Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

I agree that motherhood is not a favour to the baby.  In fact a society owes every baby and every mother a healthy, welcoming, safe and happy environment. What happens when a society disrespects motherhood?

Unmana blogged about [Link] how Indian Air Force thinks ‘Pregnancy makes women pilots cost-inefficient’.

Nature’s way of life is that you get married, bring up a family… if a lady goes into family way, she is off-duty for 10 out of 12 months.”

I won’t discuss ‘nature’s ways,’ (that’s another post) but are we grudging the mothers their 10 months Maternity Leave?

“… we request you to be happy, be married, but no offsprings.”

Fine. Today in India we don’t seem to need a new generation of citizens. There are too many of us anyway.

Today we feel it’s okay to deprive women of career opportunities if they choose to be mothers.

We think we are doing mothers a favour if we ‘permit’ them self reliance as they  scrub floors, treat tumours, work at construction sites and FLY fighter planes.

Motherhood is being made a luxury for women, let’s say justifiably so.  My question is, would it then be understandable if women gradually start accepting that they have to give up too much to be mothers? This is happening in many parts of the world.

Do some gentlemen think motherhood is a finable offence, or perhaps the real feeling is revealed when they wonder if women are suited for a man’s job like being a fighter pilot…?

Because he also asks,“…psychologically, are we fit?”

This from the nation of Rani Lakshmi Bai.

107 thoughts on “Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

  1. I laughed when I read that news item you know! I felt like telling the idiot that he should take pangas with the kids he does not want to be borne IN THE PRESENCE OF THE MOTHER, and then handle her reaction.

    Then I would ask him “Are you psychologically fit now?”

    Me – The ‘psychologically fit’ line takes the cake. 🙄 What’s sadder is there are many who think like this … 😦

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  2. I just want to ask the Air Vice Marshal if he believes in immaculate conception? I’m not as accomplished as him, but as far as I know, men have something to do with getting women pregnant…So, if women can be ‘punished’ for wanting children, why can’t men be?

    A couple of days ago, there was a discussion on BBC about women in the work place…The panelists included Indra Nooyi, Chanda Kochchar, Carlos Ghosn (CEO Renault-Nissan), Suhel Seth and one more person…They all said, women in the workplace brought diversity in thought and talent which could only be beneficial for companies…

    Me – Sraboney I agree. I feel we lose out on talented pilots because of our rigid and outdated stance.

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  3. sad situation it is ..really …and we face it every now and then implicitly atleast ..in the nation of rani laxmi bai that is 😦

    Me – He talks like he has never heard of women in wars – there was also a whole army of women of Kalinga, all ready to fight Ashoka’s army. This in times when women were constantly being pushed into the kitchen and had babies every year.

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  4. Chauvinists are everywhere. In the case of IAF – the fellow is from the old-school of thought .. I’m not even remotely surprised at his statement. I feel almost everyone from his generation and his background think the same (many just don’t admit it openly that’s all!)

    What is heartening is that we equalitists (men and women alike) are fighting them. Not verbally or through confrontation; but in deed and in action. It’s good to just ignore these sexists – but its even better to prove them wrong. I’m sure some mother will come along in IAF, fly that fighter plane; and make up for her maternity absence. That ought to shut someone up!

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    • I agree Kiran, I have met some too. They believe they are being ‘only logical’.
      I agree ‘It’s good to just ignore these sexists – but its even better to prove them wrong. Not verbally or through confrontation; but in deed and in action.’

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  5. I think men are just worried about losing their importance in society, hence the back lash…If women become breadwinners, leaders, fighters, decision makers in addition to being mothers, then who would give a damn about men?

    Me – The truth is Sraboney they have nothing to fear. If women become breadwinners, leaders, fighters in addition to being mothers, men will be more free to be chefs, home makers, fashion designers, painters and fathers. They will be become companions instead of bread winners.

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  6. Then maybe men in the armed forces should not be allowed to marry, as, according to “Nature’s way”, they will feel the need to procreate and yet they are also required to lay down their lives for their country. Shouldn’t they be saving these girls from impending widowhood?

    God!! The logic that abounds in these cases!! Rani Laxmibai must surely be turning in her grave!

    Me – They should not be permitted fatherhood. “… we request you to be happy, be married, but no offsprings.” 😉

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  7. I saw this news in some news channel. The men are not able to tolerate women taking up their positions. Actually, they should appreciate that women have got more family responsibilities than men and understand and help women who are qualified to do any job, including pilots. Then they are true men. Women are capable of doing any job and I feel they are mentally stronger than men. I know women who work till they are 8 months into pregnancy, deliver and come back within a month.

    This problem is faced by women in every sphere, IHM. This is the reason most women first postpone marriage and then think twice to start their family. If the men come out from their egoistic nature and treat women as equals and help each other, this problem will not arise.

    Me – Men have got used to a way of working and any change is resisted by some of these men. They will get used to it, but unfortunately they will slow down the much needed improvement 😦

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    • One to two years after marriage there is societal pressure for the couple to have a kid. The ideal situation if both work and both help with housework. But the woman is expected to do everything, keeping her so busy that she finds no time to work outside home. Gradually she loses her independence and has to depend on her husband.

      Women might stop buckling under family and societal pressure so that they can retain their independence. That day is not far away.

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  8. The problem is that companies don’t look at things holistically. It is not possible to separate economic development from societal development. Every counts and it all comes back in a circle. You need to ensure that there is support for families, need to ensure that there is encouragement to both sexes to work and so on…all of it gives forth long term benefits, to the society, to the country and to the company too. But people are myopic I guess.

