Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Parental Leave - A Feminist Issue

I'm trying out an argument here and looking for feedback.

The feminist position on parenting is as follows: Men and women should have equal choices when it comes to work and caregiving.

Historically, feminists have advocated for employment policies that support women who choose to have a family and want to work. These include: paid maternity leave, available and affordable childcare, re-entry possibilities for women who leave the workforce while their kids are small and so have gaps on their resume, and flex time. In academia, policies have included allowing for a delay on the tenure clock for women who have children.

Men should have the same range of choices.

That they do not, frequently, is not because feminists are discriminating against men (as claimed by Men's Rights Advocates), but because patriarchy still forces men and women into binaries in which male caregiving is abnormal.

Does this work? What else do I need to say here?

5 comments:

Clay Dreslough said...

I agree 100% with your reasoning. What you may want to add, because it may not be obvious, is that the denial of parental rights to men is not only an attack against men by the patriarchy, it is an attack against women. Imagine a heterosexual couple on tenure track at a university. The woman gets pregnant and they need to decide as a family who will take time off for parenting.

If there are generous maternity policies as you describe, the woman has to bite the bullet and "take advantage" of those policies. Because if the man chooses to be a full-time parent, it will ruin his career. But the mother's career won't be ruined (or, at least, not as much).

David Perry said...

Yes, exactly. Thanks.

Clay Dreslough said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clay Dreslough said...

Maternity leave by country (map):

http://bit.ly/1blCaGA

David Perry said...

Yes, I saw that. I wonder what the paternity leave map would look like.