have the idea that people are mean if they won't give up their seat to someone we know is pregnant. The button allows any woman to get in on the shaming that obviously pregnant women already wield. But then why shouldn't there be even more buttons, making other claims for needing seats? I have arthritis and work on my feet all day!... I'm terribly sad because I can't get pregnant!... Not sitting down makes me nauseous and I vomit! There's no end to the potential button talk.

147 comments:

EDH said...

What about those who identify as being pregnant?

Robert Rogers said...

Dehumanization and pregnancy. Amazing how those concepts are related now.

rhhardin said...

Uterus on board.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Subtext: "I am not going to speak to you person-to-person because you might be a rapist or mugger or worse, a Trump supporter; but if you do not jump up and politely offer your seat, you will have confirmed my worst suspicions.

rhhardin said...

Erving Goffman one assigned a class to go out and ask people for their seats without giving any reason at all, to see what happened.

The class reported back and nobody could bring themselves to do it.

The sign might have the same problem. Nobody dares wear it.

J2 said...

If I had a baby on a board I wouldn't want to advertise it.

Greg Hlatky said...

"Baby On Board" stickers: the new Handicapped tag. Of course, no abuse of it will ever occur.

Bay Area Guy said...

Subway etiquette can be lacking at times. My rough calculation is that 85% of time people will recognize tha a pregnant woman is standing near them, and they will get up and offer their seat. The other 15% of the time, you have clueless, oblivious people who don't budge, and a pregnant woman who is too polite to ask.

Of the many problems on BART, I don't consider this to be one, but I could be wrong.

traditionalguy said...

The better to track down the Escapees from mandatory abortions to end Global Warming Disaster. Or maybe the women are actually getting married to men again?

Kate said...

A gray-haired woman and I boarded the airport tram at the same time and I offered her the last seat. She looked at me and said, "We're about the same age, so I guess you can take it."

1) Shit, I look that old??
2) Shit, I totally insulted her by assuming her age.
3) I sat down.

I don't think a button would've helped.

Bob Ellison said...

There is conjecture (he wrote, carefully, in passive voice) that a male human could incubate a fetus to birthability. We should find someone to try it and wear the button.

Or: just get a terrorist to put a baby on a cutting board and carry it around the train.

Lost My Cookies said...

I didn't think the baby on board signs were hated because it somehow made driving like an add around non babies OK. I thought it was a backlash against the yuppification of childrearing. The baby on board sign on the back window of a volvo, bmw, or high end minivan (Town and Country only, not the Caravan, and certainly NEVER the Voyager) packed to the roof with the right kind of baby accesories was a status symbol back then for career women of the right age. I think it was a cheap way of getting attention, too cheap, I guess, since they showed up everywhere, so they had to invent gluten allergies so upwardly mobile moms could get people to pay attention to how much they care.

Tank said...

Robert Rogers said...

Dehumanization and pregnancy. Amazing how those concepts are related now.


Beat me to it.

Owen said...

Giving up your seat is a microaggression. I learned that at the Misogyny Reeducation Center.

Ebbers Palomino I said...

The original purpose of BOB stickers was to alert emergency responders in case of an accident.

Hari said...

Should a seated pregnant woman not wearing the button be shamed into standing for a woman who is wearing the button?

tola'at sfarim said...

Clump of cells on board doesn't have the same ring to it

Humperdink said...

I suspect if they put a vest labelled "Service Baby" around their tummy everyone would leap to their feet, no questions asked.

rhhardin said...

A yellow button announcing anger management issues would be worn by seated people.

yoobee said...

I am surprised that a NYC governmental body would want to go anywhere near officially acknowledging the baby in the womb. I figured they would have suggested "Fetus on Board" or, better yet, "Post-viability Fetus on Board."

rhhardin said...

Deal with it, you feminist whore.

#counterbutton

rehajm said...

"On board" implies that that a woman is a vehicle...

...and it's the wrong vehicle. Pregnant women equate not to cars but to boats. There are inboard babies and outboard babies. The occasional i/o baby makes the paper.

Lucien said...

These buttons are a great idea, because they let the rest of us know that the person who is wearing it is an ass, without our having to find out the hard way. If only there were a way to get non-pregnant asses to wear "I am an Ass" buttons.

buwaya said...

I taught the boys to always give up their seat for a lady of any condition, anywhere.

That should be one of those parental rules.

I see a lot of young, fit men and boys on BART and Muni who don't. Some are Chinese, who have no such rule (Filipinos do, they had an idea of Chivalry even before the Spanish showed up), but plenty are white, and should have learned correct behavior.

Rick said...

"Baby on Board"

I was told it's just a clump of cells.

Sydney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buwaya said...

The Birkenhead Drill should be taught in the schools.
Yes, its the Patriarchy at work.

Paddy O said...

Theres been a resurgence of non-ironic Baby on Board on ccars in the 5 years or so. I see them regularly now after not seeing them for years.

I'm reminded ofthe great Be Sharps signature song "Baby on Board".

Chris N said...

Nothing is going to make some people act respectfully towards a pregnant woman (especially on the subway) but when you take away chivalry, it probably doesn't help.