    Me – Absolutely Nita!! I agree.

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  9. Old school of thought it is. Wasn’t it the case with recruiting women IAS officers some (long) time back. That their motherhood would be in their way of being full efficient at their workplace!! I sometimes wonder who propagates these thoughts these days. Is it that Manu again, or ….surely IAS n IAF never existed while he wrote all that nonsense.

    Me – Some of us still live by Manu’s rules 😦

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  10. IHM, This news got me so worked up! I find it amazing that people come up with such shoddy reasons for keeping women away from some areas. Wasn’t this same reason given some years back when air hostesses had to resign when they go married? I mean, it is the heights of sexism.

    Equally worse is the logic that men use in deciding that women cannot be in combat zones. Even when women are ready to be treated exactly the same as men, they are not requesting any sort of concessions, ‘psychological differences’ are brought up.. I mean, what really irks me is, that men get to decide which areas women can enter – simply because they are already there. In so many areas, women have shown their excellence, despite having families and children. I find this kind of logic, unbelievable!

    Me – Smitha I have even heard the logic that a working woman takes away a man’s job. You see all these are seen as their birthright by such people, and women are seen as encroaching on their territory.

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  11. It’s going to take a long struggle to overcome centuries of male privilege. We can all contribute in our own little ways…yes it does add up…by raising our kids to believe that they can do anything regardless of gender and parenthood and showing them with our own attitudes and choices.

    Me – I agree starsinmyeyes!!

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  12. You know, when I was single and went for job interviews, I would always be asked: What if you get married? I was told by some nut that it is asked because women tend to leave work after marriage and so the organisation needs to think twice whether they want to invest resources in training up a flight risk!!! I mean WTF? Single men are never asked this question? Are they any less of a flight risk should a better professional opportunity arise?

    Its all humbug if you ask me. Its a clever way of masking the couldn’t-care-less attitude of the system-whether in the defence, corporate or any other sector. Just blame it on the woman. They SAY they want to hire capable women. But what is the enabling environment they are providing to women? If women are to join and REMAIN in the work force, systems have to be put in place, money has to be invested by the organisation to create woman friendly / child friendly environment. Who will bell the cat?

    Me = I agree Deepa. They have created an environment that suits them and now they treat that as normal and appropriate environment, any changes mean they employee is not ‘cost effective’. 😡

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  13. I agree. IAF is no place for discrimination. That guy is old school so such sexist comments are expected from him. But one point that he mentioned – about women being away for 10 months…that point is actually raised & discussed in today’s corporate world as well. Look at it with an unbiased way, from a cost perspective only and from a company’s point of view. For them, every employee is an investment through which they expect a 10x ROI. Standard industry average. For every 1 dollar spent on an employee, $10 should be the return on investment. So now the question that keeps arising is, how far is an employee profitable to a company?

    Btw, I am speaking of whats discussed in board rooms. By virtue of pure numbers and statistics, it is true. Likewise from IAF perspective, if a combat fighter is away for 10 months for maternity, it is a cause of concern for them. They have admitted it. Isn’t everything related to cost? I mean..just look at it purely from a cost perspective. Forget IAF or the fact that it is a sexist remark. Just like, say a male counterpart, takes leave for 5-6 months sighting personal reasons.

    Apart from that, all the stuff he said about psychologically fit n stuff is all bull crap. I think women are far more stronger than men.

    I think IAF should be aware that this is how it is. And if a woman has to take maternity leave, then that’s the way it is. They are no one to stop her. They should keep it under consideration and budget that accordingly. Such comments are not going to help. If it is a problem, like they said it is, then they should get higher military budgets sanctioned from the Govt. Surely a few more crores is not gonna bankrupt the nation. But such remarks are only going to turn off women from such professions.

    Me – Masood read Suranga’s comment.

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    • I for one fully endorse what ever you (Masood)say,Such comments should be analysed with a VERY broad mind and should not be limited to male bashing !

      I agree that all human beings should be given equal chances and previlages, still even men are not psycologically & physically fit for certain jobs. though women pilots is no big deal- what with NASA using so many of them and they too must be having the same concerns.

      Only they use better (gender-ically correct) words

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  14. Mrs Sudha Murthy, engineer,author,mother, social worker, and today, a venture capitalist side by side with her husband, was refused an interview call by Tata Motors in her first job, as it was a (a)shop floor job and (b) she was a woman. She wrote a letter to Mr JRD Tata, and the rest is history.

    There are currently pilots who are women, successfully so. Women have retired from the army with very honorable commissions. The thing to do would be to make the air force flying combat opportunities widely open to women, and take them on merit. If and when it is needed to grant her leave for delivery purposes, grant it as per rules, and graciously. I don’t see anyone looking at investments when a man flyer is prevented from flying for whatever health problem/reason. And lets not talk about investments . Unless we do a study across the population about investments made and revenue earned . The results may surprise those in power, and specially the IAF worthy who made the comments.

    (This seems to be a season for stupid comments from folks hovering near the top of hierarchy as well as retirement age . eg. the Mumbai commissioners interview about his colleagues. )

    Me – Oh how I would love to see the results of such a study Suranga!

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  15. This attitude exists everywhere….just tht they r a bit more subtle abt it.

    But its going to take a loong time to change…..mindsets esp of the old schoool of thought is not easy to change. The present generation esp men are not sure they like the new ways…tho they outwardly pretend to like it more than they actually do. Mayb a small percentage do.

