*Every once in a while something completely asinine comes to my attention. Last week Meghann Foye allowed her jealousy and selfishness to shine through and suggested that she deserves maternity leave even without having any children.
Foye wrote an article in the New York Post explicitly explaining that she gets jealous of co-workers that are able to be celebrated, get showered with gifts, and take paid vacation because of the status of their wombs. Foye believes that she should be entitled to similar treatment even without the baby.
Where to start?
The basic premise of Foye’s position is that she deserves everything that other people receive. That isn’t true. Some people get more because they earned more. Some people(in school) get special considerations because it allows them to display expertise they couldn’t have shown otherwise. What Foye fails to realize is that equal considerations is not the same as equal treatment.
Before this article I would have thought that most well adjusted adults would have been able to recognize their desire for something like “meternity” leave as selfish and would have been able to comprehend why their selfish desires should not be catered to. Foye made me have to rethink my position. I’m not sure she recognizes her selfishness in this matter. But to be clear it is extremely self centered to conclude that because co-workers are home with their children, that she should be off drinking wine somewhere.
There is also a hint of sexism in Foye’s stance as well. She argued that all women deserve “meternity” leave but that no men do and cites the idea that men are better at self-advocacy as the reason for this difference in how she believes men and women should be treated. Hogwash. Men face pressures at work just as women do. If non-parents are going on “meternity” leave, men being better at speaking up is not reason enough to deny them the extra time off.
Foye’s statement is also misogynist. For centuries the ideal was women raising their families in the home and women were not supposed to work in public spaces. For decades women who did work in public spaces were expected to stop working forever and focus on their family when they got married or pregnant. The existence of maternity leave allows women to have children and resume working; maternity leave prevents women from having to choose either a career or a family. By attacking maternity leave Foye is implicitly attacking the idea that women should be able to have careers while raising families.
Foye also misunderstands what maternity leave is. She seems to believe it is a vacation for new mothers. On a very basic level maternity leave is time away from work which theoretically could be used to take a trip on a Caribbean cruise. In practice however new mothers are learning their babies’ different cries, waking up every few hours to feed the baby and change diapers, and generally operating on high levels of stress. For Foye to assert that she should be able to go on vacation illustrates her ignorance about the amount of work a new baby entails.
That employers allow maternity leave makes sense for them economically because they wouldn’t want to lose a valued and valuable employee because of family planning. They would want that person to come back to work instead of looking for a (potentially less capable) replacement. That the government would mandate maternity leave makes sense socially because the government has a vested interest in making sure that the next generation of citizens are nurtured. Neither of these reasons should not be a personal affront to Foye but somehow that is how she takes it.
Should Foye be allowed time off? Of course. Should she be able to throw herself a party? Definitely. Can she ask for gifts from co-workers? Absolutely. But she shouldn’t equate her selfishness with having a baby. In fact her selfishness is evidence of her being a baby.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @historictrev.