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To think that pregnancy is an equalities issue?

(55 Posts)
Bathtimesoaker Thu 17-Oct-13 16:30:09

I've just seen the story about Jo Swinson MP, who is currently 7 month pregnant and an Equalities Minister. She didn't have a seat at today's PMQ's and had to stand to watch the proceedings. Apparantly an aide has said that 'the idea that people should be outraged on her behalf is ridiculous. The idea that just because she is seven months pregnant she has lost all ability to stand on her two feeet or fend for herself is quite sexist'.

I feel like we are going back in time, to a place where we have to ask for our rights instead of automatically having them. Maybe IAMBU but a Minister for Women and Equalities shouldn't allow people close to her to say comments like the above. It's not sexist to take a seat when pregnant.

KatAndKit Thu 17-Oct-13 16:33:14

Although her two feet still work it is common courtesy to offer your seat to someone less able to stand. Nothing to do with sexism, just thoughtfulness. In the same way, a 7 month pregnant woman ought to give up her seat if a man with a broken leg shows up.

FortyDoorsToNowhere Thu 17-Oct-13 16:33:22

I think it's rather rude not to offer a pregnant women a seat.

I don't think it about equalities, but about respect.

hermioneweasley Thu 17-Oct-13 16:34:49

Equality is not about everyone being the same. As a 7 month pregnant woman she is less able to stand and therefore someone more able to stand should have offered their seat.

SaucyJack Thu 17-Oct-13 16:34:57

TBF I bet she would've attracted at least as much criticism from the "pregnancy is not an illness" brigade if she had asked for a seat.

Can't bloody win either way.

YouTheCat Thu 17-Oct-13 16:35:36

I would never assume an automatic seat because of pregnancy, although I probably have better manners than most cabinet ministers and would have offered anyway. If she needed one she could have asked for one. If she was then refused one, then that would be a bit crap tbh.

TEErickOrTEEreat Thu 17-Oct-13 16:36:47

Exactly SaucyJack. She had no way to win this and I would be very very surprised if she didn't approve that comment or if that comment doesn't line up with her policies and ideals.

nosleeptillbedtime Thu 17-Oct-13 16:37:16

That aide was a tosser. I was exhausted for chunks of my pregnancy and would have much appreciated a seat.

Bathtimesoaker Thu 17-Oct-13 16:50:14

I really do think this is an Equalities issue. In a heterosexual relationship women are the only people biologically capable of having children. It's not like we can delegate that job to our dp's we'd see change a lot sooner if that was the case

The fact is, you are carrying another person, it does make you tired, it does make you less able to stand for a long time and it can affect your balance. Pregnancy and Maternity is a protected characteristic and for the Equalities Minister to allow such a statement seems to be almost an admission that she doesn't think pregnant or nursing mothers should get equal treatment.

Tanith Thu 17-Oct-13 16:57:32

The equality should not be in making a pregnant woman stand; it's in expecting both men and women to offer her a seat.

FortyDoorsToNowhere Thu 17-Oct-13 17:02:03

However aides to Miss Swinson claimed the idea that she was not capable of standing was 'sexist'.

I think it's one of the question that is personal to how the women feels.

TEErickOrTEEreat Thu 17-Oct-13 17:30:30

Equal treatment is not preferential treatment.

What you're talking about the latter. She's pregnant, so she should get a seat.

What if there was only one seat and it was either her or a man with a cane. Who gets it?

mrsjay Thu 17-Oct-13 17:34:10

It is good manners to offer who is carrying another human being in them which might be a bit heavy a seat it isn't sexist or un equal it is basic manners, however if the woman didnt want the seat then that is fine it is a shame people are accused of being sexist if they are just being polite and concerned about somebody, OH i would give the man with a stick a seat before a pregnant woman

eurochick Thu 17-Oct-13 17:39:03

If a man was carrying a child in his arms it would be courteous to offer him a seat. The aide sounds like a twat.

mrsjay Thu 17-Oct-13 17:40:13

some folk get all caught up on the sexist thing that they dont see beyond it iyswim

Coupon Thu 17-Oct-13 17:41:12

There are all kinds of reasons a pregnant women may be needing a seat. She might have backache, dizziness, swollen ankles, sciatica, high blood pressure, nausea or gestational diabetes. And she'll be carring an extra couple of stone in weight.

Just because one person doesn't suffer from too many of the above doesn't give them the right to speak for all women.

FlapJackOLantern Thu 17-Oct-13 17:42:54

The trouble is that if someone HAD offered her a seat, the headline would have been the opposite. Perhaps people were afraid to offer her a seat because of that?

oliveoctagon Thu 17-Oct-13 17:44:18

Most mums carry on working 40 hours when pregnant in jobs that they can sit down in. Think this is a mountain out of a molehill imagine if she had a normal persons job.

oliveoctagon Thu 17-Oct-13 17:46:39


southwest1 Thu 17-Oct-13 17:48:58

She was late, that's why she didn't get a seat. You have to be there way in advance of PMQs to get a seat on the benches. Also you can't just sit anywhere, there's a hierarchy to where people sit.

At the end of the day if she'd been on time she'd have got a seat. There isn't enough space on the benches for all the

southwest1 Thu 17-Oct-13 17:50:04

That should say all the MPs.

MaidOfStars Thu 17-Oct-13 17:56:23

I have zero doubt that had she required a seat, she would have been more than capable of giving someone the nod. This was not a case of a shy retiring woman confronted with a bus full of truculent teenagers (although they sometimes behave like it). I agree with the aide - why make any assumption about how much she needed the seat, when she is the only person able to make that call?

MortifiedAdams Thu 17-Oct-13 18:02:01

She should have been given a seat because she was a pregnant person.A heavily pregnant person should be given a seat.

The fact that only women can get pregnant is irrelevant.

Bathtimesoaker Thu 17-Oct-13 18:05:05

This has got me quite worked up for some reason. Pregnancy and Maternity is a protected characteristic and actually the House of Commons has a duty to provide reasonable adjustments which it hasn't. As for a hierarchy then Jo Swinson is a Minister so surely some backbencher should and could offer her a seat.
In the situation where a man using a stick and a pregnant woman both needed or wanted to use a seat then surely two people who defined themselves as able bodied and able to stand should offer them both a seat?

Finally the aide has twisted the situation. To say she can't stand because she is pregnant is completely the wrong way of looking at it, they should have said that offering a seat to a pregnant woman is not sexist. I'm disappointed that an aide, who would have had to get their comments clearered before releasing them, could get it so wrong when representing equalities. Equality isn't about treating people the same, it's about recognising barriers and giving people the opportunities to reach the same goals.

NotYoMomma Thu 17-Oct-13 18:15:50

im 8.5 months pregnant and desperate for a seat today and no one offered. I was just about to ask when someone left anyway.

I was in so much pain. yes its not a disability or illness but fooking hell it can be very heavy, very painful and very tiring carrying about a baby!

people are so ignorant

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