    Our best hope is the next generation…but then changes have to be made now to see the difference later :-).

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  16. Yes I remember watching on NDTV, this discussion on the need of women in combat. I found Air Force’s viewpoint utterly ridiculous. I mean,this is gender bias touching a new height!

    I had been to an interview a few years back to one of the most reputed airlines. Everything went well and I was offered the job.When I was about to give my consent they asked me this ridiculous question whether I had any intention of becoming a mother(this was much before Namnam was born). I was literally taken aback. And I asked them the reason for such a query. They said it was a company policy that new recruits are not to have offsprings at least for a year or so as it will affect the company’s productivity level. Needless to say I gave my confirmation letter back to them and rejected their offer.

    Such attitudes are deplorable!

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  17. will our country never change…while insitutions like CISCO have in their headquarters, nursery’s provided for women working there to keep an eye on their kids in the US, while working from home is given as an option for new moms, here we are making such remarks!

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  18. its a sad situation IHM… we are making ourselves worst than our past and that is what makes me sad very sad

    Me – All this can only cause delays Monika, I feel nothing can really stop this much needed change. Despite everything, aren’t we better off than our grandmothers were?

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  19. I guess, what he says maybe right from a cost perspective but the point is that should such decisions be based on the cost factor alone? It is illogical to say that costs are the only deciding factor while recruiting pilots. And I guess, 10 months in a lifetime shouldn’t make much of a difference.

    me – Also Rakesh like Suranga pointed out, one can’t be sure about the cost-inefficiency of women pilots, even if they do take a break.

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  20. OMG !!! OMG !!! OMG !!!!

    When this Air Vice Marshal was conceived and delivered, was his mother flying planes ?????? Did she take her career so seriously, that not to opt for the maternity leave and at least a period of rest ?????

    This is the utter pitiable condition of women in India !!!! Who are those ppl to decide when women shld conceive and deliver ?????

    I just happen to hear from a close frnd abt this wonderful company –

    In this company, there is a monthly calendar on client meetings and the executive responsible for that meeting. That calendar is so special, because it also lists the dates in which the women executives are menstruating. Its not to offend the women or tease them about it, but to give them the required rest during those days – they are allotted easy office based work – no client meetings or outdoor work. Here too, the women’s productivity is measured and treated according to the nature’s ways. Its not something that women do purposefully to stay out of work. Neither is pregnancy a decision by the woman alone.

    Oh !!! Come on, Air Vice Marshal, eat your words – you didnt jump from the sky !!!!

    Me – They are afraid of change Uma, change seems inconvenient after having got used to one way of working. Take a look at Nita’s comment, that is something I feel strongly with.

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  21. My wife has an interesting perspective on this. Her father’s an officer in the air force and she told me that he used to dread getting women to serve under him.

    Apparently they ask for benefits that men aren’t expected to receive. Such as being allowed to go home early, being very picky about the place of posting, refusing to work late nights on a consistent basis etc etc.

    Now maybe I’m quoting this wrong. If so, I’ll ask my wife to clarify in a future comment here. But I do know that when I used to work in a small exhibition company, women would be allowed to go home earlier than the rest of us (we’d work late into the night), were not expected to attend the actual events which were far away and often required us to spend the whole night setting stuff up.

    I used to think that was highly unfair. After all, I love my free time as much as anyone (and that was the reason I finally quit), but if we didn’t extend privileges to the women, they would complain loudly. Not that I blame them really. If they travel by public transport, then going home late at night is dangerous. But what is the solution here? There’s no doubt that women have an easier time in lots of workplaces.

    I think the comments by the IAF are a delicate way of putting things. I mean they can hardly say that women are fussy. That would kick up an even greater shitstorm. So being men, they reached out for the only thing that would be apparent – namely pregnancy. But they got screwed for that too!

    Me – Bhagwad they have created a men-friendly work environment and now they are unhappy about making it a more balanced work environment. This was their domain, they feel they own it, now here come women who they were always glad to pull chairs, and open doors for. It’s not easy for them, I understand. But do take a look at Nita’s and Suranga’s comments. I completely agree with them. Also read Mamma mia me a mamma’s point of view.

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    • Bhagwad I feel the insisting for an early release has definitely got a connection with the working husband who expects hot home cooked food served on the table, kids fed and put to sleep so that he can have a peaceful time after a hard days work even if it means he has done over time. How many women do you know who comes back from work and can relax and unwind the way a man usually gets to do?? sobs!!!!!

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      • I guess that is a possibility. My question though is, is it fair vis a vis me? I don’t contribute to making women’s life more tough and when I see them getting privileged treatment, I feel it’s unfair.

        Like I said, I eventually quit my job since I wanted more free time and became a writer, but while I was working there, it was unfair since it was assumed that a woman could work less than me. That’s discrimination in the opposite direction!

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    • @IHM,

      I don’t believe that the work environment they created was “men based”. In all fairness to them, it’s a very tough industry. The people there were overworked, underpaid and had no time for a family life.

      One very decent guy there had been wanting to get married for over two years but couldn’t take time off for a wedding! But I also didn’t see any negative discrimination against women. If they wanted to stay, they were welcome (and indeed were appreciated – we could use the help), but almost every time an exhibition was scheduled, the women would be allowed to go home earlier than the rest of us.

      It was a terrible place to work in, but it wasn’t discriminatory. It was the women (and not the organization) who wanted more relaxed timing. While I can understand the compulsions, my question is whether or not its equitable?

