Can you be a feminist but be anti maternity leave etc

(147 Posts)
BaresarkBunny Wed 28-Nov-12 10:43:54

Although I have children I often take a peek at the #childfree on Twitter.

One of the popular discussions at the moment is that maternity leave should be abolished as it is unfair to those without children and mothers should use holiday time.

One of the most prominent posters who believes this says on her bio that she is a feminist but is also anti breastfeeding in public and how mothers are a drain when working, as well as other anti-mother sentiments.

Can somebody with views like this count herself as a feminist?

JuliaScurr Thu 29-Nov-12 18:10:08

we live in a world that makes child rearing a burden. since even childfree 'feminists' will benefit from other women having the kids who will grow up and work in seniors' facilities when cff's are aged and frail, she is clearly an arse to believe childrearing is the private business of the biological mother.

scottishmummy Thu 29-Nov-12 18:16:32

motherhood isnt biological destiny,its a choice.some do it.some dont
maternity leave is not a jolly or elongated holiday.and no i dont think it detrimental to anyone else
but having child doesnt elevate women to godess and ardest job in world ststus
the sentimentality of mutha as ardest job in world is toxic and it smacks of wimmin know your place - sticke to what youre good at eg nurturing,dont bother with hard jobs now you have ardest job in world etc

scottishmummy Thu 29-Nov-12 18:25:35

if woman op refers to wants to call herself feminist thats her call imo.
plenty dispute camille paglia credentials calling her anti-feminist as she doesn't toe the line
its entirely possible to be feminist and challenge received orthodoxies

Trekkie Thu 29-Nov-12 23:28:35

I think that your friends ideas lack pragmatism.

To use holiday time to have children - say 4 weeks a year - would mean that women would get (if they saved all their holiday up) 2 or 3 weeks after giving birth to recover. Depending on timings and health complications it could be 1 week, 0 weeks or (actually probably quite frequently) a negative amount of time off!

If it were my friend I would forget the feminist argument and come from a basic human argument. If a woman works until she goes into labour, is in labour for a couple of days, and ends up with a CS, then she is going to need, medically, 6 weeks and 2 days off (assuming she heals OK etc). So this woman will forfeit her job. As will women who stop work on their due date and go overdue and have a CS, or women who have infections or complications post birth, or who have to stop work prior to their due date due to medical problems.

In a time of recession this course will result in women who are not fit for work, returning to work.

I would ask her if she feels that people with other medical conditions should have their time off work restricted.
If it's to do with "lifestyle choices" then does she think that anyone who has time off work due to "lifestyle choices" eg playing sports, riding motorcycles also needs to take recovery time off after injury out of their holiday time and be sacked if their condition (eg neck injury from rugby) be sacked if leave does not cover it?

And so on.

I think her attitude is illogical and impractical, and on a personal level I believe it is not in line with feminism as I understand it.

However I suspect your conversations will not get you anywhere except wound up so I recommend simply avoiding her wink

Winetta Fri 30-Nov-12 00:48:06

I'm a childfree feminist who is pro-public breastfreeding and indeed anything that makes mothers' (and fathers') lives easier - particularly in the working arena. For me, it's all about supporting, not judging, people's rights and choices.

Xenia Fri 30-Nov-12 19:01:44

Of course you can. The fact I had no maternity rights meant that I had a fair femniist marriage where we both from day 1 did as much with the babies and is the direct result of my having done so well with career and achieving equality at home over the years.

Ghettoising women at home with extended maternity rights is a bit like attaching them by a chain to a kitchen sink (although I certainly accept that the 6 weeks at 90% pay and then tiny amount per week you get does reflect recovery time of the physical birth element).

Also the making mother hood into some kind of job it isn't and men who say - my wife is wonderful, I could not do what she does is a way to keep women down. We all know cleaning and childcare is as dull as ditchwater and any woman with half a brain wants work and children just like men do, not a life of domestic servitude and no money and power. However that myth is peddled of sacred wonderful housewifery by sexist men and women who probably could not do much more than scrub a floor so have to suggest that their cleaning and childcare role is some kind of job for which they get a special halo. Instead that attitude is a conspiracy to ensure women never get anywhere. If it's such fun to clear up baby sick let men do it.

