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Archive for the ‘maternity leave’ Category

Here, thanks to Sonja at Broad Joy949 for podcasting one of my panels from the Feminist Writers Festival. (The panel also includes Petra Bueskens and Viv Smythe).

Some of the topics discussed in this special panel was how trends and characteristics in current online feminism intersects with economics and the historical ‘dance of capitalism and feminism’ and how it at times has very unhealthy outcomes.

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This is wonderful.

From Michele A’Court’s “Stop saying dumb shit, and other top tips for all the Kevins of the world” in The Spinoff. 

And why should you want to do all this? Because, just like you said, there are all these “talented, creative females” who spend a decade absorbing all that institutional knowledge, getting all that experience, who could go further and do more. And, let’s be honest, you’re tired of shouldering it all. And you drink too much and work too hard and miss out on the kids growing up and get depressed and have heart attacks and die earlier. Or you end up saying stupid things in interviews near the end of your career, and all anyone will say when they hear your name is, “Kevin?  Wasn’t he that guy who said women can’t be leaders?” and it won’t be an entirely accurate encapsulation of what you said but still, it’ll be what they say.

And that’s a tragedy, too.

 

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Remember that whole ridiculousness when Meghann Foye said she wanted maternity leave ‘perks’ for those who don’t have children? And I wondered at the time would Foye feel at all comfortable trivialising bereavement leave or sick leave in the same way?

Anyway, here’s a lovely reply to that sentiment… all this grim loveliness.

Andrea maternity leave

This is maternity and paternity leave: a time of terror, joy, fear, wonder, pain, blood, and tears. A time of leaking breastmilk and sleeping for no more than two hours at a stretch. A time of your partner having to lift you out of bed.

In an era of highly curated selfies, it isn’t easy to show the world what we look like at our most raw. But we want the world to see us, and know us, like this. No, we wouldn’t trade a moment of it, and no, we’re not complaining. We are simply showing the emotional, painful, joyful, unreal realities of new parenthood. We’re doing the work of humanity, and we’re asking you to see and value that work for the beautiful mess that it is.

From “8 Honest, Raw Photos of What Maternity Leave Really Looks Like” by Jessica Shortall in Elle. 

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File this under: Maybe how you feel about mothering, and your feminism, says something about how your country feels about you as a mother.

Great article from Abigail Rasminsky in The Cut, “I had a baby in Europe; here’s what it did to me”.  

But unlike my husband and me, my expat friends didn’t struggle over the gendered turn their marriages had taken. These women had already given up their careers upon moving to Vienna, or had always expected a year or two of paid leave with a new baby. They felt little anxiety about keeping their careers going — or, like me, getting them out of the red. Why should they? By law, their jobs were protected.

A few months in, I started to understand the question my midwife had posed when I asked her about using a breast pump. “But where are you going?” she’d wanted to know, as if I were planning to abandon my child. The logic seemed to be: My husband had his job, and I had mine, which was culturally mandated and for which I was paid. What else could I possibly want?

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Apart from undermining the credibility of paternity leave what is the point of this?

And Kate Harding has written the most perfect reply over at Dame Magazine.

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I was on a panel in The Guardian on Friday with john Quiggin and Celeste Liddle and others reflecting on Abbott’s first year as prime minister.

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.. And I wrote a little about my observations.

But first, what makes the findings of the Westpac Report especially interesting is that this survey only looks at professional women and men with a minimum yearly income of $85, 000. In other words, these are Sheryl Sandberg’s women ‘leaning in’ and the men in the survey are those to whom they are leaning towards in the name of power and influence in the business world. Together, their attitudes are important signals about changing values in the corporate and managerial landscape when it comes to combining work and family.

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Susan Faludi is the business. “Facebook feminism, like it or not” in The Baffler is brilliant.

Beneath highly manicured glam shots, each “member” or “partner” reveals her personal “Lean In moment.” The accounts inevitably have happy finales—the Lean In guidelines instruct contributors to “share a positive ending.” Tina Brown’s Lean In moment: getting her parents to move from England to “the apartment across the corridor from us on East 57th Street in New York,” so her mother could take care of the children while Brown took the helm at The New Yorker. If you were waiting for someone to lean in for child care legislation, keep holding your breath. So far, there’s no discernible groundswell.

When asked why she isn’t pushing for structural social and economic change, Sandberg says she’s all in favor of “public policy reform,” though she’s vague about how exactly that would work, beyond generic tsk-tsking about the pay gap and lack of maternity leave. She says she supports reforming the workplace—but the particulars of comparable worth or subsidized child care are hardly prominent elements of her book or her many media appearances.

And

Sandberg’s admirers would say that Lean In is using free-market beliefs to advance the cause of women’s equality. Her detractors would say (and have) that her organization is using the desire for women’s equality to advance the cause of the free market. And they would both be right. In embodying that contradiction, Sheryl Sandberg would not be alone and isn’t so new. For the last two centuries, feminism, like evangelicalism, has been in a dance with capitalism.

Which brings me back to this recent post… Capitalism both accelerated women’s liberation and exacerbated inequality and there is no feminist analysis of anything in our lives without consideration of that fact. I seem to continually find myself writing articles about the tensions between work and family and apart from the fact that I might be a bit repetitive I also think this stuff is at the very heart of what feminism is trying to reconcile.

Previous posts on this blog on the topic include:

The split

Some women want to stay home with children and feminism needs to make peace with that

The real reason why you should be careful in your discussions about mothers

David Willets – yeah kinda, but not really

Workplace flexibility is a feminist issue

You must read

Why we should be careful taking ‘maternity’ out of parental leave

What does feminist motherhood look like when black mothers are defining it?

Mother guilt as a luxury item

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Foregoing children was a complicated, difficult decision for me. It was riddled with fears about my parenting abilities, an irrational terror of labor pains, and the reality that I simply never felt ready. But once the decision was behind me, I enjoyed my marriage and career largely unfettered, supportive of my colleagues with kids, yet never imagining that I’d experience anything like the comings and goings of maternity leave that presented them with so many challenges. That is, until my parents began to age.

Great article from Rosanna Fay in The Atlantic, “How caring for aging parents affects a career”. Let’s stop thinking of care responsibilities as being ‘your choice, your problem’ and let’s also stop thinking that we’re all fully independent worker bees our entire lives, and let’s stop thinking workplace policies for flexibility are some kind of special perk that mothers get.

 

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I see that as long as any kind of social transfer is involved rich women are as capable of “getting themselves pregnant” as teenage girls are claimed to be. Because conception is something that women and girls do to themselves, presumably by deliberately and irresponsibly walking through a cloud of anonymous, minding-its-own-business sperm somewhere. Apparently, these same women then gestate, sitting back and waiting for the spoils to come their way. How unfortunate that men can not avail themselves of the incredible opportunities presented by motherhood, like lower earnings capacity, increased job insecurity, drive-by judgementalism and diminished status.

Note that in the election debate “the pretty little lady lawyer on the northshore is having a kid” (a sentiment I have seen expressed multiple times elsewhere during the campaign), and that the rich women in the meme, above, are “breeding”..  telling expressions.. because exactly where are the fathers in this condemnation? And why are children not part of our community, why are they not somebody whose interests we deem worthy of consideration in an election?

I’m not a huge fan of Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme, (although I appreciate the progressiveness of treating maternity leave like other forms of workplace leave, I don’t believe the scheme is there to address a genuine policy problem and its funding is likely coming at the expense of funding opportunities for other big policy problems).. but I could do without the sexist claptrap in the discussion.

Cross-posted at Hoyden About Town.

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