The FOP leave policy – Aren’t we getting it all wrong?Priya Singh
I am sure you have heard about this news story by now, if you aren’t living under a rock (I am not joking). Everyone’s talking about it, everyone’s writing about it. I heard about it not via the news story on Culture Machine, but through a petition on Change.org.
When I got the mail to sign the petition, I was quite thrilled that how come no one thought about this brilliant idea before! In all jubilance, I enthusiastically signed it and forwarded it to my gang of supposedly progressive friends and colleagues. Because you know, I always assume everyone around me is living under a rock (like I said, I am not joking about this).
The next day in office, I brought this up during our lunch hour walking session (because we are health conscious people yo). The other two females with me dint seem thrilled with the idea and I was just as surprised and curious to know why. I will breakdown their pointers a little later.
In the evening while checking LinkedIn, I noticed a few friends had liked a post around the same topic. Sadly, the post was a reshare of another female’s post undermining this policy and why it’s silly. It wasn’t a surprise that the reshare was by a male colleague with the caption ‘Interesting to see a fresh and unbiased viewpoint on this’. Hmm, why does it sound familiar?
So now, let me list down their counterpoints on why this leave policy is for nobody and where we are going wrong.
1. ‘You are just asking for unnecessary privileges in the name of Feminism.’
This leave policy is not just about Feminism. Its more about equity than anything else. Do you know the difference b/w equity and equality? Well, let’s begin with the definitions then –
‘Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful. Equality is treating everyone the same.’
Since menstrual pain is not an add-on that we can uncheck from our lists, this policy is just a step towards giving women a fair chance by giving them some tools to deal with this painful situation. Oh, let me rephrase – painful, unavoidable situation.
2. ‘It will only benefit those sitting in a/c offices having access to all sorts of painkillers/hot bags etc., while women in villages don’t even have the right to speak their minds. This is not real Feminism.’
This sounds very very familiar. The whole irrelevant correlation between cause and effect. This logic is same as someone asking you not to eat too much food or throw any leftovers because some kid in Africa is dying of hunger. Got my point?
Feminism is all about equality. It’s an all-inclusive phenomenon. Nobody is saying that we’ll first get the village women all the rights they deserve and then move to the cities. No. That’s not how it works. In any case, females need all the help we can to bring ourselves at the forefront of society, to have our say in matters that deal with us. We don’t need to undermine each other’s privileges at this point. Let everything in. Whatever we can get.
3. ‘These kinds of privileges are only isolating women in the workplace. Women will only make themselves difficult for inclusion.’
Again, this rings a bell very close to home. ‘She shouldn’t have gone out that late at night.’ ‘Why did she wear such short clothes in the first place’ ‘Why was she walking alone anyways’. Remember? Do you recall anyone asking ‘Why are men such savages to prey on ladies like they are some dim-witted bumpkins who dint evolve enough to have any civility? Go back to your jungles you animals!’
It was not surprising to see a male sharing that females post in the name of fresh perspective. So that he can easily hide his cowardice behind the hypocrisy of something like ‘I don’t support her views. I am all for Feminism and equality and all that. It just felt like a novel perspective to share.’ Of course, it did, you spineless moron. How come the idea of such a leave policy dint feel like a novel idea for you to share? Why do women need to think about how this leave policy will make hiring even more difficult for them? Its not our problem. It’s the society’s problem. Let them deal with it. Every change starts with making the community around you uncomfortable. Maternity/paternity leaves were a controversial topic few years back and then we realised it’s our due. The society will have to change its ways to accommodate us all. We shouldn’t have to adapt to conform to its rules. We have been doing that for too long.
And now, time for the classics.
4. ‘I don’t want to announce my period dates to the whole world’
Well, you don’t have to. It’s an optional leave, not your income tax return that you are obligated to disclose. Your menstruation cycle details don’t need to be published anywhere.
5. ‘I don’t think anyone really needs such a leave. You just need to get over this and go about your day.’
Nope. Just because you don’t go through unsurmountable pain doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Turning away from the problem doesn’t make it go away. In my small circle of female friends, almost everyone goes through excruciating pain on at least their 1st day, most likely 2nd day as well. I have a friend who cries in office and then must run back home, take strong pain killers throughout the day and wake up like a ghost the next day with eyes swollen from a whole day of crying. And this happens to her every single fucking month! You don’t think she deserves a break without having to give an explanation? She dint sign up for this when she was born so why is she paying for it?
6. ‘If the first day is so uncomfortable for you, take a sick leave.’
Again, nope. I am not sick so why should I waste my sick leave? That too when you get fixed number of sick leaves in India. This is a monthly cycle that women must go through and it’s not a sickness. Its nature’s gift (or curse, depending on whether you want to reproduce or not) and should be given its due respect. We have now taken weekends off for granted. Is there a reason you should work 5 days and rest the 2? No, because it’s just plain logical. Nobody needed to fight for this one. Likewise.
Come on ladies. Get your shit together and stop being manipulated by these puny hypocrites around you. This one should be for the girls! For the greater good!
And all the men sharing fresh perspectives like the one I mentioned, stay out of this if you haven’t experienced pain any closer to having 20 bones fractured while you were awake. As shocking as it may sound, let me break it to you - there are places where your precious opinions don’t count.
P.S. – If my write-up helped in changing your mind, please do sign this petition - https://www.change.org/p/period-leave-fop-as-policy