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 30-Nov-12 19:53:04

No, you can't. You can be deluded or ignorant, but not a feminist. IMHO.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Fri 30-Nov-12 20:11:01

Xenia, I'm curious, do you have a file that you copy and paste from?

scottishmummy Fri 30-Nov-12 20:31:13

what inane thing to say?
do you cut and paste from a file
is that an idea you want to share or advocate

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 30-Nov-12 20:35:24

I think them as needs it is already onto it, TBH. That or the unvarying drivel comes naturally.

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 30-Nov-12 20:46:37

I think the only way to reconcile being a feminist with opposing maternity leave, would be to say that it should change to parental leave and be take-able by either new parent. IMHO.

Your twitter lady there is just being an arse. Tis an equal-opportunity vocation though.

HalloweenNameChange Fri 30-Nov-12 20:56:18

I like looking after my children xenia. It does happen. Sitting in an office staring at a bunch of blowhards so full of their own importance they can't make room for dinner would bore the fuck out of me. I pity your kids you find them so boring, and whoever you paid to look after them as they clearly wouldn't have been shown any respect. The "jobs" you are talking about aren't even jobs in some countries.. why should people aspire to do them? In small villages around the world where the men and women look after their children and farm and hunt.. do you think they secretly all long to go be selling shares?

scottishmummy Fri 30-Nov-12 20:59:30

dont be so harsh on yourself ,we don't concur but I wouldn't say unvarying drivel
your not the only poster on fem topics who writes formulaic posts
the anti feminists,mra apologists they quite dribbley too

FastidiaBlueberry Sat 01-Dec-12 09:06:01

"it is entirely possible to be feminist and challenge received orthodoxies"

Yes it is, but categorising motherhood as a lazy skive, isn't challenging received orthodoxies, it's re-inforcing them.

Also this nonsense of anyone can call themselves a feminist - yes, obviously that's true, but only if you don't believe the term feminist has any meaning.

I can call myself a book if I want. The fact that "book" has a distinct and generally agreed meaning in the English language is irrelevant - I've decided to be a book today.

Much like women who have some sort of emotional investment in promoting women's disadvantage and then calling themselves feminist. It's meaningless and sensible people recognise that words have meanings because if they don't, then we're all sitting here talking incoherent nonsense all the time.

Um

MardyArsedMidlander Sat 01-Dec-12 10:04:54

'In small villages around the world where the men and women look after their children and farm and hunt.. do you think they secretly all long to go be selling shares?'

Since a large proportion of those women will also suffer injuries, disability and death from childbirth- I don't think we should be idealising it too much. Frankly, I would MUCH rather be a blowhard in an office- I would last two minutes in a 'traditional' village.
As a feminist, I would be much much happier if maternity leave was not seen as 'just' a woman's problem- presumably all these women are procreating with men- at some level?And as a disabled feminist, I would be happier to see MORE flexibility in the workplace, not less.

Xenia Sat 01-Dec-12 12:54:46

The 6 weeks of maternity leave on 90% pay is fine. We are about to give women and men more transferable rights and that is great too as chidlcare is a parent issue not a women's issue. the more rights you give to women but not to men the more you chain women to sinks and ensure they do dross dull jobs at home which you need a lobotomy to enjoy and men get to have the balanced lives of work and children.

kim147 Sat 01-Dec-12 13:09:29

Childcare should be seen as an issue for the family to sort out. Not for the woman.

Of course, some women feel it is their role to be the one who does the childcare as they are the only possible ones who know how to bring up their children and don't want to their OH to take responsibility for childcare as well.

Which then leads to the cycle of the man continuing to pursue a career whilst the woman is juggling her career and childcare responsibilities.

Xenia Sat 01-Dec-12 13:31:17

It is strange how some women see children as their issue. What makes them like that? It is not age. 30 years ago my children's father and I saw this as a joint issue. We interviewed a nanny together. He arguably did more than I did with hiring and keeping her.I think I dealt with the nanny tax/admin and he usually got home first to let her go home.

Surely rolling on nearly 30 years men have not become more sexist and women haven't gone back to some kind of sexist role? That would be very very sad to see. Most men I know or have known over all that time are as competent as a wife at finding and hiring childcare and women with sense avoid sexist men and do not tolerate sexism even for a day - they throw up their hands in horrow, say not on you nelly, here is the phone book, find the emergency nanny, I will be back at 7pm. Or more likely work out who has the most important tasks that day and organise things accordingly.

summerflower Sat 01-Dec-12 13:58:32

>>Surely rolling on nearly 30 years men have not become more sexist and women haven't gone back to some kind of sexist role? <<

I think two things in response to this:

1. there has been a backlash. Measures which made it easier for women to combine family and work, such as childcare tax credits, have been rolled back.
2. Equality in child-rearing was never really achieved, except maybe for a minority, and the exception does not prove the rule. Otherwise, we would surely see, after 30 years, a more equal number of women in senior roles, following the logic that the women at the start of their careers, and having families in the 80s, would be at senior level now. Whereas it is between 0 and 20% depending on the field and level of seniority, which suggests thats, in the balance of career and family, men have done better professionally over the last 30 years.