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      • I hear you…Some women want the best of both worlds…I used to work in advertising agency and women had to work as hard and as late as men…We didn’t ask to leave early and even if we had, wouldn’t have been ‘allowed’ to…In fact, for some reason, women do well in the ad world especially media planning/buying…Most of the heads of media are women…

        I think if women want to be treated fairly, they should contribute as much if not more than their male counterparts…

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  22. Reminds me of a scene from “Dil bole Hdippa” in which Rani’s character says “Jiski Devi banake pujate ho, Usiko Insan banake kuchal dete ho”

    Me – You know women should insist upon being who they are, i.e. HUMAN. The easiest thing to do is to call a woman a goddess and then treat her worse than any other human.

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  23. Yep . Women are NOT doing anyone any “favours” . In fact , they have never , through the entire human History done “mankind” any “favours” . It is the fundamental duty of woman to bear a child , of the desired sex , and if she fails , then she is a third rate citizen . Not a second rate one , for that she already is , by virtue of not doing anyone any “favours”.

    I cannot possibly fathom what the Idiots who dismiss woman as a secondary being , think . Forget everything . How hard is it to not believe in Biology ? Seriously , WTF !

    Me – Isn’t it outrageous? It’s attitudes like these Kislay that will eventually lead to women sacrificing their desire to be mothers 😦

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  24. In the heavens why was that guy saying “POOR lady” in his speech? How is that after a delivery a woman becomes poor? After reading his comments all I can say is the POOR guy surely has lost his marbles 😆

    The comment psychologically are women fit?? says it all about the Chief in whose hands our brothers and husbands are entrusted to fight for our country. Blimey it gives me the goosebumps 😯

    IHM when the time comes to discriminate in jobs etc, people like this chief forget the most powerful word HUMANS and resort to pointing fingers at Man and Woman. It’s just like evoking that dreadful religious fanaticism. In this case creating a fear in a man for a job that might no longer be his exclusively….sigh!!

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    • Forgot to add… I was watching one of Oprah’s show the other day and was shaken badly when she stated the fact – that in a country like America “porn industry is the only place where a woman is always paid higher than a man” 😯 I don’t know if this comment is relevant here 😥

      Me – Isn’t that sad Sakshi!
      The idea of equality that they have implies that to be EQUAL everybody needs to be just like men- we tend to use men as the yard stick. That’s not right.

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  25. Actually, IAF has many women pilots in their ranks. They manage many flight, combat support and supply services. Their presence is in all types of aircraft other than fighter aircraft.

    The topic was only about allowing women to don active / front-line combat roles. Another reason was the possibility of being shot behind enemy lines and being held as POW. The IAF official was not forthcoming but sexual abuse and torture of women POWs is a “big problem” and no Geneva Convention is adhered to at that time.

    You also have to contend with antiquated war systems and training infrastructure. Indian pilots are supposed to be the best in visual range combat. Technology however facilitates BVR or beyond visual range combat. IAF is still to upgrade all its systems to BVR.

    Cheryl Dutta, helicopter pilot with IAF, and also on that show talked of many combat roles which need not be absolute front-line role. She did mention BVR warfare systems which need not risk women being shot down and taken as POWs. These systems require technical expertise and women are not exposed to enemy aircraft or do not need to fly over enemy territory.

    It was indeed tasteless to talk of the costs and absence due to pregnancy in this context. They could have diplomatically derailed the whole subject by saying it is under consideration.

    I guess IAF has to upgrade not only equipment and processes but also their mindsets.

    What is more worrying is the relative obsolescence that has crept in IAF and not all its systems are state-of-art. Bureaucratic bungling and the Bofors shadow has spooked much of the modernisation schedules of the three services.

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    • Cheryl Dutta, if I remember correctly, is Lara Dutta’s sister and the first woman helicopter fighter…What a family!

      Anyway, as far as women being sexually abused if held as POWs, is fair reasoning but aren’t men also abused sexually?

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  26. This sounds like an insecure person! Cost of making a pilot, if its a woman, doesn’t bring the required return on investment(ROI), things like this make us women question if the cost of making a human being brings us the required ROI. and if we go by this person’s statements, the answer is a straight NO. So, which production should we women stop, the human or the pilot? One would say you can’t possibly stop making humans for obvious reasons , so you see the choice is simple, just stop being yourself. Again and again, the words of that pundit to whom my inlaws showed my janam patri , come to my mind “ladkon wala utsaah hai, grehasthi mein takleef hogi” WTF!!!????

    Me – Sandhya they also talk of how women are going against nature – and they also have a convenient definition of what’s natural 😉 . Chit bhi meri, pat bhi meri. But do read Mamma mia me a mamma’s comment 🙂

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  27. Another point I’d like to bring in here has to do with morale. It’s a well documented fact that employees compare themselves with others and achieve satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) by how they stand vis a vis their peers.

    This of course is specially true when it comes to corporate environments. This was (I presume) the main reason why paternity leave was introduced as well as maternity leave since the men found it unfair that women got an advantage that they didn’t.

    Now mind I’m not claiming that women have it all easy – previous posts and comments have demonstrated that. My point is that in the effort to bring equality, one must ensure that we don’t go overboard and that we don’t turn a blind eye to reverse discrimination.

    Some examples that come to mind are the misused dowry act, the tendency of courts to award custody to the mother etc etc.

    This is relevant here because when women take maternity leave, the organization (whether it’s the army or a corporation) must ensure that men don’t feel that it’s unfair.

