Feminists Gone Wild – Paid Maternity Leave


Kathleen McCartney is president of Smith College. Seriously, she is. She published this op/ed in the Beantown Globule:

Time to rethink our social construct of motherhood

Nearing the end of her three-month maternity leave, my daughter is celebrating her first Mother’s Day with her daughter, Tessa. In 1985, when I was pregnant with her younger sister, I was an assistant professor at Harvard University. I remember asking the chair of my department, a child development scholar like myself, for a maternity leave. He declined my request, arguing that a leave would not be fair to my male colleagues because I might spend some of the time working on research. I suspect all mothers know that a maternity leave is not a sabbatical.

My daughter is among the lucky ones who has paid parental leave as a work benefit. Alas, a mere 12 percent of employed workers in the United States have access to paid family leave, a figure that also encompasses those caring for sick children or adult relatives. Not enough has changed in the decades separating my daughter’s first Mother’s Day from my own.

Motherhood is a cultural invention. It reflects a belief adopted by society that is passed down from one generation to the next. In US culture, we hold to the idea that young children are better off when cared for exclusively by their mothers. Mothers are bombarded by this message in the media, especially in programming directed to them. Only after five seasons does Claire Dunphy, the iconic mother of “Modern Family,” return to the workplace.

Anthropologists have attempted to disavow us of this view. Specifically they have demonstrated that child-rearing patterns are driven by economic considerations. In foraging societies, mothers stay in close proximity with their babies, while in agricultural societies mothers share child-rearing responsibilities with those less able to be productive in the fields, like grandmothers and young girls. Shared child-rearing has been and continues to be the norm across cultures.


Our cultural construction of motherhood is rooted in a particularly strong American bias toward personal responsibility, reflected across our social policies. This is why, in the United States, my daughter’s three-month paid leave is considered generous. In Sweden, where new mothers are guaranteed 16 months paid leave, it would be laughable. The United States ranks last among 38 developed nations in paid parental leave benefits: we guarantee none.

Say what?

Motherhood is a cultural invention. Unlike all the other mammals, humans apparently have no natural maternal instincts. Therefore, we should guarantee paid maternity leave.

WTF? Is that the strangest argument you ever heard or what?

We already have something called the “Family and Medical Leave Act” which guarantees some employees up to 12 months of unpaid leave for a family emergency, or new baby. It doesn’t cover all employees or all employers, but it does provide benefits to millions of people.

Paid maternity leave is a whole ‘nuther animal. Not only do employers have to pay an employee to miss work but they also have to pay for their temporary replacement. But if they like the temporary replacement better than the original employee they can’t keep them because they have to rehire to original employee.

What could possibly go wrong?



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"If you hit an artery, somebody can bleed out in two minutes."
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55 Responses to Feminists Gone Wild – Paid Maternity Leave

  1. Myiq2xu says:

    Teh Kittehs are outside. I have cat food, but I am all out of kitty treats.

    I am scared.

  2. Dora says:

    This is a few days old, but I’m still catching up.

    In Praise of Pamela Geller


  3. DeniseVB says:

    So we’re back in the OB/GYN waiting room? 😉 Maybe if the ladies want *free* school/bc/maternity/leave with pay, they should join the military? There are options out there. Big companies have perks also, but you have to earn those by being a valuable employee to the company.

  4. Lulu says:

    When I was pregnant (three times!) I knew generally when the children were going to be born. My husband and I planned accordingly for a period when I would not be working. The funny thing is that I was a federal employee and had vacation and sick leave. BUT I could not use over six weeks sick leave and anything over that had to be vacay or as I figured out no pay time. If I used up most of my vacay I found out (by personal experience) or sick time I would be hassled or denied leave if I or my young child was ill. So by child number two and three I took the entire 3 months off without pay. Now I understand that this would be difficult for some people but we were far from wealthy or even well to do but managed to figure out our basic expenses and save to cover it. I do not understand people who can’t figure out that they have a child coming in 6-9 months (whenever they figure out they are expecting) and are going to have some financial wrangling to do and plan for it. To not do so seems juvenile and selfish.