Original Mike said...

Reminds me of the flags liberals put at crosswalks. It used to be people took it upon themselves to cross the street without getting hit. Now they grab the flag and charge across the street without even looking, thinking the stupid flag relieves them of the reponsibility to look out for themselves.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Pregnancy is not the only reason for needing a seat, though at the point pregnancy becomes obvious, it's one of the conditions that announces itself, so we have the idea that people are mean if they won't give up their seat to someone we know is pregnant. The button allows any woman to get in on the shaming that obviously pregnant women already wield

Gee, just a few days ago on a great blog I read I heard we probably have an obligation to change the fundamentals of our society and/or economy to account for the fact that childbearing (and child rearing) are so important. Now I'm reading that it'd be wrong to assume that any specific person bearing a child needs a given level of assistance or "help" from society--that we shouldn't assume they need to be treated differently.
I'm just not sure what to think.

(I'd think that "good manners" would solve most of the problem here, but of course "good manners" were a tool of the patriarchy and have been purged from our culture...so I guess buttons are at least something to try.)

Todd said...

buwaya said... [hush]​[hide comment]
I taught the boys to always give up their seat for a lady of any condition, anywhere.

That should be one of those parental rules.

I see a lot of young, fit men and boys on BART and Muni who don't. Some are Chinese, who have no such rule (Filipinos do, they had an idea of Chivalry even before the Spanish showed up), but plenty are white, and should have learned correct behavior.

5/15/17, 7:36 AM


Conceptually, I get your point. I was raised from an early age to do those sorts of things, for so long that it is a second nature but I am on the fence for the younger fellas as I have seen and experienced the "shit on" that many men get from younger women that "need a man like a fish needs a bicycle". Between that and the "I can open my own damn door." sorts it is far safer to act blind around women and let them fend for themselves. The only way much of that will change is if men give women what they have been asking for "good and hard" (no pun intended). When women again act like ladies maybe it won't be too late for men to again act like gentlemen. Just saying...

buwaya said...

Its odd, I guess, that in 32 years in and about the SF Bay Area, mostly in San Francisco proper, with very frequent travel on public transportation, I have never had, or seen, a negative reaction to acts of gallantry.

One would think this is the epicenter, or the second after NYC, for that sort of foolishness, but it seems not to be so.

Mary Beth said...

The phrase comes from an old sign that used to be stuck in the rear windows of cars, conveying the message that other drivers should be more careful than usual because there is a baby in that one car.

I thought they were there to let first responders know to look for a baby in case there was an accident.

SGT Ted said...

I thought it wasn't a baby until it came out.

SeanF said...

Original Mike: Reminds me of the flags liberals put at crosswalks. It used to be people took it upon themselves to cross the street without getting hit. Now they grab the flag and charge across the street without even looking, thinking the stupid flag relieves them of the responsibility to look out for themselves.

My father, who was a police officer, was very critical of the law requiring drivers to stop for school buses. He thought that it just served to teach the kids that they didn't have to look out for traffic, which obviously would not serve them well later in life.

TestTube said...

I think someone is going to get promoted for this idea, someone else -- someone who is connected -- is going to make nice coin producing the buttons and running the promotional campaign, New York will get slightly more expensive to live in, and nothing else is going to change.

I also remain grateful that I do not have to use public transportation.

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

My super dooper white privilege permits me to open doors for women and for people right behind me, to stand when a woman enters the room, to offer my seat to those more infirm than I, to women (preg or not). So. There.

Sebastian said...

""On board" implies that that a woman is a vehicle, a thing, so it's dehumanizing." "Sovereign territory" implies that a woman is a country, a physical space, but that is politically useful, so it's not dehumanizing.

Anonymous said...

EDH said...
What about those who identify as being pregnant?

Best comment of the week!

London Girl said...

Don't know what it's like in the US but when I was pregnant in London people were pretty good about offering me a seat. Actually, a couple of times I was offered a seat when I wasn't pregnant. Which was embarrassing.

These buttons were introduced in London about 10 years ago. I think that was the reasoning - sometimes people don't give up their seats to pregnant women because they don't want to accidentally offend a fat person. However. Can't say I ever wore one. Mostly people gave me a seat, and if they didn't and it was an issue I am capable of asking. Non problem basically.

Matthew Sablan said...

I only sit on trains that are more than half empty. I have to sit at my desk way too long as is. It makes it so I don't have to give up my seat.

It is fun watching a bunch of people start giving each other the awkward seat give up chicken glances when someone comes in with a cane or something.

Steven said...

It's also a terrible idea because it's completely unnecessary. If no one notices you need a seat, just as for one! If you directly ask people for a seat, they will give it to you. My wife and I lived in New York while she was pregnant. She would ask for a seat and someone would get up.

Fernandinande said...

"I'm Very Fat and My Feet Hurt".

So please offer me your Cheetos.

Matthew Sablan said...

"When women again act like ladies maybe it won't be too late for men to again act like gentlemen."

-- The point of being nice to people isn't to make them be nice to you.

