Friday, January 16, 2009

Rachida Dati and Being A Woman

Being a woman is not easy. Being a working woman appears to be tough. Being a working woman who is in the public eye appears to be tougher. Rachida Dati, the French minister of justice is a brand new mother. There is nothing unusual about it. She is 43. That too is not unusual these days. Lots of women are having babies in their forties. What is unusual is her being back at office, attending meetings, just five days after delivering her baby by caesarean section. I for one can’t say how good that is for her health. If her obstetrician has allowed her and she feels fit enough, good for her. Who are we to intrude?
The trouble is that things that would not raise an eyebrow in case of men, tend to get everyone’s hackles up very often in case of women. (not that there could ever be a similar example of a man delivering a baby and joining work!) Sometimes, like in this case, one can’t even complain. What she has done, should justifiably be hers and her business alone. A lot of people could have been admiring her for her commitment to her work, her resilience, her will power. But here she appears to have generated a controversy. Women, specially the feminists, see this as an act of treason to their sex. They feel and rightly so, that her example could be used by employers to undermine the hard- fought and harder-won maternity rights.
A man could have a heart bypass, get a leg amputated, or donate a kidney and go to work any day he chose to and no one would bother to judge him. In Rachida’s case, the feminists would have been on her side had the traditionalists been sanctioning her for being a careless mother. But here are women, who want the right to choose more than anything else, denying Rachida the very same right! Does not seem right and yet, can they be blamed?
This act of the minister might not, though, lead to a law denying women the maternity leave; yet, it might change the expectations of the employers, especially in case of women occupying higher posts. They might expect another woman, high up on the corporate ladder to emulate her. But should that be her problem? Should that stop her from doing what she thinks is right? Or is it that she is doing this only out of a sense of insecurity? Is it that she feared that if she did not join office soon enough, she would lose her job? If a woman with her kind of powerful and prestigious job succumbs to such worries and pressures what would be the plight of her lesser sisters?
‘Sisters’ seems to be the keyword. It’s like preindependence India, when every Indian had to wear his/her nationalism in the form of khadi. The value of choice had to take a backseat when the more immediate one of independence was at stake. Perhaps what women expect from her is the same. Renounce the value of choice for the more immediate one of right to maternity benefits, the right to not to be penalized for being women and being mothers. Often women have to choose between motherhood and career.
Sisters, sisterhood… however sinister the implications of being put in a category, a class might be, yet women have to unite under a banner, which might as well be SISTERHOOD – a symbol of WOMEN OF THE WORLD.

Mired Mirage


P.N. Subramanian said...

Rachida Dati's joining duties very soon after a child birth is not going to be an impairment of privileges of working women (including those at the top of the ladder).They are already organised. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

Unknown said...

certainly a very sensitive issue u put very logically and with vast coverage of concern. Hats off to Rachita Dati Ji. In any condition its a very brave act. In my case I got my hand broken in two parts in 1997. I went for job the very next day doctor discharged me. It was 3rd day of operation and I work in a bank. But the same time I do not question the zeel of others who take proper rest. Same applies with Rachita Dati ji.

Anil said...

this is a great article written by you...if it is unpublished in any newspaper or mgzn. pls send it for publication.....

all the best

Science Bloggers Association said...

नाइस पोस्‍ट।

साइंस ब्‍लॉगर्स असोसिएशन

shama said...

I am visiting your blog after a long time...excellent is not the word to describe it...but then 'am always short of words...& not capable of commenting on writings/musings like yours. Thats my short coming.

I am thankful for your comments on my blog. They have proved to be amazingly correct guide lines...

But again, I humbly admit that, I am an extremely ordinary human being with hundreds of shortcomings.
Went though a phase where, I was totally misinterpreted...or say certain truths about my life got profound apologies, if you too got hurt in the process...I must admit that I have lost a lot during those 2 months...& got msgs saying ,I am a criminal, whom even God cannot forgive, and a 'kalank"on the womanhood! A very serious & baseless allegation, I must say!
Since you are writing on womanhood, I thought, its relevant to mention ...its so very easy to malign a woman's character!

Unknown said...

Good article.In USA, paid maternity leave (by the employer) is hardly for 4 weeks (unlike in India where new moms get 6 months). That takes its toll on the baby most as breast-feeding is affected most. Bonding (between the mom and infant is also affected, even though it may not look obvious). Re-joining the job shortly after the delivery also means that the family must have adequate financial resources and family support, otherwise it is simply not possible. Can a average working woman or family afford that?