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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.

CommanderShepard Fri 18-Oct-13 16:08:38

Did she want a seat? At that point I preferred to stand because my sciatic nerve was hell otherwise.

WishIHadAFunkyName Fri 18-Oct-13 15:01:28

On the rare times that someone did offer me a seat, I was so overwhelmed that I would say to them 'You're very kind but I'm ok. Thank you'. I was never offended and just thought that they were a really nice person.

Bathtimesoaker Fri 18-Oct-13 14:34:56

For me, offering a seat is manners and I agree that I don't see people do this often enough anymore. However pregnancy and maternity is a recognised equalities issue and it's not sexist to offer a seat nor is it wrong to accept one.

Women who don't require a seat when pregnant surely wouldn't be offended by the offer of one, or is this too big an assumption?

MistressIggi Fri 18-Oct-13 11:42:02

It's an equality issue as pregnancy disproportionately affects one gender. (Which seems obvious, but that is why it is an equality issue - any disadvantage caused by pg or maternity is experienced solely by one sex).

fluffyraggies Fri 18-Oct-13 10:53:41

A pregnant person who needs to sit down should be able to expect someone in less need to be gracious enough to give up their seat. It's human kindness and consideration.

In the same way that an elderly person who needs to sit down should be able to expect bla bla bla

Or a disabled person ...

Or a person with a child in arms ...

Or a person who feels ill.

I don't understand where feminism comes into this. Maybe i'm missing something?

WishIHadAFunkyName Fri 18-Oct-13 10:40:56

I hardly ever needed a seat on my work commute on the underground trains (not that I was offered many).
Thankfully, I felt fine and also, it wasn't really a long commute (45mins) but I would always offer a seat to a heavily pregnant woman because some people really do feel awful. I also offer seats to elderly people and those carrying children, with crutches etc.
I hardly ever see people offering their seat anymore. I think its pathetic to see fit and healthy people sitting when there are people forced to stand who may not be able to.
I think this is more about the lack of courtesy and increased selfishness in society than equal opportunities.

MistressIggi Fri 18-Oct-13 10:11:50

Soupdragon I think you are taking my post as being solely in response to yours, which it wasn't meant to be and apologies if that is how I framed it. It's just the comments from a number of posters about how they were fine to stand at however many months get to me - there have also been lots of women saying just how hard it was for them being pg, that shouldn't be ignored. And it is a fair comparison to elderly people who may be fitter than me, as both age and pregnancy are protected characteristics.

Goldenhandshake Fri 18-Oct-13 09:47:15

What NotYoMoma said, it has nothing to do with 'special treatment' for women, it is about common courtesy for someone who is probably uncomfortable, possibly in pain etc. I am only 17 weeks pregnant but have to use the tube for about 40 minutes of my journey, it gets very crowded, very hot and stuffy. I have fainted because I have not been able to get a seat, those who have offered seats have been lovely and if I am feeling fine I always politely decline but soem days I feel so sick, or dizzy and just know I am going to faint, so I really do need a seat. Last week I had to sit down on the floor at one point to stop myself passing out.

I am suprised at her aide's comments, they do no favours to the equality cause.

dellybobs Fri 18-Oct-13 09:18:37

mrsmonk I totally agree with you.
I would have certainly needed a seat. At 13 weeks pregnant i fainted after standing for less than ten minutes because i already had a low blood pressure pre pregnancy. I am 33 weeks now and i have a tiny bump and have bene very healthy and no other pregnancy niggles, and people look at me like im being melodramatic because i HAVE to sit down instead of standing. I can walk fine as long as the blood is flowing but as soon as i stop the blood pools and i faint or becoming a shaking quivering mess! I will sit on the floor of a train or kneel down in a supermarket qeue when a chair is not available its become that extreme.

SoupDragon Fri 18-Oct-13 09:12:16

She was standing talking to a colleague, and she was perfectly happy standing. She was perfectly happy being where she was and did not feel the need to have a seat. If she needed to have a seat, or had felt she wanted to have one, she would have been perfectly capable of asking.

SoupDragon Fri 18-Oct-13 09:07:32

it's up to me to be polite and show some respect.

I got the impression it was up to you to be sarcastic.

SoupDragon Fri 18-Oct-13 09:06:52


Yes, because that is exactly what I meant.

Has she complained? Has she said she needed or wanted a seat? Are people just getting worked up on her behalf?

She is pregnant, not sick, elderly or disabled.

