The Pregnant Lady Shuffle
Whatever happened to common courtesy?
Last week, a seven months pregnant British politician in the House of Commons stood in session for 30 minutes and was never offered a seat. Then, a source close to Jo Swinson, the mama-to-be, was quoted as saying: “The suggestion somehow 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 feet or fend for herself is quite sexist.”
Let me start by saying that this is wrong on a variety of levels. First, as an Anglophile, I am deeply distressed that the formal, polite and Mr. Darcy-like culture that I love so much would let me down here (just had to get that frustration out there).
Secondly, and more importantly, offering your seat to someone who’s pregnant is just the DECENT thing to do. Period. And whoever you are, “source,” I can bet that Ms. Swinson would very much have liked a seat had one been given to her. Perceived sexism has nothing to do with a little thing known as common courtesy.
Having been pregnant twice in New York City, I know a thing or two about standing, waiting patiently for a seat… and never getting one. Granted, my experiences usually took place on the subway instead of the House of Commons, but that’s neither here nor there. The feeling is the same. People would either pretend they didn’t see me, or even worse —see me and just not care enough to get up. As a result, there I would stand, shuffling my feet. Depending on my mood, I would either try to be as inconspicuous as possible, Or I would stick my stomach out as far as it would go towards the person reading the newspaper in front of me (the latter was more fun). And while I think my pregnancy days are behind me, I love Alice Gomstyn’s post this week about “7 Ways Pregnant Women Can Get Seats Without Asking.”
Now, before you go and think I’m giving The Big Apple a bad reputation, I should mention that more often than not, someone would offer me a seat. And I would take it every time. Whether or not I could have stood was beside the point.
YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN