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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?

confuddledDOTcom Mon 03-Dec-12 17:00:38

LRD, I should learn to quote more blush I wasn't replying to you, I was replying to this:

That is the message we need to get home that loads of men and women have large families and adore their full time work and lead happy lives particularly if they don't suffer sexism at home.

LRDtheFeministDude Mon 03-Dec-12 17:02:31

You're fine! It is just I am slow of thinking and need to check these things! grin

LeBFG Mon 03-Dec-12 17:22:14

Indeed, DoctrineOfSnatch. There will never be equality in everyone's eyes.

By the by, I'm a little unconvinced that mat leave is so important wrt birth rates. Take Germany for example, in Narked's link, there was a range of problems listed and proposed, interestingly, was that educated women are taking longer to get their careers off the ground and by the time they are thinking about reproducing, their fertility has dropped. Perhaps if Blair had got half the school population into unis we would be facing a similar crisis (not a serious idea grin but a nice thought-experiment ending to Xenia's get-earning philosophy).

mindosa Mon 03-Dec-12 21:30:19

No, I think you need to support maternity leave.
BUT if you are serious about a career in finance, law etc then 6 months off is career suicide. I dont care how many anecdotal stories I hear to the contrary, its fact!

HalloweenNameChange Tue 04-Dec-12 02:46:01

he thinks women make better mothers

Yeah, LRD, I think everyone agrees with him too grin

LeBFG Tue 04-Dec-12 08:45:16

Mindose, it's one of those great disturbing truths women find at certain levels in certain careers.

In my background, science, publishing hiatuses are not viewed on well. If you've had a productive period before taking time off you can write papers while at home and so bridge the gap a bit. Long term though, if you want more than one child, it gets very difficult. I know personally four women lecturers, two junoir and two high-flyers all of whom have 2 or more children. The two high-flyers went straight back to work Xenia style (one was taking PhD meetings from her hospital bed!). I've often thought if this was neccessary and how it would impact the family. I think these sorts of 'successful' women have simply adapted male roles to complete in a world of rules set up with men in mind.

It's hard to see how mat leave helps women's careers in these fields very much (helps woman and baby yes) unless the nature of these careers changes substantially.

Narked Tue 04-Dec-12 12:32:59

If you start treating the birth of babies as essential to society rather than a women's issue then you solve a lot of problems. When it's seen as a 'women's issue' it gets less attention. The debate becomes tangled with various ideas of what 'most' women want or what they should want. It should be viewed as economic planning. It's good for all of us when people have DC.

LeBFG Tue 04-Dec-12 12:53:10

As a bit of an environmentalist, I have a problem with this approach. ALthough birth rates are important to the prosperity within a country, morally how can we be encouraging higher births rates with the world population so high? In France you get child support for one kid up to 3 years old, then nothing...unless you have two or more then you get it up to 18. It's policies like this that are seen to 'support the family', 'babies essential to society' etc but which as the same time grate at this other part of me that think it's morally wrong to encourage higher reproduction rates.

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 04-Dec-12 12:58:46

halloween - oh, you know what I mean! blush grin

'... are we agreed he can't be a mother, which isn't anyone's fault, not having a womb and all, but he can have the right to want to be a mother ...'

monsterchild Tue 04-Dec-12 13:42:59

I don't think birth rates are so essential to society. Certainly if you population is waning, then it's a different issue to a growing population. This is a county by country problem.

But I also agree with LeBFG, population is a concern, and all aspects of it need to be looked at, not just the "will there be young people around to pay for me" part.

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 04-Dec-12 13:46:15

confused So how is that not thinking birth rates are essential?

If it's country by country, isn't it a bit like saying 'well, we can exploit UK women, after all we don't really need as many people having babies?'. I think that is exactly what is going on, btw, but I don't like it.

MardyArsedMidlander Tue 04-Dec-12 13:59:18

I agree with BFG- birth rates may be waning in Japan and Germany. But I wonder how much of that is down to choice?- perhaps some women, given the choice, don't want to have children. And on a worldwide scale, population growth is a real concern. The sad fact is that a child born in the West is going to have more of an enviornmental impact.
There are plenty of young people in the rest of the world, able to take up the slack.

monsterchild Tue 04-Dec-12 14:15:00

I meant increasing birth rates isn't essential. They are increasing, just not in most industrialized countries.

LRDtheFeministDude Tue 04-Dec-12 14:24:35

Ah, got you. Yes, I agree.

But I feel as if we're talking cross purposes.

At the level of society, we need people to have children. We just do. We'd die out if not. Sure, this isn't remotely likely to happen, but it does mean that having children isn't a totally private and individual choice. And yet it is so often treated like that - as if it's a woman's (often just a woman's, and her partner not mentioned) personal choice and doesn't affect the rest of us.