    It’s unrealistic to claim that men must understand because that’s human nature. If the tables were turned, there would be equal resentment against men by the women.

    There’s probably no easy solution here, but I’m cautioning against the simplification of what is a delicate issue. We all look at our self interests (both men and women) and viewing things “holistically” is not easy when it concerns you personally.

    If it were that easy, humans would never get trapped in the prisoner’s dilemma and there would be peace on earth!

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    • Good post IHM, good to hear the protests have made IAF Air Vice Marshall to swallow some of his words.
      Let me try to answer Bhagwad Jal Park’s points. We should first understand that we live in a patriarchial society which is only changing slowly. If a woman wants things easy at work place it is mainly because [as some others commented] she have other work to do at home or it is unsafe to go home late. May be the woman wanted to stay whole night and finish the project but our society wont allow it or it is not safe. Similarly some men may want to go home early and cook or look after the kids but our society will not hear such a thing.Ever heard a man given time off for house work? Advantage here for the man is he will get paid for the extra work at the work place.
      The Company may not be at fault, but the society is. Men should understand that and try to change the society to a more equitable one instead of blaming women whom the society compels to take it easy at work place so that they can do the non-paying job at home.

      Women may feel unfair towards the society that they have to bear the burden of pregnancy.How can an Army or Corporation ensure that women do not feel unfair?
      May be by giving some thing extra like a paid leave for pregnancy. Society every where is trying to reduce that feeling of unfairness so that the humanity will continue to reproduce. That is the genesis of maternity leave. Paternity leave can never be equated with maternity leave as long as men are not bearing children.

      Me – Thanks Charakan 🙂

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    • @Bhagwad: will you feel discriminated if ur spouse takes maternity leave or will u consider a necessity?!??!!!!
      do u feel discriminated if ur colleague meets with a major accident and is off work for several months??!!??
      i can’t understand the grudge here…
      I my self have worked late nights several times over and am definitely not alone. also if u see call centers the women employees work the same shifts as their male peers…

      @IHM : I haven’t seen this and am shocked to read that we have such discussions in these times.. such remarks by men in position of influence are a shame.

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      • Accident leave isn’t the same as maternity leave. The former is just that – an accident. The other is a choice. How can they be the same?

        Being a mother is a personal decision to make and no matter how tough it is, it’s still the woman’s personal life. So in effect she gets time off for her personal work. Now I’m totally cool with that. My only point is that men should get the same time off too.

        I vote that men get 10 months time off to do some soul searching and think about the importance of life 😀

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        • ofcourse am sure u have heard of sabbatical leave 🙂

          and also many companies have an option that after u finish 1 year of employment u can take 6 months to 1 years gap solely for ur own self.

          Also itz nature’s way that only women can give birth and not men. and obviously women can’t have a baby all by herself . and since they bear all the physical discomfort, whatz wrong if they are granted leave ??!!??? surely the menfolk in office also have spouses and do understand that itz not a favour.

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        • See I’m not sure exactly how you stand on this issue. Here is what you say: “and since they bear all the physical discomfort, whatz wrong if they are granted leave ??!!???”

          My point is that taking on that pain is a personal choice. Say that I want a few months off to prepare to climb mount Everest which will cause me a lot of discomfort (and might even kill me), the fact that it will cause me discomfort isn’t reason for me to demand leave.

          Ultimately becoming pregnant is a personal choice that a woman takes in order to make her life happier. She’s not forced into pregnancy. The fact that not all women choose to become pregnant means that it’s not a compulsion as such. Now I’m all for taking time off for personal reasons. I’m just saying that men need equal time off.

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        • “Ultimately becoming pregnant is a personal choice that a woman takes in order to make her life happier”

          well not xactly . specially in india where married women are pressurised to have kids asap!!!
          and if she happens to prioritise her career over having kids then they are made to feel guilty for it. Is it not, then, only a little fair that we grant them maternity leave??!!??

          My point is just this that it’s not a personal choice solely taken by women. In India, It’s more about their family’s happiness not just a woman’s happiness.

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        • Using the fact that women are coerced etc smacks of double standards. Everywhere else on this blog, the case is made that a woman must not give in to oppression and must make up her own mind. That she must make use of the fact that she’s in a free country and liberate herself and stand up for her rights and so on. Here we’re suddenly using the oppression as an excuse to have a kid?

          Either the first or the second line of reasoning must go – but keeping both and using each as an when it benefits women only makes me feel that one isn’t sincere about equality. Being sincere about equality also means being respectful of the equal rights of men.

          If a woman is being coerced into having a kid, all the more reason not to have one!

          If the only problem the woman faces is to be made to “feel guilty”, then she gets no sympathy if she can’t stand up for herself. Especially if she’s an educated woman working for the type of corporation that
          gives her maternity leave. As IHM mentioned in an earlier comment thread, if the only problem she faces is some “jaw dropping”, then she should put up with it and stand up for her rights.

          Yes, if there’s domestic violence then we have a problem – but then having a baby is an even worse idea.

          Of course they should get maternity leave. But then men should get paternity leave too as a matter of equality. Or better yet, don’t call it maternity or paternity leave. Call it something neutral and men and women can take off for a few months every few years.

          Me – I would like to respond to your comment – in a while (I am busy right now) till then do take a look at Charakan’s comment. I made the same point in this post.