Also, being nice to women, alone, isn't chivalry. Chivalry is a fairly detailed code that also, for example, includes taking up arms to defend priests and children.

Inga said...

Between that and the "I can open my own damn door." sorts it is far safer to act blind around women and let them fend for themselves."

"Its odd, I guess, that in 32 years in and about the SF Bay Area, mostly in San Francisco proper, with very frequent travel on public transportation, I have never had, or seen, a negative reaction to acts of gallantry."

I've never seen such behavior either. I've only ever said thank you and have heard other women saying thank you to someone, anyone, opening the door for them.

Matthew Sablan said...

"I've never seen such behavior either."

-- I've been on the receiving end of comments like, "my arms work you know," and the like. It's incredibly rare, and I recommend just smiling and nodding like you would to anyone was making something out of nothing.

Michael K said...

"Actually, a couple of times I was offered a seat when I wasn't pregnant. Which was embarrassing. "

My wife was at a small gathering at my sons' and met a young women friend of theirs. She said, "When is the baby due?"

The women said, "I'm not pregnant."

Whoops !

Matthew Sablan said...

[To be fair, I've also had men be rude about things. Watching a guy struggle with some piece of furniture on his own and asking if he needs a hand got a pretty rude response. Some people are jerks; minimize interactions with them to make life happier.]

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

A couple weeks ago I got a few fleeting moments of internet fame by pointing out that President Trump asks for the order (vote, support or whatever he wants at the moment) and that this is why he was successful.

This button strikes me as wimpy and useless because it doesn't ask for anything. It doesn't ask for a seat. It doesn't even say "I'm pregnant and my feet hurt" though it sort of implies it. Or maybe not, after all the nonsense about the car signs over the years. People may have no idea what it implies.

I would see that button on a pregnant woman, especially if dressed in a heavy coat and not obviously pregnant, and think "Silly button. I wonder what's up with that?

If that button is going to work at all, it needs to ask. The Baby on Board is OK but they need to add "And I could really use a seat", "could you let me have your seat?" or some such.

You have to ask to get. You don't ask, you won't get. This button doesn't ask.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I see a business opportunity. In a couple weeks street vendors will be selling buttons with

"Baby on Board but carries no cash"

"No baby on board but I identify as pregnant" (Do you claim copyright, EDH?)

I'm not pregnant but I am a woman and entitled, give me your fucking seat"

I was taught to give up my seat for any woman in a bus, train or whatever. Now? Screw 'em. They want equality? They can play the same musical chairs as the rest of us. Besides I am of a certain age and my feet hurt much of the time. If I get a seat, I'll hang on like grim death.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I forgot a button:

"I am not pregnant nor am I a woman but I identify as one and thus am entitled. Give me your fucking seat"

John Henry

My name goes here. said...

"Everyone — including every pregnant person — has a different level of need for a seat on a train."

No. Just no. If you are pregnant, you are a woman.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Matthew,

I learned the hard way not to offer someone trying to negotiate a curb in a wheelchair any help.

John HEnry

My name goes here. said...

Is it uncouth to wear one of these signs on your way to your abortion?

exhelodrvr1 said...

Can't the government just mandate (person-date) that women get special privileges on subways?

khesanh0802 said...

Not being female I suppose I shouldn't speak about pregnancy, but feel that it's good to look at both ends of the spectrum: those who need special treatment during pregnancy and those that don't. My first wife was one of those that don't. A few weeks late she played four sets of mixed doubles in the afternoon at the O club in Quantico -and it was not petty pat tennis. She then started into labor late that evening with 20 minute, or less, intervals (panic) and by the time I dropped her of at the hospital and had parked the car she had given birth. She was very lucky to have the physicality and mental attitude to make pregnancy pretty simple.

Original Mike said...

I'm a reflexive door-opener, men or women. But now, when I'm in the middle of it and I see it's a women I'm opening the door for I feel guilty. Can't help it though; it really is an ingrained behavior.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Between that and the "I can open my own damn door." sorts it is far safer to act blind around women and let them fend for themselves.

I've tried the act blind around women thing.

It was a chilly day, and I attempted to read the braille of her tee-shirt...

Gahrie said...

"On board" implies that that a woman is a vehicle, a thing, so it's dehumanizing.

You know what is really dehumanizing? Denying the fact that fetuses are human and have rights.

Owen said...

Slightly OT: "No problem" has replaced "you're welcome" for many who perform minor courtesies such as holding a door open. I question this usage. "No problem" means, in effect, "You might have been a problem for me but WTF, I did it anyway, get over it." A kind of neutrality bordering on frozen indifference. No connection to speak of.

Whereas "You're welcome" is a direct and positive engagement. It means, in effect, "I acknowledge your expression of thanks. Whatever effort it took me to earn it, I hereby set aside; your thanks make us equal and, indeed, I celebrate the small bond we've created here."

I do think these little courtesies are a big part of what makes society work.

And I do think we are losing them.

wildswan said...

"if you do not jump up and politely offer your seat, you will have confirmed my worst suspicions."

