Credit | Leszek Glasner via Shutterstock
I was sitting at my desk this morning, having breakfast, catching up on my emails, planning for the workday ahead when I chanced upon this.
‘Period leave shouldn’t be implemented. We need to normalise periods, pregnancy and all things women do to earn an equal status in society and not be looked down upon.’
Now, I don’t know about you but it made me cringe especially because it was said by a woman. If you have been following me for some time now then you’ll know well that I’m a huge proponent of women claiming and owning what they deserve. But when someone says periods and pregnancy needs to be normalised, it makes me angry. And when that someone is a woman, it hurts more. Why can’t we stop fighting amongst ourselves? One day it’s working mom vs a stay-at-home mom while on another it’s a crisis over the need for period leave.
Let’s get a few facts right here. Men and women are different biologically. Women are not less than men but different. Why apologise for being different? Our bodies are different. And that’s why you cannot normalise or push under the carpet the health or biological issues that women face. We should not have to become like men to get our chances or be treated as equals. We should have all those things while being what we are and who we are. Yes, with our periods, period pains, period leaves and all.
Now, periods are not same for everyone. While I may be able to work during my periods, my friend is miserable during those 3 to 4 days of the month. Does that mean she should hide the fact, wear a white trouser and jump around to be taken seriously? No. And when someone says having or taking period leaves will affect our credibility it gives ammunition to those in power to thwart women’s progress using that as an excuse. Women shouldn’t have to explain why they need period leaves. Don’t limit your thinking to yourself. It’s a policy for women, not just one woman, not just you.
We should not have to become like men to get our chances or be treated as equals. We should have all those things while being what we are and who we are. Yes, with our periods, period pains, period leaves and all.
I think it’s about time we stop behaving like we are sorry for being women and having the anatomy of women. Or, that we need to provide an explanation for being one.
Pregnancy. I don’t even know where to start when someone says pregnancy needs to be normalised. No two pregnancies are the same. Ask and any doctor will tell you that. While I was able to work throughout my pregnancy, I have seen women who have had severe medical issues during those nine months. It wasn’t easy for me either. One day it was a backache another day it was exhaustion. Do we need to be sorry for that too?
Do you have any idea how poor the leave system of companies are when it comes to sick leaves too?
If we go by the logic of normalising then think about this. Married women or working mothers are often overlooked for promotions. So going by the logic we should not do anything that may hinder our progress, women shouldn’t be getting married or having babies. Makes sense? No, not at all.
It’s very well that a 32-week pregnant woman completed the Boston Marathon. I applaud her and am proud of her as a woman. It fills me with joy that Serena Williams won the Australian Open final when she was 8 weeks pregnant. We are no less than anyone. But I won’t expect every pregnant woman to do those things. And certainly, won’t want every pregnant woman to be judged, robbed of opportunities or thought less of because she isn’t able to do the same or needs a break.
What message do we want to spread?
The point we should be debating or fighting rather is not being marginalised for having health issues owing to periods or pregnancy. That’s what we need to change not fight amongst ourselves when someone somewhere is willing to think of us as humans and give us something as harmless as a period leave or an extension of maternity leave.
Widen your perspective and don’t dilute an issue through a myopic stance. If you feel taking period leave will affect a woman’s progress at work, fight that mindset. Don’t say period leave is unnecessary. While you might not need it, someone else really might?
This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.
Join me and let’s work towards a world of gender parity. Remember, each voice counts. Tell me your story.