Donna. on ''Parental Leave''

From:    Donna.
To:      All                                    Msg #29, 03:09pm Oct-25-90
Subject: Re: Parental Leave

The subject of maternity leave always starts me on one of my rants, because
it points strongly to discrimination against women AND it's a subject that
leaves itself wide open for MISinformation being passed around.

Maternity leave is often considered to be a "women's" issue.  It's true
that only women (currently) require time off to give birth.  It's also true
that maternity leave problems have often been associated with
discrimination against women -- the single biggest reason most women were
fired when they became pregnant was that most women weren't allowed to make
use of companies' health insurance benefits.

Indeed, the only reason government stepped in to require that maternity
leave be considered *at* *least* at the level of medical disability is that
maternity leave, even that taken by women who *had* insurance, was often
used as an excuse to fire women.  Even now, of course, most lower-paid
employees do not have "medical disability" benefits, and most lower-paid
employees are women, so women are still bearing the brunt of it.

I submit, however, that the subject of maternity leave is less about
"women's rights" than it is about "businesses vs. families".  For most of
this century, Corporate America has convinced its male employees that being
a good employee -- and stepping up the corporate ladder -- is more
important than being a husband and a father.  This has encouraged an awful
lot of families to have no husband/father figure.  What happened?  The men
got angry with the WOMEN for having more time with the kids!  Some of them
are still angry.  Now, Corporate America is using the same "logic" to keep
women from advancing as quickly as possible.  It seems to think that if it
can encourage the women to stay with the kids, then IT can keep the men "in
line".  Net effect: business gets all the benefits, and men and women are
beating each other up, each side thinking that it's the other side's fault!

Things have finally gotten so bad that some organizations have tried to
pressure Congress into stepping in, by mandating that businesses offer
parental leave.  Those of us who were watching, however, saw that
legislation go down the drain.  (Note: that bill was a general-family bill,
not just about parental leave; it would have given employees the
opportunity to be there for spouses, parents, sisters, brothers, cousins,
grandparents, etc., in addition to being there for the children.)

Frankly, I really don't like the idea of the government stepping in for us
on this issue.  I think it's time that women's groups and men's groups
stopped hawking at each other long enough to work together -- against
Corporate America.  Convince our businesses that EMPLOYEES HAVE FAMILIES.
Even unmarried employees have families; non-parents have families, too.
Our businesses need to realize that denying an employee (*any* employee)
the right to mold a work schedule with a family schedule is nothing short
of slavery.  Convince our businesses that we won't stand for being slaves.

Let's hear it out there -- what are businesses in your area doing to
encourage employees to be PEOPLE WITH FAMILIES?  How many businesses
already have parental leave policies?  How many businesses include adoptive
and foster families in their leave policies?  Most importantly, what can WE
do to convince businesses to make this change, without having to involve
the government?

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