And also if you do. See Owen

"Owen said...
Giving up your seat is a microaggression. I learned that at the Misogyny Reeducation Center."

When opposites are true within a culture, the culture is collapsing.

n.n said...

Traditionally, people were not aborted for politely asking questions when there was probable cause. Traditionally, it was routine for people to be courteous (e.g. open door) as a matter of principle. In modern societies, you may become the target of a baby hunt, or worse, a baby trial, leading to catastrophic anthropogenic climate change including: career, fiscal, or social death.

Gahrie said...

I've never seen such behavior either. I've only ever said thank you and have heard other women saying thank you to someone, anyone, opening the door for them.

I've been slapped for it.

tcrosse said...

A number of countries offer women-only subway cars. But in US cities this would only expand the Which-Bathroom-Should-I-Use problem to mass transit.

John said...

I held an elevator door for a young couple this weekend at a hospital. She was clearly pregnant. The experience was very disappointing - until the end:
1) They showed no additional urgency while the 3 of us waited for them to get to the elevator;
2) The boy - clearly not a man - got on first;
3) Neither said 'thank you'.

After they got off on a floor before us, my 19-year-old son leaned over to me and said: " what a couple of jerks".

n.n said...

Common courtesy was traditionally an organic expression cultivated at home, at church, and in communities of people with common principles. This changed with the progress of dysfunctional male-female relationships, not-for-profit for-profit civil enterprises, and deprecation of diversity with class orientation.

Owen said...

Wildswan: "...When opposites are true within a culture, the culture is collapsing."

Interesting and it seems intuitively true. But isn't culture the place where we try to reconcile opposites? Generate a synthesis or something?

Or is it a series of parallel cultures, with independent value sets, that clash (and separate) or align (and reinforce)?

Discuss...

Fernandinande said...

"A student reported that a sign encouraging cleaning up after oneself was sexist."

Bias Type: Gender
Location: Housing
Response: A BRT Advocate met with the reporter and empowered them to contact Housing staff. A BRT Case Manager followed up to ensure that the sign was removed, and the program staff had an educational conversation about the issue.

Owen said...

John: "...'what a couple of jerks'." Have to agree with your son.

I was recently at a gathering of Elite Scions --kids about to graduate from an Ivy school. They were in some ways polite enough but in others completely clueless about basic courtesy. I don't think this was just us old fogeys getting upset about nothing. We were there to enthuse for them: but I noticed it anyway.

A kind of solipsism. For the advanced version, picture everybody in the scene staring at their goddamned smartphone.

Darrell said...

It's how Laslo's "Man with a Lactation Fetish" finds new sources.

Kirk Parker said...


Buwaya,

I have a friend who went and taught in Hong Kong for a number of years. At first he was surprised at the fact that little old ladies, and pregnant young ones, etc, seemed to receive no deference on public transportation. Don't the Chinese, like all Asians -- ok, like everyone outside the despicable West, respect elders.

Gradually, the realization dawned on him: the Chinese have absolutely no respect for generic "elders". What they have, instead, is a huge respect for their own elders--but these anonymous people on public transportation were literally nobody to them.


And Inga's latest confirms that either (1) she's led an incredibly sheltered life, or that (2) she'll lie for the cause.

Inga said...

Kirk Parker,

Is Buwaya lying too? He said basically the same thing I did. Speaking of jerks, Kirk, you are one.

Inga said...

And just what do you think the "cause" is Kirk, the jerk?

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Matthew Sablan said...

Also, being nice to women, alone, isn't chivalry. Chivalry is a fairly detailed code that also, for example, includes taking up arms to defend priests and children.

And Chivalry also had quite a few rules on how ladies were supposed to behave, if I recall correctly. Feminists declared those rules invalid decades ago. It's past time the rules governing men were also scrapped, IMO.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Original Mike said...
Reminds me of the flags liberals put at crosswalks. It used to be people took it upon themselves to cross the street without getting hit. Now they grab the flag and charge across the street without even looking, thinking the stupid flag relieves them of the reponsibility to look out for themselves.

Seriously? Never seen that. Where?

Darrell said...

The last time I was lectured for holding a door was during the 1970s. Then I got the lecture about a dozen times--same for giving up a seat. My rewaction? A smile and a 'Pardom me!"

Christopher said...

Slightly OT: "No problem" has replaced "you're welcome" for many who perform minor courtesies such as holding a door open.

Yeah, this is common usage with young people, like my friendly local neighborhood baristas. Many times when I've said "thank you" while having my latte served, I get the "no problem" and have stopped myself from saying "Correct, when you give me a latte I paid for, it is not a problem." But it's just breezy millennial-speak. They're pretty nice people.

And for the record, I've gotten my share of dirty looks from women for holding doors open and the like.

Matthew Sablan said...

I make a deliberate mental effort to not answer "Thank you" with "No problem."

Darrell said...

Some years later--1990-2000--I got a nice speech about how nice it was that I held the door. One said it was the first time anyone had done that for her.

Original Mike said...