          Like

        • i am joining the party reallly late! but i am verrry amused to see that some men actually think maternity leave is meant for fun! woohoo! and that paternity leave was offered BECAUSE men feel left out of this privilege??!!! seriously!

          paternity leave is now given simply so that the father can be a part of the whole process and support the mother and child in every way possible and enjoy the new beginnings as well.

          maternity leave is meant for the recuperation of the mother’s body and soul and to nourish the new life that needs all the love and physical care that he/she can get.

          let me tell you that sleepless nights, sore nipples, aching back due to constant sitting up, the stitches, the hormones playing havoc with your system is NOT fun by any measure. and so PLEASE dont call maternity leave a privilege by any stretch of imagination. its a freaking necessity! gah!

          and frankly 3 months thats most corporates offer is good for nothing. and yet most women are back at their desks in the said time and learn to manage everything effectively!

          you know IHM, i really want men to get pregnant to know what its really all about! sigh!

          cheers!

          Like

        • Bhagwad Jal Park,
          There are 2 ways of looking at pregnancy. At a personal level and at a community level.
          At a personal level pregnancy should be a matter of choice.
          Maternity leave is a community level intervention to promote procreation so that our Human species will continue to thrive in this planet. In Countries where the local community’s birth rate is very low they encourage procreation by encouraging marriage and pregnancy. One such measure is increasing the maternity leave.In countries were there is high population,they discourage pregnancy by imposing hurdles for 2 or more children family.

          Like

  28. Females should be allowed to fly the fighter jets,
    but this is regarding security of nation so when female joins it she and her family be ready to postpone the motherhood.
    and also currently India is more populated
    for a apple there are thousand mouths

    Like

  29. This is so sad when ppl in such high positions have this kind of mentality!! I mean, what guarantees them that a man they train would be a good investment? and by giving such comments, what are they trying to imply? That women should not consider this career if they want to have a social life too? That is so so wrong !!

    Me – Parul yes, they should watch how they think, because when they speak they give their prejudices away 😦 It seems he has apologised now. I can only say thank god for small mercies… I doubt if he has started thinking without prejudice now 😦

    Like

  30. This article comes at a time when I just discovered that my health insurance is changing its policy on pregnancy. Now, it will be covered under any other disease / condition. Pregnancy as a disease?? It has got my blood boiling….and I am 7 months pregnant.

    Some people brought up the comment on “Return on Investment”. I would like to point out that pregnancy = children = future customers for your business. Also, going by strictly logical / financial terms, companies do cover disability / sickness pay for their employees. I do not see any speeches being made on how employees should not go hiking / drive a car because they may be in an accident and cost the company money in disability pay. Then why is pregnancy being singled out??

    The problem is that workplace has always been male centric. And now, incorporating benefits for women seems to be an alien concept / waste of time / waste of money to them. If women had always been in the workforce, the design of policies would have been more fair and such issues would not have arisen in the first place.

    One last thing that I noticed….if a man is inefficient at workplace – they say “That person is inefficient”. If a woman is inefficient at workplace, they say the entire female race does not deserve to work. Why??

    Me – Cluelesschick I agree, “The problem is that workplace has always been male centric. And now, incorporating benefits for women seems to be an alien concept / waste of time / waste of money to them.” Eventually we will see a balanced system, but the first many generations of women will have to really fight.

    Like

  31. Another relevant point. In this world if woman needs something she needs to fight for it. It has become a universal phenomenon. She needs to perform more than her male counterpart to stand out and prove worthy. As long as there are more men running the show, it is hard.

    Some nations are making rules to accommodate for motherhood and career. Here in US, there are laws against discrimination against pregnant woman and guaranteed paid leave for few weeks. Canada is even better, where they offer 12 months vacation with job guaranteed for moms.

    Putting motherhood in terms of cost effectiveness proves to be so capitalistic. Where in the world does such a comment make sense.

    Me – Thanks Lakshmi, I did not know this! 🙂

    Like

  32. I think this is to some extent a factor of progress cycle we are in at India right now. Europe went through the same stage when women were coming into the work force in mass. They had rules around what work pregnant women could do, the wage they would get, the compensation they would receive while on Maternity leave etc. All of this ended up discouraging women to have children, which further resulted in the birth rate in Europe to drop drastically. Now countries in Europe provide the most number of Maternity/Parental leave with/without pay all over the world. USA and Australia (changing now) has the least number of leave days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_birth_rate for birth rate and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave on parental leave.

    But all the statistics does not make the experience any less frustrating for women though. A friend at her work was told point blank by her manager that her annual review would suffer if she took 3 month maternity leave while the company policy clearly states that she could take 3 months paid and 2 months unpaid leave and she would be reviewed based on the time she worked. So her time off should not have to be factored in her annual assessment at all. One less stress one needs when they are about to have a baby. 🙂

    Me – Thanks for the links and the information comfortablynam. And I agree ‘all the statistics does not make the experience any less frustrating for women’ 😦

    Like

  33. Crazy country we live in. We should make another rule then – only those who are born artificially can join the armed forces(or whatever forces). Wasnt there a similar debate a few years back on the female medical checkup ?

    Like

  34. I have read this post, and the post that triggered this post, and the comments thereafter with great interest. I am an ex fighter pilot. I find that this whole debate has been proceeding on a different direction from which the Vice Chief had probably wanted it to go (This is my opinion based on reading his quoted statements and his subsequent apology). Women in combat roles has been a tough subject even for the more egalitarian societies, let alone India. Let’s take combat first.

    Whether one likes it or not, war involves animal instincts of kill or be killed; and the other baser elements of animal behaviour. Humans may indulge in it but in time all those in the thick of it become animals for that duration – there is no other way to survive – the enemy is treated worse than an object – studies show that the first 3 – 4 hours after capture are the worst – in case he or she has not been shot and killed.