    • 49erDweet says:

      I managed a state agency’s local office. We had 20 full time and 10 part time staff members, and also had “parental leave”. They gave us a lean budget and unlike most other agencies, were forced to operate within it.
      Maternity (or paternity) leave just meant she/he went on part time status and was off schedule, so we moved someone else up to full time and it didn’t really effect our service or work load. When the new parent came back we gave them full time hours out of our part time budget until the next FT slot opened, if they wanted it. Some didn’t. It was no big deal. Granted, if the office only had 10 people assigned it would have been harder, but most small businesses have more employees than one thinks. The local McD’s has 32.

      • Lulu says:

        As I recall I told my managers what I was going to do re: leave without pay. They asked for overtime in an amount similar to what I earned in those quarters and got it. I knew of no other employee then or since who did that. One of my work friends worked loads of overtime while I was on leave and it helped pay the down payment for a new house. She still lives in it. She didn’t bitch about it but turned it to her advantage. For every negative there can be a positive.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      I agree!!! 🙂

  5. DeniseVB says:

    Anyone remember the Little Green Footballs blog ?


    • 49erDweet says:

      Little Green Idiots is more like it.

    • 1539days says:

      Basically, Charles Johnson (not the disgusting gotnews guy, but the annoying blogger guy) was one of the main locations where the Bush memos were discredited. This was like in the top 10 of internet stories. He doesn’t put that on his gofundme because he’s ashamed he got Bush reelected now.

      Instead, he developed an irrational hatred of Sarah Palin and made her the focus of everything he wanted to purge. He freed the comments section of “trolls” by banning anyone who disagrees and blocking all new registrations for months at a time. That’s how you create an exclusive club, by excluding people. He’d be better off charging a fee to comment at all, or charge to even see his content. I bet he could get $20 a head per year.

  6. DeniseVB says:

    From now on you can call me D’nice 😀

  7. piper says:

    Let’s face it – As usual I’m posting outside the main thread but Armstrong Williams has written another worthwhile article about the black community.

    “And so they came to Washington to ‘cash a check’ (to paraphrase King) that would cover the remainder of their birthright as American citizens.

    What blacks got when they cashed that check was not their birthright. Of course the right to vote was formally recognized and began to be slowly enforced. But Washington’s main thrust was to try and paper over the decades of pain and oppression suffered by blacks with a shiny new toy – the Great Society program. The program offered to cure all the ills of black America with government entitlements – Food Aid, housing assistance, Medicare, a variety of educational enrichment programs, and the like – it promised a glorious path for Americans (black Americans especially) out of poverty and into the middle class. Those were the glory days of America. With a large industrial base and a growing economy, it seemed as if authorizing major new spending programs designed to deal with intractable social problems just might be the key to maintaining racial harmony and achieving the goals of social justice set forth by King and others.”

    Complete thread at link:

  8. DeniseVB says:


  9. DandyTIger says:

    Imagine if you had a kid in Smith College and just found out the president of the college was batshit insane. Seriously, she is.

  10. Dora says:

    Oh no! Now it’s Central Park.

    Gang of Black Youths Rob & Beat Couple in Central Park

    • Lulu says:

      Is a camera licker like a window licker? And where do all these creepy people come from?

      • DeniseVB says:

        I think the camera belonged to an Oppo Tracker, but that was gross.

        • Lulu says:

          Just blocking the view was fine. But not being able to control your impulses and stick your tongue on stuff is what idiots are known for. I have considered libertarians a sub-group of idiots for quite some time now. A few years ago a young man was pursuing my daughter. I met him once and he talked about Rand Paul. He is very good looking, a decent student, wealthy Scot family that worked in the US off and on, bankers, etc. I told her get rid of him. He is an idiot and there is something wrong with him He was indicted for securities fraud last week. LOL. He is so young he can probably plead out but will have to leave the US.