@JohnAnnArbor - In Madison, at a bunch of crosswalks. There are holders on each side of the street and you pick up a little orange flag and wave it over your head while you cross the street. Problem is, some people treat it like Star Trek like shields and go charging across the street without looking, asserting their rights.

Lem said...

If you have to ask, we are all better off if the people not paying that kind of attention are indisposed while seated. Buttons are a bad idea.

Crazy Jane said...


All this tells us is that the Transit Authority has too many employees.

John said...

"Or is it a series of parallel cultures, with independent value sets, that clash (and separate) or align (and reinforce)?"

I don't recall ever taking an etiquette, respect or courtesy class growing up [formative years 1960' & 70's]. I believe it was 'taught' through observation and society - the older man who gives you a stern glance when you step out of line or the woman who smiles at you when you do something nice for another. I think most of us just picked up these signals - good and bad - and adapted. Most of us sought positive reactions and avoided negative.

I can't say this is the fault of the obsession with smartphones getting all the attention because the behavior has diminished long before this point. Maybe it was the Walkman?!?

Livermoron said...

Prof. Althouse your depiction of the reason for having 'Baby on Board' signs on your car is incorrect. These signs originated in Germany in the early 1980s ('Baby an Bord' auf Deutsch). The signs were meant as a notice to rescuers in the event of an auto accident to look for a very small person in the wreckage.

The notion that it is for other drivers, while commonly held, doesn't pass the smell test.

Lem said...

I've heard and maybe read also that most communication in none verbal, not literary. Wearing an otherwise obvious signal, signals back that you aren't clued in to your immediate surrounding. That you are handicapped.

Original Mike said...

"The signs were meant as a notice to rescuers in the event of an auto accident to look for a very small person in the wreckage."

Isn't the big frikken baby car seat a clue?

Lem said...

A free society is one where the opportunity to fail is respected.

Kirk Parker said...

Whoa.

To be personally-abominated by "Inga" is the second-highest honor an Althouse commenter can received. Today's my day...

As far as buwaya goes, I'm pretty sure he has the reading comprehension to understand that I was confirming/illustrating his point, not disputing it.

Thorley Winston said...

Neither of my parents taught me to give up my seat for a pregnant woman (I can’t think of the last time we rode a bus or other public transportation together where the issue might have come up) but I must have picked it up somewhere as being the “right thing to do” when I was in school and rode the bus frequently. However after having been the work force for most of my life and having to constantly fill in for co-workers who leave early, arrive late or “work” remotely because of their kids and also having to work longer hours for co-workers on maternity leave, I am now at the point where I no longer feel any sort of obligation to people merely because they chose to have kids. I don’t know if I would give up my seat on a bus or train to someone who was pregnant but if someone told me I had to or that I should, I might push back just on general principle. And if they wear a button announcing their sense of entitlement, I’ll just pretend that I didn’t see it.

Livermoron said...

Car seats in the 80s weren't mandatory or as large as those today...

This button is just further infantilization of women. Chicks ain't smart enough or self-confident enough to speak up for themselves?

Wanna bet a man was behind this?

James K said...

Slightly OT: "No problem" has replaced "you're welcome"

I've noticed this too, and also don't like it. Put simply, it replaces an affirmative with a non-negative, like replacing "I love you" with "I don't dislike you."

Owen said...

Lem: "...Buttons are a bad idea."

In an ironic way, I agree. So I propose that we all wear buttons saying exactly that. "F**k Buttons!" Serious money-making opportunity here, people.

Also wanted to say that if firefighters are counting on a plastic sign in the rear window to alert them to the need to rescue a baby, they are worse off than I thought. At a minimum it should be on the bumper and used standard symbology --like tanker trucks telling HazMat teams what horrible things they contain. So I call BS on this.

Ann Althouse said...

"The original purpose of BOB stickers was to alert emergency responders in case of an accident."

That is a myth (according to the internet).

Owen said...

James K: "...replaces an affirmative with a non-negative." Yes. So we have gone from a world whose equilibrium was "I acknowledge you and return the compliment" to one which is saying "Who the f**k are you anyway?"

A big difference there, actually.

I am in a contentious mood, so feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

You're...welcome.

Thorley Winston said...

Slightly OT: "No problem" has replaced "you're welcome"

I find myself having to make a conscious effort to say “thank you” or “thanks” instead of “no problem.” I’m not sure whose fault this is. I remember “no problem” being popular in the 80s-90s (e.g. The Simpsons, Terminator 2 Judgment Day, etc.) so it was either started by Generation X or by the Baby Boomers who ran and/or wrote the movies and television programs of that era.




John said...

"In 1986 a study conducted by a Bronx assemblyman’s office found humorous plays on the “Baby on Board” sign outnumbered the real thing by five to one.

Including: "Elected Offical in Trunk" and "Cash for Useless Study in Glove Box"

Livermoron said...

Not a myth. I was there and experienced it.

How does one adjust their driving because another car has a BoB sticker?
Ridiculous.

Lem said...

If abortion on demand was not a thing maybe I would feel differently about the ribbon 🎀

Why aren't you wearing the ribbon?

Kirk Parker said...

Livermoron,

I'll take Urban Legends for 20, Alex.

