Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Parental Leave

The hypocrisy angers me. In the upcoming election, the term “family values” will undoubtedly be again used by conservative candidates to denote an anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-sex education agenda. While conservative candidates use rhetoric aimed at convincing the American public that they are somehow made pro-family by efforts to limit family planning options, they do little to help make it easy or appealing for women to actually become mothers.

The difference between the United States and most European countries when it comes to maternity and paternity leave makes my stomach sink. Quite frankly, I was shocked when I discovered the difference between the United States and the rest of the Americas in paid time given to working parents. Two friends of mine, one a scientist from Mexico and the other a business woman from Germany, recently pointed out that many expatriates try to avoid giving birth while in the United States, for economic reasons. Their own countries, for example, put mine to shame when leave time given to families is compared. Mexico offers 12 weeks of maternity leave at full pay while Germany offers 14 weeks at full pay and three years of parental leave so that mothers and fathers alike can take time with their children and return to their jobs.

If we are to be a nation that values families, it is time that we question politicians who speak of family values about their views on paid parental leave. Businesses need to guarantee that women will be allowed to be mothers as well as workers, and that men can choose to be good fathers. It is time to bring up some legislation that would bring us into line with the rest of the west.


Casmall said...

It seems clear to me that pro-family retoric is just code for anti-gay bigotry.
The thing that really makes me wonder is that, dispite the appeal of this possition to right wingers, there is very little expected from the conservative legislators that get elected by saying these things.
In this way you're right. For a pro-family politico to make their constituents happy, they don't need to inact law that helps families, they just need to oppose "the gay agenda".

Mächtige Maus said...

I for one am pleased that the conservative legislators are concerned about "the gay agenda". After all, we are planning to take over the world.

All kidding aside, however, it does indeed sadden me as well to see the glaring differences between our society and many others, some of which a few high ranking politicians might consider beneath us. It amazes me how this country, founded upon the notion of personal freedom, has failed to progress in that department when other countries have. In fact, considering the fact that many conservative legislators along with the constituents they represent take a "you can have all of the personal freedom you want so long as it jives with what I believe" stance, it seems that it is not a simple lack of progress. It appears to me as though conservatism (especially religious…I do know some perfectly acceptable albeit misguided conservatives) is bringing about a certain amount of regression. In some aspects, the current conservative political movement harkens back to other times in American history when “the black agenda” and “the women’s agenda” were the alleged culprits for the country’s moral decline.

La Pobre Habladora said...

It confuses me that whenever a group of oppressed people gains some freedom, those already free feel as though they've lost something. How do you convince people that allowing everyone the right to wed who they choose in no way diminishes anyone's right to do so? Such a common reaction against minorities suggests that we value our ability to deny others happiness and comfort almost as much as we value the obtaining of these things for ourselves.

On a side note, another Science article suggests that this type of spitefulness, denying another access to something they want just for the joy of doing so, might be uniquely human.