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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?

Nagoo Wed 28-Nov-12 10:54:00


You can't pretend our biological function doesn't exist. If you aren't supporting women to be mothers then that is a hell of a lot of women you are not supporting.

TheCrackFox Wed 28-Nov-12 10:54:52

Dunno but she sounds like a cock.

RoxyRobin Wed 28-Nov-12 10:56:10

Rosie Boycott, who describes herself as a life-long feminist, has been putting the case against maternity rights for several years now.

She said in the Guardian: 'While parental rights are a wonderful thing in theory, beloved by governments eager to court the "family-friendly" vote, they are an immense burden on the small businesses who are expected to pick up the tab.'

Her change of heart might have something to do with the fact that she took up running a small business herself!

MissCellania Wed 28-Nov-12 10:59:53

No, you can't. How can you be a feminist while telling women they have to choose between children and work, because that is essentially what no maternity leave means?

At a fundamental level, feminism is defined as the desire for equal rights to men. Do men have to choose between work and a family? There is your answer then.

BaresarkBunny Wed 28-Nov-12 11:11:40

When she has been challenged about her view in the past she has stated that to be a feminist does not mean you bow down to the conceived myth that mothers are goddesses and 'breeding' is a choice for women.

It is worrying that someone who counts themselves as a feminist wants to marginalize a large segment of women.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 28-Nov-12 11:19:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

poorbuthappy Wed 28-Nov-12 11:23:45

I do get annoyed by this.
Companies do not pay maternity/paternity leave. It is all claimed back from government. If a small company chooses to pay more then that has bugger all to do with anyone apart from that small company.

And if a small company will stop working economically because 1 person takes off a period of time with usually approx 6 months notice, then that company could probably be run better.

OneMoreChap Wed 28-Nov-12 12:33:26

Exactly! How can it be tolerable that someone declares themselves a feminist unless they tick certain boxes accepted withing the orthodoxy.

[As an aside, maternity leave (which I support) is now - hopefully -- going to be used as a leaver to encourage men to take some more responsibility for their families - as in parental leave(which I support, too)]

notcitrus Wed 28-Nov-12 13:35:37

While the woman sounds like a total twit, I hate the way people shut down debate by telling women they can't be feminists, and I think it is much more useful to have an inclusive definition of feminism, alone the lines of 'feminism is the astonishing notion that women are people' or 'all I know is people call me a feminist whenever I distinguish myself from a doormat' - as soon as you start restricting further than that, conversations get derailed by arguments as to whether someone is a feminist, rather than whether their ideas have any merit.

I prefer asking further questions like "how do you reconcile that with both men and women having equal rights to work and raise families', or why should mothers be any more of a 'drain' than fathers. Many young or inexperienced or thoughtless people will change their minds and become more constructive feminists, whereas telling them they cant be feminists is more likely to alienate them from feminism forever.

KRITIQ Wed 28-Nov-12 13:36:33

I personally don't think you can, for most of the same reasons cited above.

I've been in a situation where 6 of a team of 25 have been on maternity leave at the same time. Financially, it was no biggie because as poorbut says, it can be claimed back from the Government although some employers tend to leave this fact out when bleating about the cost of maternity leave. Yes, it meant shifting things around, but in any business, there are things that happen that mean you have to do that - people resigning, people falling ill, having to find new premises, stuff like this. It's something you build into your planning and if you don't, well, that's kind of hard cheese.

If we were in a situation where there was no discrimination against women related to pregnancy, being parents or their roles as carers (of children or others,) and there was adequate provision for maternity leave and care leave (for parents or carers of either sex,) then there wouldn't be a need perhaps for support for something "additional" for pregnant women or mothers. But, we are a way, way long way off from that.

So, I think I'll stick to the original answer of, "no."

msrisotto Wed 28-Nov-12 14:05:18

She sounds like a right dick head.

chubbleigh Wed 28-Nov-12 14:25:50

Not feminist, not close, more in the vein of Maggie Thatcher where you basically deny your biology, that is what this sounds like to me.

My place of work is an absolute baby factory due gender/age demography. It is just accepted and plans are made and changed accordingly. The type of thinking poster refers to I find so fundamentally negative, nothing good can flow from it, before you even get into feminist arguments.