JohnAnnArbor said...

In Madison, at a bunch of crosswalks. There are holders on each side of the street and you pick up a little orange flag and wave it over your head while you cross the street. Problem is, some people treat it like Star Trek like shields and go charging across the street without looking, asserting their rights.

How spectacularly silly. I'm surprised Ann Arbor hasn't done it.

Livermoron said...

Owen, it wasn't required by first responders. It was just a safety thing (efficacious or not) that the parents would use. A bumper sticker would not work because you can't take it off when there are no babies in the car? That is why the signs were hung on hooks suction-cupped to the window.

Use some logic, folks.

JohnAnnArbor said...

So I looked up Madison pedestrian flags on Google, and look at this article quoting our host on the issue!

JohnAnnArbor said...

The blog post in question.

Todd said...

Livermoron said... [hush]​[hide comment]
Owen, it wasn't required by first responders. It was just a safety thing (efficacious or not) that the parents would use. A bumper sticker would not work because you can't take it off when there are no babies in the car? That is why the signs were hung on hooks suction-cupped to the window.

Use some logic, folks.

5/15/17, 11:21 AM


Not sure if true but I always thought it analogous to houses with the "baby inside / child inside" window stickers so firemen would know to check for a kid in there, in an emergency.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Not sure if true but I always thought it analogous to houses with the "baby inside / child inside" window stickers so firemen would know to check for a kid in there, in an emergency.

Right, for houses. Those were reasonably common in the 1970s, I recall.

Richard said...

I always thought that the purpose of the Baby on Board sign was to inform the other drivers to hit a different car.

buwaya said...

I am just a data point.

But to repeat, if needed, re Inga, I haven't personally seen a case where a woman objected to the usual courtesies or gallantries, in spite of living a fairly active life in a place where such a thing can be assumed to happen. This also in places like the local universities.

Why, I don't know. Its possibly a matter of aspect, or how one carries oneself, and may not always be some sort of ideological statement.

As to Kirk - absolutely, this sort of generic courtesy is not a Chinese custom. If you find Chinese doing things like this, it is a behavior they have learned in their overseas cultures. Asians are not all alike, far from it.

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Owen said...

"Right, for houses." I am sympathetic to firefighters who have plenty enough trouble without getting more-precise cues like "beware paint cans in cellar" or "please look first for baby in upstairs bedroom first door on the left." Maybe homeowners should be required (or encouraged by insurers) to provide such info?

I just don't know that the "Baby On Board" sign --widely marketed to anybody who could lick a suction cup-- was going to convey useful information in a highway wreck situation...

Given our smartphones, of course, we could all do much better in this respect.

Inga said...

"But to repeat, if needed, re Inga, I haven't personally seen a case where a woman objected to the usual courtesies or gallantries, in spite of living a fairly active life in a place where such a thing can be assumed to happen. This also in places like the local universities."

Thank you Buwaya for having the decency ( and guts) to say that we are in agreement here.

Inga said...

Kirk Parker,
I was also affirming Buwaya's comment. So tell me why you jumped down my throat? Just because you are a jerk? Or your reading comprehension is poor? Yes, probably, both. And since you think it's an honor for me to express "abomination" toward you, sure you're an abominable character. You are welcome, my pleasure.

n.n said...

How does one adjust their driving because another car has a BoB sticker?

A baby has underdeveloped skeletal and muscular features. The premise of the argument is that a car with the baby will demonstrate slower responses (e.g. braking) in order to reduce sudden acceleration, thereby dampening the kinetic energy of its occupants. This translates to other cars either bypassing or avoiding (e.g. distancing) the spaces near a car with a baby on board. Something similar happens during a rainstorm that creates standing water, but the adjustment is done with both a personal and secondary (i.e. other car) motive.

Livermoron said...

n.n. .........uh........sure.......go with that.

Kevin said...

I taught the boys to always give up their seat for a lady of any condition, anywhere.

That should be one of those parental rules.


It used to be one of society's rules. But then the feminists didn't want to be treated differently because they were a woman, so we live in a more progressive society now.

Kevin said...

The original purpose of BOB stickers was to alert emergency responders in case of an accident.

No the original purpose was to alert you to run your car into a wall or another vehicle rather than the one with the sign. It allowed the driver who was about to collide with your vehicle the additional opportunity to signal his virtue as he took out three other cars instead of yours.

Kevin said...

And will subway riders with seats respond by giving them what they're wearing those buttons to try to say?

In the age when every baby is a choice, not a child, why should they give up their seats for someone else's life choice?

Inga said...

Common decency seems to be in short supply nowadays. It shouldn't be such a huge issue to give a helping hand, open a door, give up your seat, etc etc. to anyone of any gender of it appears they could use your assistance.

Kevin said...

Common decency seems to be in short supply nowadays.

Funny how mocking the deplorables for clinging to their guns and religion undermines the idea there is anything common about how decency is determined in today's society.

The Pottery Barn rule doesn't just apply to foreign countries.

Todd said...

Inga said...