Xenia Sat 01-Dec-12 14:07:04

I had no tax credits or childcare vouchers 28 years ago. In fact that is my point - the absence of those things made women return to work which meant more fairness at home and equality in relationships.

I was a product of the 70s and women really were aware of feminism then. We were reading all the feminist books as teenagers. In the mean time after that came girls brought up on MTV, soaps, woman as visual item rather than woman as business leader and those equality gains which followed inr elationships just after the Equal Pay Act 1970 seem a little to have been lost.

However I amn ot disheartened as (a) things are now better -feminism is going back to how it was - not a dirty work (b) most parents bring up their children in gender neutral ways (c) most women work and have the sense not to enable sexist men.

Women continued to marry up even if they had degrees so when it came do - does this woman on £40k give up work or her husband on £100k even with advancement of women the woman was pin money second earner so her career came second. When women are as likely to marry men who are worse than they are at careers etc then decisions about if either will stay home will be made on gender neutral grounds. It is happening but not that quickly as even though women are doing wellthey still marry someone a bit older who earns more.

You could argue that the reason I earn what I do now after 5 children is because I broke the rule and ended up earning 10x my other half. Had he earned double what I did I might have put less into career and earned less or gone part time. I am of course delighted I didn ot.

summerflower Sat 01-Dec-12 14:21:00

I don't know, my mother had her children in the 1970s and without affordable childcare, found it very difficult to pursue her chosen career. I suspect her experience may have been more common at a population level than yours, I don't know.

MariaMandarin Sat 01-Dec-12 14:42:55

I can see the argument for restricting maternity leave, if only looked at from the point of view of women's advancement in careers and ensuring gender equality in the workplace. If you feel this is the ultimate goal of feminism then it makes sense. But if you have other considerations, such as the needs of the baby, then I am afraid there is no argument. Babies need to be with a primary carer with whom they can form an attachment. Great if you can afford a nanny or maternity nurse, not so great otherwise. This is why Xenia's arguments are always flawed, because she was in the financial position to make things work for her and her children. The majority of people are not, and never will be, no matter how hard we all work.

HalloweenNameChange Sat 01-Dec-12 15:42:11

mardyI am not really sure of your point, my response was to xenia's idea that women hate being around children and that the only real work you can have is a job.. which to me is a totally artificial as Jobs aren't real, our society invented most of them.. why would anyone have a natural urge to do something unnatural? My dh absolute would prefer to be home with our children.. he doesn't want to spend all day in an office.. we need the money and as he hasn't got breasts I won and got to stay home. When they are older I think we will probably switch and he will stay home while I work. Or we will each work part time.

I can't see feminism is helped by women slagging off the work women have done since the beginning of time while simultaneously praising the work men have traditionally done in our society. How is men=better/important a feminist principal? Sounds awfully misogynistic to me. It's this kind of shit that gets jobs done by females paid less as they aren't valued.

monsterchild Sat 01-Dec-12 15:57:57

I think the long maternity leave has been detrimental to many women, based on what I've read here. It does presumably do good for babies, but again, that argument brings us to the why do babies have more rights than women place, doesn't it?

And when I say detrimental, it seems that (again, this is from reading this site, there isn't much maternity leave in the States) many women who do stay home end up staying longer, or due to length of unemployment (mainly due to this downturn) becoming unemployable.

It troubles me because I don't think work equality is the only way to measure success, but I do think it adds to the male-centric view that women can't/won't earn equal money and be able to support their families.

And I also see many women bashing others for NOT taking a long maternity leave, which confuses me too.

However, the person in the link is just mean and nasty, and that's not a feminist issue at all.

HazleNutt Sat 01-Dec-12 16:04:21

Scandinavia has longer parental leave, but not the same level of discrimination of women and mothers. What's different though is that almost all mothers return to work after the leave and mostly full time, not to "term time school hours only jobs", as there is affordable child care. (And of course fathers are fully expected to share the leave and take time off too.)

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