Besides which, the fact that there are increasing birthrates across the world, doesn't mean countries like Germany aren't concerned, because we don't have a universalized pension scheme so the fact that their country's birthrate is going down, will be a real concern.

RiaUnderTheMistletoe Tue 04-Dec-12 14:31:57

In terms of global population, people living longer is at least as important as birth rate. There are more generations alive today than there were a century ago, and that's a lot of extra mouths to feed. At the same time, where women in developing countries become more educated and have access to family planning, the birth rate falls. I think this is the key to dealing with over-population, along with living more sustainably, rather than cutting maternity rights.

LeBFG Tue 04-Dec-12 14:39:03

Birth rates are an important part of a country's wealth/potential so to speak. This value isn't necessarily the same on the global stage. However, this is all much-of-a-muchness because countries always work with their own interests at heart. They have to.

You could think of mat leave and other methods to make lives easier for working mothers as measures put in place as part of the 'human rights package for mothers'. Or equally as ways of encouraging/discouraging them to have more kids. Any policy influencing birth rates must have a political as well as human rights element/justification. There must be a range of provisions which suit a country's women and its politics. Where there is a large gap between the two I guess you get discontent and protests. Where they more-or-less match, then everyone's happy. As some countries are facing tighter and tighter budget controls I expect we'll see more and more protests at the eating away of mat leave and the like.

MardyArsedMidlander Wed 05-Dec-12 17:58:40

'but it does mean that having children isn't a totally private and individual choice. And yet it is so often treated like that - as if it's a woman's (often just a woman's, and her partner not mentioned) personal choice and doesn't affect the rest of us.'

Sure, if there is a way of having a child without involving MY uterus, MY body and MY fanjo confused. It HAS to be a personal choice- unless you stray into the area of eugenics and encouraging certain sectors of the population to breed. Or banning contraception along with abortion.
Perhaps- radical suggestion- society could try looking after the children already here. And then I'd be out of a job.

LRDtheFeministDude Wed 05-Dec-12 18:07:09

I'm sorry, I put that badly.

I am not suggesting it is anyone's choice but yours to get pregnant, or that anyone else can make that choice for you.

The posts I was responding to, however, weren't about pregnancy, they were about whether it's ok to say that every social disadvantage women (specifically mothers) face is their own problem because they 'chose' to have a child.

I don't believe this is fair, because that choice to have a child also has inescapable and very basic implications for the rest of society.

I'm a little confused as to what in my posts made you think I wasn't suggesting society should be looking after children already here? confused

Narked put is so much better than me so I will quote: 'If you start treating the birth of babies as essential to society rather than a women's issue then you solve a lot of problems.'

I would argue that denying women access to contraception etc is making it a 'woman's issue' because it is focussing on taking away her rights, not on looking after her as a person and then, if it comes, her child as a person).

I think this is true that making it not a 'woman's issue' is also better from an environmentalist point of view, since at the moment I think the motivations for having/not having children are so screwed up with women's poverty (which is huge), women's status and women's rights over their own bodies, it's hard for the environmental arguments to get any look in. But I could be wrong here, it's just a hunch.

MmBovary Thu 13-Dec-12 14:57:57

I haven't read the whole thread but I think parental - not just maternity - leave is extremely important to promote equality both in the work place and at home.

I think many socialist countries got it right to make maternity leave as long as possible. However, it's not just maternity leave and its conditions we need to work on, it's paternity leave too. It should be made compulsory for men to take at least six months of leave when they have a baby, so when they apply for a job, employers don't make any distinctions between men and women. Men should feel exactly the same pressure women feel when they return to work after maternity leave.

I do find it odd that a feminist is against promoting parental leave, however, we also have to respect and try to undertand the opinions of people (both men and women) who don't want children or can't have children and might feel the pressure at work from those who have children and need a lot of accommodating.

My main issue with granting parental leave only to women and not men is that many see it as a springboard to become SAHM's for the next ten years of their lives, and that is certainly something detrimental to the situation of future generations women in society.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 13-Dec-12 18:58:41

MmB would you make six months' parental leave compulsory for both parents? Because at the moment it's optional for both except the six weeks minimum (or is it two weeks for non-physical jobs).

GoldPlatedNineDoors Thu 13-Dec-12 19:01:51

Medically you need time to recover from.pregnancy and labour. You also need time to mentally adjust to parenthood. Maternity Leave is the time you need to recover physically and adjust emotionally.

Surely even a staunch feminist can agree that seeing as we are the onoy gender that can birth a baby, that alone justifies the need for recovery and adjustment time.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 13-Dec-12 22:47:26

Lots of staunch feminists would agree with you, Gold!

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