Common decency seems to be in short supply nowadays. It shouldn't be such a huge issue to give a helping hand, open a door, give up your seat, etc etc. to anyone of any gender of it appears they could use your assistance.

5/15/17, 12:31 PM


It isn't (or wasn't) and used to be normal. As a kid it was not uncommon to get a quick slap to the head for demonstrating ANY sort of ill-mannered behavior. Then times changed. Some very vocal women decided that it was a personal affront to their "person-hood" to be shown common courtesy or a sign of the patriarchy or some-such. Couples also stopped teaching their offspring simple courtesies like behaving in restaurants or movie theaters, saying "yes ma-am", "yes sir", and "thank you". That all was so quaint and old fashioned. No room or time in the "modern age" where women need men like fish need bicycles and such. Some of us still fight the good fight but between getting older and learning to not give a sh*t (see you CAN teach an old dog new tricks especially when you hit them with a stick long enough) treating most women like ladies is dying out.

Welcome to getting what you wanted. Hope you enjoy it.

n.n said...

Livermoron:

Go with what? I explained the logic of an argument. Whether the conclusion follows the premise is a theoretical which exhibits varying degrees of correlation in the real world. Another example is the sign "Men at Work", or "Children Present", and people adjust their driving behavior accordingly, both with personal and external motives.

Delayna said...

Are you supposed to take them off before leaving the abortion clinic?

n.n said...

In the age when every baby is a choice, not a child, why should they give up their seats

It would be silly... nay, stupid, even masochistic, if that child was deemed not viable (i.e. unwanted, inconvenient, ideological liability). I suppose courtesy is to Choice as vaccine is to disease. It's a protocol with proportionately greater benefits in a situation with unknown or unpredictable but mortal risks (e.g. Planned Parenthood).

Inga said...

Todd,

You are assuming you know what women want. It's apparent you don't. You sound like one of those perpetually aggrieved men who haven't been successful in life and blame it on women. Also it seems that the men who don't question their own maleness are not so negatively affected by feminism, or women in general.

William Chadwick said...

Anything's better than those stupid stick-figure-family decals that seem to have replaced the Baby on Board stickers as the Yuppie way of saying, "Hey, we procreated!"

Kevin said...

I suppose courtesy is to Choice as vaccine is to disease.

Tell it to the people who chose Trump and are now being continually showered with said courtesy.

n.n said...

Kevin:

Well, I have stated that vaccines are part of a risk management protocol. They are not a magical elixir. They do have side-effects, debilitating injury, even mortal risks. The same applies to courtesy. The decision will follow with individual exposure, circumstance, and judgment.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Mr. Chadwick, regarding those stickers.

walter said...

6. Ignorant, unsophisticated types will think "Baby on board" is a pro infant surfing message.

JohnAnnArbor said...

There's this one, too.

Todd said...

Inga said...
Todd,

You are assuming you know what women want. It's apparent you don't. You sound like one of those perpetually aggrieved men who haven't been successful in life and blame it on women. Also it seems that the men who don't question their own maleness are not so negatively affected by feminism, or women in general.

5/15/17, 1:52 PM


LOL! I am not assuming anything. I am stating encountered behaviors. I find it funny that when I (and some others) express encountered reactions to chivalrous and courteous behavior that doesn't match your expectations or experiences you label me as "aggrieved". Also, not knowing me nor my life you "label" me as unsuccessful and blaming my lot on women. I am personally quite satisfied with my life not that your opinion matters as I have well witnessed your interactions with others. Me thinks there is a not small bit of projection in your words. Also, I have not been negatively affected by women other than the burden "modern" women place on all of society in that they want all of the freedoms to act as they wish, when they wish but also demand to avoid any and all responsibility for their actions. "I am woman, hear me roar! Buy my birth control pills!" "I can have it ALL and now that I do and am older, with a ticking biological clock, where is the great man I am owed?"

I really don't care how women, men, anyone messes up their own beds. Have at it. You are adults. What I care about is when your mess spills onto everyone else and you EXPECT the rest of us to feel sorry for you and to clean it up for you. You and others like you are actively working on this tearing down of society and social norms. Welcome to the results. Again, hope you are happy laying in the bed you helped make.

Inga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inga said...

Todd, not knowing me you claimed this:

"Welcome to getting what you wanted. Hope you enjoy it."

"What I care about is when your mess spills onto everyone else and you EXPECT the rest of us to feel sorry for you and to clean it up for you. You and others like you are actively working on this tearing down of society and social norms. Welcome to the results. Again, hope you are happy laying in the bed you helped make."

Now don't be a hypocrite. You don't like me making assumptions about your life, don't make assumptions about mine.

urbane legend said...

Michael said...
My super dooper white privilege permits me to open doors for women and for people right behind me, to stand when a woman enters the room, to offer my seat to those more infirm than I, to women (preg or not). So. There.

This still goes on in the South. I also do these things. I have yet to have anyone complain. Women say "thank you" for the door holding courtesy and so do most men. I have had one or two women say thank you with a hint of surprise in their voice, blended with delight.

William Chadwick said...