MistressIggi Fri 18-Oct-13 09:05:28

I will ask the next elderly person I see standing on the bus whether they really need my seat before I think to offer it to them. After all many older people are able to stand on their own.
...except of course I won't, as it's not up to me to do a medical assessment, it's up to me to be polite and show some respect.

SoupDragon Fri 18-Oct-13 08:57:05

Did she need a seat?

I was perfectly capable of standing when 7 months pregnant.

Weller Fri 18-Oct-13 08:55:12

As someone who has offered their seat for then to realise with horror the person was not pregnant I am very weary. At seven months I just looked big.

MrsMook Fri 18-Oct-13 08:55:00

Low blood pressure meant that I struggled to stand from the start to the end of pregnancy as I'd go faint and sickly. It was a relief to get to the stage of being bumpy enough to get some offers of help. SPD meant that from 6 months standing and walking became increasingly difficult. At least getting myself some crutches this time at 7 months made a non-verbal statement that I was struggling.

It is polite to offer a pregnant woman a seat. She can decline if she wishes, but that puts her in a better position than struggling silently or appearing to be bolshy oe whingy.

notundermyfoof Fri 18-Oct-13 08:41:05

I don't get this, I would have been fine standing at 7 months pg and she obviously was too. Its different on public transport because of the risk of falling over or having people knock into the bump

DavesDadsDogDiedDiabolically Fri 18-Oct-13 08:33:56

Has anyone thought that she might have wanted to stand up? She may have been sat in her office all morning & just wanted to give her arse a rest - like the rest of us do.

As said above, she's more than capable of making sure she gets a seat - maybe people had offered before the cameras rolled?

Half of the "problems" in this bloody country are because people take it on themselves to get outraged on behalf of other people rather than assuming those people are quite competent & can decide what does & does not upset/offend/oppress them.....

MistressIggi Fri 18-Oct-13 08:12:20

If it is sexist to offer your seat to a pregnant woman, it must also be ageist to offer your seat to an elderly person."The idea that because she is 70 she has lost the ability to stand on her two feet or fend for herself is ludicrous" etc.

Northernlurker Fri 18-Oct-13 08:10:38

It would be sexist to assume that BECAUSE she is pregnant she is UNABLE to stand. It's perfectly polite and not sexist to offer her a seat. In the same way a female pregnant or non pregnant MP might offer a seat to a male MP who was standing and looking unwell or tired or aged.

I saw a picture of Ms Swinson yesterday and she was striding along wearing v nice heels. It's her first child I believe and so tbh I bet her ligaments aren't as knackered as they get with your second, third, fourth etc pregnancy. If she feels very well and able to to stand then there's no reason for her to ask for a seat.

HootyMcOwlface Fri 18-Oct-13 08:03:13

When I was heavily pregnant (and OK, I only made it to 36 weeks), sometimes it was better for me to stand up because of my backache. Lots of people would offer me their seats and I kept saying thank you, but standing is more comfortable. Its nice to have the offer though.

AveryJessup Thu 17-Oct-13 22:15:59

It depends. Was she offered a seat and refused it? Or was she standing there looking tired while other people sat and everyone ignored her? Every pregnancy is different so, yes, it is patronizing to assume that all third-trimester women need to be ushered into seats but the offer of a seat should be there even if the woman doesn't want it.

For me, at 7 months pg, for example, I felt more comfortable walking and standing sometimes than I did sitting down for long periods when I would get horrible pelvic pain. It varies for everyone but it's polite to offer.

The DM is highlighting this as part of their century-long campaign to emphasize the unsuitability of women for the workplace though so that makes me skeptical of the details... hmm

HopeS01 Thu 17-Oct-13 22:12:44

I've ALWAYS offered my seat to pregnant women, and being 6 months pregnant myself I ALWAYS expect to be offered a seat (if I'm not offered, I ask!) .. I feel genuine contempt towards people who ignore me on the tube and happily sit while I stand.

MidniteScribbler Thu 17-Oct-13 21:27:40

She's a grown adult, and a member of parliament (who never have a problem speaking up when they want to) and capable of asking for a seat. She has said herself that she arrived late, had to leave early, and was standing talking to a colleague. She was standing behind the chairs so most wouldn't have even seen her arrive. The woman didn't want a seat. Why do other members of the public now get to decide she was horribly discriminated against because the whole chamber didn't jump to their feet when she appeared?

sunshinesue Thu 17-Oct-13 20:13:40

Ffs, I'm sure she was more than capable of asking for a seat if she wanted one. Perhaps someone did offer and she refused.

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