  11. Falstaff says:

    OT but fascinating. Christianity is fading fast in the US, the fastest growing religious group is basically the infidels. At this rate, in couple of decades there will be a lot of prime real estate where once there were christian churches.

    • lyn says:

      The sad thing is that the infidels are worse than the religious nuts, IMHO.

      • Lulu says:

        I don’t understand why the so-called atheists can’t see through Islam. If they reject Christianity why can’t they reject Islam which is far worse? Maybe it is too obvious for them to comprehend.

        • Falstaff says:

          Every atheist I know thinks that Islam is a crock of shit: just more fairy tales about a magic sky daddy and his plans for those who worship him. Bill Maher is hardly atypical of atheist attitudes toward Islam, in my experience.

        • DeniseVB says:

          I think the atheists are afraid of them, much easier to intimidate the passive Christians by taking down their crosses and nativity scenes.

          • lyn says:

            Yep. The fanatic Christians target abortion clinics and abortionists; they don’t kill non-believers.

        • lyn says:

          The bigotry toward Christianity is acceptable, because they feel superior to anyone who believes in a power greater than herself or himself.

    • 1539days says:

      We’re behind the curve compared to Europe, and they still have major churches. Where I live, all the old churches are still there and just as many new, non-denominational ones have popped up.

      Oh, and that Pew survey still says 71% of Americans are Christians.

  12. threewickets says:

    Don’t see what’s wrong with having paid maternity leave. We’re the only nation in the world that doesn’t have it.

    • Myiq2xu says:

      Let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with an employer offering generous paid medical/maternity leave to their employees. I have a problem with the government mandating an expensive benefit in what amounts to a hidden tax.

      There are a lot of ideas that sound wonderful but they’re not free. Right now we have a stagnant economy and an $18 TRILLION national debt. So who is gonna pay for this new benefit?

      • lililam says:

        I have a larger problem with the president of an expensive college making an incoherent argument. Re: paid maternity/paternity leave- it can be funded with a combo of a small payroll tax like disability combined with redirection of the child care credit.

      • 49erDweet says:

        Yeah. I agree. It’s one way to attract qualified employees, but it should not be mandatory.

    • DeniseVB says:

      I always thought if there were a better country than ‘Merica, I’d move to it. True story, we got as far as Florida! No income tax on retired income!!! Bad news, we’re going to tax the hell out you for your home and any other accumulated wealth you EARNED BITCHES. So we stay in Virginny, even McAuliffe isn’t a bad gov 🙂 Moral: Be careful what you wish for.

  13. Myiq2xu says:

    No Jessica, that’s creepin’ on a stranger.

  14. SHV says:

    “an $18 TRILLION national debt…”
    I recently read that after adding up all of the Fed Govt financial obligations such as SS, Medicare, Fed pensions, etc., etc., the national debt is about $210 trillion.

    • DeniseVB says:

      I’m sure half of that’s already gone to (or owed to) the “Friends of the Obama Library Building Fund” and the “My Brothers Keepers Professional Race Baiting Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Foundation”

  15. foxyladi14 says:

    People should have a Baby fund.
    To go with the Christmas fund. 😀

  16. 1539days says:

    The question that any company or country has to ask about maternity leave is, “What’s in it for me?” Countries like Sweden have a declining homogeneous population and are trying to preserve ethnic identity. The solution by their government is to bribe women to have children by paying for time off and giving them free stuff.

    In other countries, it’s political. People in Europe often feel entitled to their jobs, mostly because they are hard to get and the laws about labor let them stay there for their whole career. So politicians know that they get reelected by forcing businesses to keep a job that belongs to someone while they take a six week vacation or a 16 week maternity leave. The business pays more taxes and expenses and eventually moves their operation to China or closes entirely.

    Where government subsidizes leave, the people who pay taxes pay for this “benefit.” In the US, companies use this as a way to keep valuable talent.

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