Thursday, October 9, 2008

Paid maternity leave - insights from Down Under

By Chloe Angyal

Emma Tom, of The Australian, on why paid maternity leave is a good idea:
Critics of paid maternity leave have two main arguments. The first concerns the historical stoicism of mothers. "Your mum and mum's mum did OK without paid maternity leave," they say. "Why should you be any different?"

This is a fantastically slapstick course of reasoning because it rests entirely on the assumption that something is OK because it happened before. Here are a few other things that have happened before:
* Up to one-third of women dying during childbirth (Europe and North America in the 1800s).
* Attempts to ban labour pain analgesics because they were regarded as decoys of Satan (Europe in the 19th century).
* The expectation that little women greet their husbands in a state of perfectly ironed obedience before arranging pillows, removing shoes and not speaking unless spoken to (the good wife guide in the May 1955 edition of Housekeeping Monthly).

Read the rest here.


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