    Physiologically women have been designed differently from men – this is God’s design. Consequently they are treated differently from men, by the enemy in war; and by the others around during peacetime. This is true and is based on past experience.

    Every nation needs defence forces to safeguard its integrity. Depending on its needs and its population, it decides whether it would be a volunteer army or everyone will have to serve. Ours is a volunteer army. The employer can decide who it needs to serve. In this case, the nation is the employer – it has to decide whether it needs women to serve in combat roles. It is not a matter of sexism – it is who are better equipped to go to combat. There is no doubt about the capability of women per se, but do we need them to be trained for and sent to war, when we have enough able bodied men volunteers. The remarks of the Air Marshal gave a point of view – and were probably to elicit opinions from the majority on the need for inducting women in combat jobs, including as fighter pilots. The issue is not discrimination against the women but the need of the employer. In case majority opinion in the country decides that women need to be inducted then it will happen. I do hope that the majority opinion is based on rational rather than emotional thinking – as defence forces are not a regular 9 – 5 job – one’s life and way of living is on line 24 x 7.

    Most of the people on this blogspot are emotionally involved and probably know nothing about the defence forces and what they do – the Air Marshal knows what he is talking of. I personally know the Air Marshal to be an intelligent professional and an accomplished fighter pilot. His statement may have been politically incorrect and probably insensitive – the way it has now been interpreted – He did not in any way want to disrespect motherhood – he is a family man, with kids of his own.

    I too have a son and a daughter. I would have loved my son to join the combat arms but not my daughter – I love them dearly, and equally. I am not being a sexist, just a realist, knowing the nature of war, and its aftermath – having lived, and studied it from age 15, when I joined NDA. It hasn’t left me even now, after having hung up my flying boots – and that is why I hope no wars are ever fought – the horrors of war are not worth it – but that does not mean that we will never have a war.

    Like

    • @ J P Joshi,

      How would you like it if a third person decided whether you could join the armed forces or not?? Maybe the army and combat can be handled by some people and cannot be handled by others. Please conduct fair tests to determine who is compatible and weed out men and women who do not pass. Do not assume that the entire female race is unfit to be in combat, even if your observations are true for all the women you have known your entire life. Because there might (and are) be a woman out there who will make an excellent soldier and will not make it to the army because such notions.

      Just sometime back people thought that lower caste people did not deserve education or equal rights because of the same preconceived notions.

      Like

      • @ J P Joshi

        I would also like to add….

        For your comment “but do we need them to be trained for and sent to war, when we have enough able bodied men volunteers” – I ask – what is the need for men to be sent to war when we have enough able bodied women volunteering to be in the army??
        As far as I know, I am an equal citizen of this country, and if I want to volunteer for the army it is discriminatory to reject me only based on my gender.

        Like

    • I totally agree with your POV. Looking at this issue with only the feminist mindset just won’t work IMHO.

      Like you’ve pointed out, being emotional about something as important as a nation’s defence (fully aware of the fact we are hounded by our neighbours) is irrational.

      Like

  35. I faced this attitude so many times that I am neither surprised nor shocked. I don’t even argue back but move on till i find a place that suits me.
    I work from home when my kids need me, try and leave on time most days and avoid after office socializing-yet any of my managers would agree that giving me flexibility was one of the most profitable decisions they took.

    As for that corporate honcho who explained they could not recruit me because I had a kid (and might have another soon)-I know it was his loss. Just like the esteemed IAF.

    Like

  36. It’s kinda okay to not have benefits like extended maternity leave etc. But ripping off their basic entitlement is so cruel!! And then our “society” blames working women saying they don’t give enough time to children. Can most of them even afford it? In families which can’t manage without double income, how easy is it for a woman to sacrifice her job for the role of an “ideal mother” role?

    Me – Absolutely Sangeetha!! There seems to be this assumption that working is a man’s right and they have to share what’s rightfully theirs when women join the workforce.

    Like

    • @IHM – If in fields like glamour, or movies to an extent, women want or choose to avoid getting pregnant for sometime to keep their market running, why cannot they do the same in defence – when they want to so desperately get into combat? Why do we want to also be in combat and then get pregnant? Why does it make a man sexist if he just says these are the rules we play this game by?

      Me – Sowmya – The glamour field is changing, we are realising that married women and mothers can be glamorous too. Now pregnant actors are no longer hiding their pregnancy. Angelina Jolie for example. We are realising that thinness, fairness, such nose, such age and such eye colour don’t necessarily make a person glamorous.
      And about the rules, just think, do those who join first, get to make the rules? There was a time when women were considered unsuited as IAS officers. In earlier times there were objections that every woman who worked took away a man’s job. When a woman is prepared to fly and is capable of flying – then why this resistance and comparison with men. Men are not the yardstick or the criteria. Women need to be efficient, they do not need to be like men.

      So women sign a bond for 3-5 years and then I guess the armed forces will also then open up to the concept of women in combat. If recruitment at a SW company for a programmer when there are n lady programmers is huge investment, its equally or more so in defence, where the number of valid women candidates will also be limited.

      All I am saying is, see if you can agree to terms, enter and then fight it out. Like Joshi says, if its as tough, we at least know ourselves.

