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I’ll Conquer The World—But Only After My Period Leave

How about holidays for PMS too?

19/07/2017 9:19 AM IST | Updated 19/07/2017 11:06 AM IST
Tom Merton via Getty Images

A Mumbai-based firm in an attempt to be more woman-friendly has granted first-day period leave to all its women employees. Yay! This should start making men wish they had periods too—the mythical condition that makes perfectly normal women turn into raging monsters. This monthly ritual of shedding eggs is much like the short skirt—the most popular defence for rapists and their many sympathisers. Every time a woman creates a scene, screams her lungs out, gets into an argument because she's tired of taking shit, it is promptly attributed to the big P or her sis PMS. Either this, or she is menopausal, or may not be getting enough sex.

So deep is this rot in the mindset, a Trump voter—a woman CEO no less—claimed that the reason she'd never vote for Hillary was because a woman's volatile hormones might make her more likely to start wars. Never mind that both the world wars were started by leaders who were men. That the future of world peace depends on the mental health of our vagina is a huge responsibility to shoulder. Phew!

A period is no longer a condition that renders us bechaari and immobile. We can choose what we want to do—run, swim, barge our way into temples or even go to office.

Despite menstruation taking the blame for all the ills that befall mankind, it's funny to note how little men know about it. Or rather choose not to know about it. Never mind the fact that they had taken the same path as period blood to slide out into the world.

Ah, well!

Thankfully we have come a long way from the time when menstruation was thought to make women periodically dangerous. The reason why we were kept in isolation, away from public spaces and temples—lest we desecrate them.

A period is no longer a condition that renders us bechaari and immobile. We can choose what we want to do—run, swim, scale mountains, barge our way into temples or even go to office. Hell, I can go to my neighbourhood chemist and walk out with a pack of sanitary napkins without its soulmate, the brown paper bag!

No one but us gets to tell us what we can or cannot do. So Serena Williams wins the Australian Open when she is 8 weeks pregnant. A well into her fifth month Gal Gadot plays the warrior princess in Wonder Woman and slays.

We no longer shy from talking about what we go through when we are menstruating. Something that was unthinkable for generations before us.

So forgive me if I feel confused when a period leave is hailed as a giant leap for womankind.

Yes, I get it. It is an acknowledgment of what we go through—the uneasiness, the cramps that come and go like electricity in Gurgaon. For some women it's worse—fainting spells, vomiting, debilitating pain that brings life to a grinding halt. But the lack of a period leave has never stopped us from staying home when it was too much to bear, right?

[W]hy not make provisions for PMS as well? Bar women from being part of key decision making, closing business deals, because hey... her mood swings faster than Trump's flip-flops on China..

If we are okay with taking a holiday earmarked as "period leave", what's stopping us from going to our boss and saying, "Look, I am about to get my periods, the pain is unbearable. I need to go back home." And if PL is the new normal, why not make provisions for pre-menstrual syndrome as well? Bar women from being part of key decision making, meeting high-value clients, closing business deals, because hey, it's that time of the month when her mood swings faster than Trump's flip-flops on China.

I will conquer the world but only after I am done with my periods?

Let's not fool ourselves into believing that we are more than just a good investment for our organisation. In my last stint as a high-school teacher, my employer, a woman herself made sure the school did not renew the employment agreements of teachers who had joined on probation the moment she found out they were pregnant.

It was as if they were being punished for being productive.

But this is how the world functions. How much a company values its employees depends as much on their merit as their reliability. When we are expected to deliver, meet deadlines, we do not let cramps, mood swings, relationship mess-ups come in our way.

These days, everything a woman does—from getting her head shaved to buying shoes she cannot afford—is hailed as some sort of triumph for womankind. This trivialises feminism...

There's no disputing the fact that an average woman does a lot more than her male counterpart. Besides office, her schedule is expected to make time for Rohan's soccer practice, Tina's rashes, Kantabai playing hooky, MIL sick days. Add to it the struggle at office space dominated by men who refuse to take women and their work seriously.

If organisations are intent on making workspaces more women-friendly, they should go beyond tokenisms. Take women who complain of sexual harassment more seriously, give equal pay to their female employees and stop assuming men know more than women. And finally, ensure you hire more women.

The larger the number, the more the voices that cannot be muted.

But if PL becomes the norm, it will be just another reason for companies to hesitate from employing more women.

So let's not get riled if certain women refuse to share your excitement for PLs. They are definitely not against feminism, they just happen to have ideas that are different from yours. They are baffled how empowerment has been taken over by things that were once considered trivial pursuits. These days, everything a woman does—from getting her head shaved, to wearing anti-fit clothes, to buying shoes she cannot afford—is hailed as some sort of triumph for womankind. It is not. It is simply self-indulgence. This trivialises feminism and what it aspires for.

What we need is to be treated as equals, with dignity, respect and empathy. Is that asking for too much?

Is special treatment what we aspire for? No.

Just because our foremothers were treated unfairly, doesn't mean we start demanding special privileges as some sort of penance. We know how that works. It only leads to resentment.

What we need is to be treated as equals, with dignity, respect and empathy. Is that asking for too much?

Extra leave? Sure. Just don't call it period leave. We could do without yet another urban legend that surrounds a condition that is still celebrated as a young girl's coming of age in certain parts of the country.

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