QuoteReplyTopic: do you want paid menstrual leave?? Posted: May 16 2014 at 5:36pm
Should Paid 'Menstrual Leave' Be a Thing?
Some countries mandate a legal right to leave for women during their periods. Is that reverse sexism or the right thing to do?
For most American women beyond the age of high school gym class, “I’ve got my period” isn’t considered much of an excuse for anything. We’re meant to pop an Advil and get on with things, Red Devil be damned. But in several, mostly East Asian, countries, so-called “menstrual leave” is a legally enshrined right for female workers.
However, as these countries attempt to move toward greater gender equality in the workplace, menstrual leave has come under debate. Do these policies simply further the notion that women are weak, hormonally-addled creatures controlled by their uteri? Or do they encourage more equality by accommodating female workers’ biological demands, much as maternity leave does?
The issue turns out to be surprisingly complicated, with complex historical roots and supporters on both sides of the liberal-conservative divide.
Japan has had menstrual leave since just after World War II. According to the 1947 Labor Standards Law, any women suffering from painful periods or whose job might exacerbate period pain are allowed seirikyuuka (literally “physiological leave”). At the time the law was written, women were entering the workforce in record numbers, and workplaces like factories, mines and bus stations had little by way of sanitary facilities.
The new law, writes researcher Alice J. Dan, was “a symbol for women’s emancipation. It represented their ability to speak openly about their bodies, and to gain social recognition for their role as workers.”
The number of women actually taking their menstrual leave has plummeted over the latter half of the 20th century, but female workers have been reluctant to give it up entirely.
Taiwan’s current menstrual leave legislation is much newer. The 2013amendment to the country’s Act of Gender Equality in Employment guarantees female workers three days of menstrual leave a year, in addition to the 30 days of half-paid sick leave allotted to all workers. The act originally folded menstrual leave into the regular 30 days of sick leave, prompting a gender-diverse coalition of politicians to claim this was a violation of women’s basic rights. (Imagine, say, Barbara Boxer and Mitch McConnell banding together to support a woman’s right to period days.)
South Korean workers were granted menstrual leave in 2001, though an experiment in extending the policy to female university students was deemed a failure (“faculty members decided that the policy was being abused as an excuse for absence”). The policy has lately come under fire from Korean “men’s rights activists,” who, despite Korea’s heavily male-dominated work culture, see it as a form of reverse discrimination.
These Asian menstrual leave policies appear to be based on the scientifically dubious notion that women who don’t rest during their menses will have difficulty in childbirth later. Some say the laws are therefore more about treating women as future baby-vessels than valued employees.
During that period (of menstruation), most women experience psychological and physiological discomfort. The pain for the fair sex is often so intense that it is necessary to call an ambulance … Strong pain induces heightened fatigue, reduces memory and work-competence and leads to colorful expressions of emotional discomfort.
Unsurprisingly, the bill was condemned by Russian feminists and, politically speaking, went nowhere.
But even in countries with well-intentioned menstrual leave policies, many women don’t feel comfortable taking it. They’re understandably embarrassed to tell their superiors they have their period, and they worry they’ll be viewed as weak for taking time off.
The fact is, menstruation is not debilitating for most women. But for up to 20 percent of women, period pain interferes with daily activities just as surely as a nasty cold or flu. Ample paid sick leave would seem to take care of the problem just as well without forcing women to share their lunar cycles with their bosses. It’s no coincidence that several of the countries with menstrual leave also have lackluster sick leave policies—neither Japan nor Korea mandate paid sick leave for non-serious illness.
But then again, neither does the United States. Perhaps we should start agitating for the Boxer-McConnell American Menstrual Leave Act after all?
About 2 days a month would work. I wouldn't always need it each month but those days where I want to stab someone repeatedly with a spoon for looking at me wrong or cry over the smallest thing all within a few minutes...I need some personal time.
And for many women, they aren't completely incapacitated by their period, but would certainly benefit from some flexibility like the ability to work from home or easily adjust their hours in the office.
This is ridiculous. Just reinforces the idea that women aren't worth shyt on their periods. I had a guy that refused to argue with me because I was on my period. As if because of that I couldn't be rational and was automatically tripping.
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