      Me – Sowmya but who made these terms? These terms were made at a time when women were not allowed to work. The rules need to change. Women do not become cost inefficient if they take a few months off. Till now it had been decided that fathers do not need to care for the baby, but now fathers who want to support their wives have a right to demand Paternity leave. This enables the mothers to get back to work faster, and gives an opportunity to the fathers to bond with the baby.
      Let’s not make women choose between motherhood and career, the way we don’t make fathers choose between fatherhood and career. A happy society is only possible than aspirations of all it’s members are respected.

      Like

      • @Sowmya,

        Just want to add that your first sentence says it all – “Women want to or choose to”. Parenting is a personal decision and yes there may be people who will choose not to bear children. But it should remain their choice and not be forced on them by contracts.

        Like

  37. Hey IHM !!!!! Congrats to you, for being nominated in the Best Humanities Indiblog 2008 Category!!!!

    And, I just voted for you !!!! All the best !!! Keep rocking, IHM and Sols !!! Glad to know you both, thru this blog world. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Me- Thank You Uma 🙂

    Like

  38. its all very simple really…
    let the men who talk like this take care of a baby for just a week, then decide if maternity leave is indeed a vacation. if men can have everything they want so can women and that’s the bottom line.

    Me – I agree. And why not?

    Like

  39. I was real angry when I read about this in the newspaper. How can anyone who is a father say that being a mother should be at the cost of their career. Why is it too much to ask? ( 10 months maternity leave) . There are countries where they are given 2 years leave for a child… and they also have paternity leaves.

    Maybe we need to introduce paternity leaves and we shall have no man/woman to FLY!!

    Like

  40. Empower the couple/people, they will make better choices..

    I think the solution lies in not getting gender into the mix and leaving people to figure out what they want to do. Quite a few companies, including mine, have 12 weeks of leave for the primary care giver(PCG). PCG can be a father,mother,grandparent(who gained custody for various reasons) of a newborn/adopted/foster child. It includes people thrust into PCG position because of unfortunate fatalities/complications..

    The 12 weeks can be split up as well. If the mother decides to go back to work in 6 weeks as her career demands it, the father gets to apply for a 12-6 = 6 weeks of balance from his employer. The couple can decide how they want it to work.

    While a major part of parental leave is exercised by mothers, it is good to have the option where fathers can step in if mother cannot (whatever the reasons..) or split in some way to share the burden. I took 4 weeks off for both of my tots..

    While the Vice Chief Air Marshal is a moron for his statements, the fact of the matter is, if a pregnancy will result in 10-12 months of paid vacation (I know Canada has a 12 month policy) for the mother, it is unfair. Unless in the unfortunate incidents(death, disability etc during pregnancy) anything more than 3-4 months is being unfair….

    I want to disagree with people who claim men do not help out — let the men who talk like this take care of a baby for just a week — it is a rash generalization. Quite a few fathers do very well. Away from India one 1 in 3 desi dads steps up and do more than what the mother does. Unless we are talking of jerks and not fathers, it is a rash generalization..

    Like

  41. And soon after this news came another where it congratulated our president for the being the first woman president to take a flight in the Sukhoi. Maybe because now she cannot have children, she was allowed?

    I guess a lot of commenters have already said but a lot of men I know echo this sentiment. So it’s truly a man’s world?

    Like

  42. The cost arguement makes perfect sense.Many other organizations have this in other forms, especially AFMC (army medical college which says that either pay us back the money or work with us for 5 years) If having a long maternity leave means waste in terms of resources spend, then do have a no-offspring contract. And to make it equal, have this on men too.There is no reason too exclude men from this. They also invest physically,emotionally ,financially.

    If men are to be excluded from such contract while women don’t, then the child must be considered solely the possession (for a need of better word) of the women. All the father rights on child must be subservient to mother rights.The moment the relationship between father and mother is over, the father’s rights over child must go.

    And for the example of Angelina Jolie still working after having babies, these are isolated examples. Then you can take examples of Katie Holmes pre-nuptial agreement with tom Cruise, in which she is now demanding a CASH-BONUS if she gets pregnant; if that is legal then it is sort of rewarding somebody on getting pregnant , then even penalizing someone on pregnancy shouldn’t be illegal and must be considered equitable.

    Me – I do agree that anybody who thinks children are the responsibility of only one parent should think if in that case, the rights are also of only one parent.

    Like

  43. I personally think kids need full time caring of atleast one parent (not necessarily a woman) till they are 4/5 years of age. If both the parents are only going to concentrate on careers, its going to be a disaster in the long term. Life is not all about money alone.

    Destination Infinity

    Like

  44. Isn’t it laughable that no one of these fine people, who think women give up (or need to) a lot of things for motherhood, or even that they should- ever think of having better flex-time arrangements, better social support for working mothers, so that motherhood is not a burden any more. I think it is all part of a desire to keep women in “their place” as determined by the patriarchy. No one ever discusses how we need safe child-friendly policies, support in the form of better day care, work from home arrangements, not stigmatizing men who are caregivers- no, the solution is women should not work.

    Like

  45. and frankly to resent pregnancy and maternity leave is plain pathetic. if we are talking about RoI, am sure you wont see it only based on a 6month leave, right? there will be a period where you have worked before and will work after.

    and if women employees were just a loss making proposition why would they get employed in the first place. and then why would they sometimes be offered a flexi time option or WFH option after the baby etc.

    as for some who dont work till late etc. well, the society has to change to make sure that women are safe at whatever hour and wherever they are, isnt it?

    that said, i have worked way past midnight often enough in Bombay and never expected special favour including a seat in the bus! that i find bullshit. apart from reservations in colleges! but thats a different thought altogether!

    cheers!

    Like

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