Thanks for the link, JohnAnnArbor. I didn't know anyone else thought those stick-figure stickers stupid until I saw one of my neighbors with a decal on his car showing his SUV riding over a stick-figure family and grinding them into hamburger. The caption was, "Nobody gives a @#$% about your stupid stick-figure family."

William Chadwick said...

Hey, thanks for that other link, JohnAnnArbor! I like that version with the attack helicopter even more than I like the version on my neighbor's car.

Kevin said...

The decision will follow with individual exposure, circumstance, and judgment.

Agreed. I was commenting to the more general case that posters made about how the courtesy under discussion was to be considered part of "decent" society, and therefore was to be offered in all circumstances - the people making the buttons in the article included. They substitute their own judgment for everyone else's under a moral code they may otherwise spend significant time attacking and calling outdated.

Just taking the time to point out the hypocrisy and the costs of their rhetoric. In the bad old days, we didn't need buttons.

Kevin said...

My super dooper white privilege permits me to open doors for women and for people right behind me, to stand when a woman enters the room, to offer my seat to those more infirm than I, to women (preg or not). So. There.

Does a black woman trump a white woman who's pregnant? What if the black woman is a Somali refugee on her way to gender reassignment surgery? If they both arrive at the same time, to whom do you give your seat?

In the age of competitive victimization, we can't be surprised when previously-privileged pregnant women find themselves near the bottom of the grievance pile. Or if previously-chivalrous white men avoid the subway and start taking Uber.

Mark said...

Too many prior comments to read them all, so sorry if this is repetitive, but I would not be surprised really if someone were to loudly condemn these "Baby on Board" buttons as being anti-choice.

Todd said...

Inga said...

Now don't be a hypocrite. You don't like me making assumptions about your life, don't make assumptions about mine.

5/15/17, 3:02 PM


I truly don't believe I have in that my comments were aimed at the generic "modern woman" of which you present yourself to be. Fully liberated and liberal. Expects the government to do for you what you can't do for yourself or get a man to do for you. I base this on your comments and interactions with others on this site. I don't believe I have ever specifically called you or your life pathetic or sad or any other such thing and have not ever claimed (that I can recall) to have commented on your personal happiness or quality of life. You come across as someone with a bit of a chip on their shoulder which is not unique to you. Me personally, just want to be left alone to do my own thing without others trying to tell me what to do. One who longs for far fewer busybodies in the world. You strike me as a busybody. Someone that wants to tell others what to do and how to do it and some of "it" includes taking money from me (taxes and such) and giving/spending it on stuff that it is not the governments job to spend on. I also think people should (I said should) treat each other better but that is part of the social contract. You treat others as you wish to be treated. Eventually some folks get fed up with always extending the benefit of the doubt and getting slapped for their trouble. After awhile one grows cautious as to whom one extends effort. The global "you and yours", I feel have helped get us to this place. Demand other do for you but don't reciprocate AND refuse to admit that the opposition has any legitimacy to their position (again based on your comments to others on this site). So there we are.

Unknown said...

Oblivious people are oblivious to their obliviousness.
People can have excruciating foot pain that no one sees--but just try to ask for a seat on that basis. No one will believe you.
We have become much less sympathetic to pregnant women or to families with children. It is sad.

Inga said...

Ah Todd,

Your comments are replete with generalizations and exaggerations of what you think is the "modern liberated liberal woman". As I said earlier, I don't think you understand women, much less modern women, liberal women and even less so, me. And Todd, you addressed me first, you quoted a fairly mild comment I made and went of on your tangent. As for "chips on the shoulder", that is how you struck me. That is why I made the comment about you reminding me of the perpetually aggrieved male. Who is trying to control you? Do your own thing and stop blaming women and liberals for the ills of the country. You probably voted for Trump, you got what you wanted, yet you're still complaining about having to pay taxes, etc. There is a Republican House, Senate and President. Don't blame me for your dissatisfaction.

buwaya said...

Besides anything else, I have one grievous complaint about the modern liberal woman - they have ruined the Liberal Arts in US K-12, and in doing so, in college as well. And this I have seen, over and over, personally.

Everything is oriented towards female literature and the female approach to literature, to the extent that the poor boys assume thats what literature is - a stinking mass of putrid pointless emotion and melodrama.

"Literature" is not about things and events, but pointless obsession over feelings. No great literature, no true achievements of the human race have a place in this smothering swamp. Only the very best schools escape this, and that only to a degree.

Owen said...

Buwaya: great comment about the destruction of literature. Not sure that any schools have escaped; which do you have in mind, and what explains their relative success?

buwaya said...

Well, I used to admire what the Palo Alto high schools managed to do, but it seems that lately they have also joined the rush to useless garbage.

Fen said...

Dumb idea. If people refuse to give up their seat for an obviously pregnant woman, what good will a button do.

And I'm reminded all the times I lumbered to the door, arms full, while clueless women didn't even bother to see if someone needed help with the dood.

American women. Most spoiled creatures on the planet.

I still hold doors and give up seats though. Basic principle - you don't cheat just because you think the other team is cheating. That's not what virtue or honor is about.