A pregnant woman left a debate to get a snack and was told she’s “bringing down the whole of womankind.”
When you hear the phrase “bringing down the whole of womankind,” you probably imagine something quite dramatic. That something is definitely not getting a snack while seven months pregnant, but that’s exactly what Tulip Siddiq, UK Member of Parliament, was accused of doing when, after hours in a House of Commons session on Universal Credit welfare reforms, she quietly exited the room to grab a bite to eat. Seems a bit extreme, doesn’t it?
Siddiq’s transgression apparently infuriated Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing who reportedly told her that she made all women look bad by “playing the pregnancy card,” even though Siddiq exited and re-entered the room without referring to her pregnancy at all.
According to etiquette in this situation, if a member needs to leave a debate before convention allows, they would need to privately speak to the Chair who uses his or her discretion to grant leave or not. So basically, if you have a personal emergency or health issue, you have to “apply” before you can walk out the door.
It’s easy to see how awkward and embarrassing things could get if you don’t want to share with a colleague that you feel like barfing, or might have the runs, or that before you pass out in front of all of Parliament, you just really need to dip into the bag of cheesy Doritos that you swear you can smell through your leather briefcase thanks to pregnancy nose. We can only speculate on Siddiq’s situation, as she had to grace to not dignify the Deputy Speaker’s accusations by describing exactly why she needed to leave the room.
Pregnancy is a health condition. From conception to delivery to postpartum recovery, it’s an all-consuming, costly, closely-monitored, and occasionally debilitating health condition. People often make light of it because it’s common and also quite exciting, but anyone who’s been pregnant knows that it’s a hard-ass journey that changes your body, mind and soul, and each woman’s journey is different.
More often than not, mothers have an intimate relationship with food while pregnant. Some may just be trying to keep it down due to morning sickness while others have bizarre cravings and a desperate need to consume as much as possible. I’m not proud to admit that while heavily pregnant I felt compelled to eat cereal at 3 am every night in a hazy sleep state, and if anyone had reprimanded me for it, I probably would’ve cried and just continued to eat my feelings. So if Siddiq decided it was worth breaking protocol to feed herself, I have no doubt she did so because she felt she had to.
She confirmed the incident but has not yet filed a formal complaint against Laing. She said, “I think it shows the conventions of the House are outdated for anyone, let alone for pregnant women or people with health issues. In certain cases people should be given leeway to leave without having to go through an administrative process. Elsewhere in society that would just be common sense.” Common sense indeed: go get your snack girl.