Further, by the rationale of it being a burden on small business and generally inconvenience all round, you had better not get sick either.

mountaineeress Wed 28-Nov-12 14:28:51

I guess if you belong to the #childfree movement and you genuinely think that we should all stop reproducing then you could be a feminist who believes we're all equal as nobody is having babies and you could believe maternity leave should be stopped... but that doesn't say what happens to a woman who becomes pregnant by mistake, or a man who fathers a child by mistake... are they both thrown out of their jobs? (doubt it somehow).

summerflower Wed 28-Nov-12 14:48:59

As a feminist, I think the argument against maternity leave would be that it creates an expectation that women would be absent from the workplace in a way which men would not be, therefore, it creates discrimination against women. However, I think there is a more general antipathy in this person’s comments which are anti-mother. Thus, the feminist argument may be to see women as people and not primarily as mothers, given that it is women’s biological function as mothers which is at the root of most discrimination, but also that it kind of assumes women will be mothers (itself oppressive if you don't want children)

I have heard feminists make that argument before and to me, it seems an odd argument. I don’t see the purpose of feminism as to erase all difference between men and women; plus, there is ample evidence to suggest that even childless women are discriminated against.

That apart, there are health and welfare reasons, for both mother and child, why at least a minimum period of paid maternity leave is necessary. We surely don’t want to go back to the days when women worked up to their confinement and then went straight back out to work as soon as they could stand. That’s not equality, that’s just brutal.

I also question whether equality is really adopting a traditionally male way of working (i.e. which does not need to take account of things like childbirth as men don’t do that), or whether it is more to the point to adopt a more flexible pattern for both sexes (i.e. that both adapt working patterns to new arrivals in the family and that it is acceptable for both sexes to do this).

OneMoreChap Wed 28-Nov-12 14:54:18


whether it is more to the point to adopt a more flexible pattern for both sexes (i.e. that both adapt working patterns to new arrivals in the family and that it is acceptable for both sexes to do this).

Would that this happens soon!

BaresarkBunny Wed 28-Nov-12 14:58:42

Personally I find her a complete twat and bully. As she so nicely puts it breeding is optional and other people shouldn't pay or parents should not benefit for what is essentially a contraception failure (her words).

I find her attitude at odds with feminism but she is adamant that these beliefs are what makes a true feminist.

HalloweenNameChange Wed 28-Nov-12 16:46:02

I can see an argument against maternity leave although I would disagree with it.
awaits xenia

there is no feminist argument against women breast feeding in public though. You can't. If you are going to say breasts need to be hidden from view you are taking the view that they are there for sexual use. Unless she also think men should put their nipples away?

HalloweenNameChange Wed 28-Nov-12 16:47:54

I have seen some really hateful child free sites though.. They all seem very anti women and the language they use is misogynistic and disgusting. So you don't want kids.. don't have them. Don't devote your life to abusing those that do or calling babies "cunt larvae" sad

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 28-Nov-12 22:02:43

Well it isnt very practical, given many workplaces give 4-5 weeks holiday and don't let you carry forward more than a week,

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 28-Nov-12 22:05:31

...Plus a significant proportion of pregnancies are unplanned - what if you'd already used your holiday allowance for the year?

Also, all the above arguments, from a political perspective.

FastidiaBlueberry Wed 28-Nov-12 22:54:41

Most childfree sites are full of obsessively child-hating women who have internalised misogyny and they call it feminism.

They 're just fuckwits tbh.

TessOfTheBaublevilles Thu 29-Nov-12 14:21:31

Yes breeding is optional.

It's a shame her parents opted to do it.

Sorry, I know that is an awful thing to say, but women like her really piss me off.

I have know several women who are child free by choice, but none of them are like that, they realise that women who have children need time off to do so. They know that it's important to keep the population going.

HazleNutt Thu 29-Nov-12 15:30:05

I do feel that maternity law is not a great idea from the feiminst perspective. But I don't think it should be abolished - it should simply be parental leave that can be used by either parent. As currently employers view hiring women as more risky, as they can at some point take the leave - would be hemful for women on the job market if employers had similar chances with male employees taking the time off.

As for the original question, no I don't think a person so negative about all mothers can at the same time claim to support womens rights.

BaresarkBunny Thu 29-Nov-12 18:01:54

I know I shouldn't but I can't help myself from reading the #. The hatred that is spewed is frightening luckily I don't know anyone like that in rl. (I hope!)

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