Pregnant woman left standing sparks etiquette debate

Pregnant woman left standing sparks etiquette debate

Credit: Getty Images

British politician Jo Swinson - pictured on far left.

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by Teresa Blackman, kgw.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on October 21, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 21 at 2:03 PM

A debate has begun swirling on social media over whether it is "sexist" to expect a man to give up his seat to a pregnant woman, following a packed House of Commons session where a female British politician was left standing for 30 minutes, with no offers for a break off her feet.

British Equality Minister Jo Swinson, 33, is 7 months pregnant.  She stood in the crowded chamber amid hundreds of her seated male peers because there were no other seats available last Friday.

A controversy erupted afterwards, with many criticizing her male counterparts for not following "proper etiquette" and offering to give her their seat and stand in her place.

After the incident, a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron cited public transport as a comparison and said offering a seat to a person in a greater need was "a very understandable thing to do."

Well-known newspaper The Guardian gave Brits a chance to sound off on the issue and many did.  Some said this was an example of very bad manners.  Others remarked that Swinson should not be treated any differently than her hardworking peers.

Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Willie Geist, with NBC's TODAY, also discussed the issue during the morning show. They all felt it would be common courtesy for a man to give up his seat in this type of situation.

For her part, Swinson said she was fine with standing. But she tweeted that seat offers were welcome, and not considered "sexist" in her opinion.  Later, she sent out another lighthearted tweet titled "Lovely things you could do for a pregnant woman today."

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