“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, never let you forget you’re a man.” Some of us remember the excited heroine of the Enjoli perfume ad singing her heart out in the 1970s, while cooking dinner after a day in a Fortune 500 company, sporting lingerie underneath her power suit.
Those were the days when feminists talked about equal pay for equal work, and ability of women to stand equally next to men, making a valuable contribution to any workplace on the strength of their ideas, fueled by the prowess of their intellects.
But no more. Suddenly, in a centuries-old flashback, a renewed argument is being made that women need “menstrual leave” so their frail selves can suffer at home during the red blight that ruins their cognitive abilities monthly as they search their purses for product.
If any man suggested this, he would be run out of office, town, or business for daring to insinuate that any such weakness a.) exists at all, b.) Should be discussed, or c.) diminishes a woman’s ability to function.
After all, aren’t feminists on the front lines in arguing women should be on the front lines — of the military, or in fire stations, or in police uniforms, with real weapons and lives on the line. Aren’t these same feminists swooning at the prospect of Hillary Clinton with her finger on the bomb (assuming that she is more wide awake when that 3 a.m. call comes than she was when it came from Benghazi.)
This kind of proposed leave is presumed to be an expression of fairness (which is almost always defined by someone who wants something.)
Author Alice J. Dan writes that Japan has had menstrual leave since the days of World War II as “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.”
Because nothing says “I’m a great worker” like sharing cycle information with my co-workers.
The Huffington Post jumped on board with the “fairness” of extra days off for this recurring event, comparing it to men needing time to recover from getting kicked in the testicles. Talk about comparing apples and oranges – a reoccurring event in healthy women or an accident.
The menstrual leave campaign is even more ironic when you consider that Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, and Mika Brzezinski, of MSNBC “Morning Joe” fame, have quite a little cottage industry going lecturing other women to “know their value” as though as a class, women were too weak-willed to fight for themselves before they arrived on the scene.
The New York Times, writing on one such preening event, noted the hype surrounding Hillary Clinton’s possible entrance into the presidential race:
“This is the tsunami effect of Hillary,” said Glynnis MacNicol, a journalist and co-founder of TheList, a women’s networking group. Her co-founder, Rachel Sklar, added: “There is such a hunger on the part of smart, accomplished women to be taken seriously. It’s refreshing to see conferences and the zeitgeist reflect that.”
Nothing says “take me seriously” like a conversation about menstrual leave.
On this point, you really can’t have your cake and eat it too. (Another truism from the sugar police.) You can’t argue that women can go toe to toe with any man in the work place and insist that a natural physical event causes such frailty that special treatment is needed. This estrogen-as-public-policy proposal undermines women everywhere.
The attractive idea of the first woman president assumes several things, among them that the person is qualified, healthy enough for the job, with strength of character and conviction and actual ideas for leading the nation.
Crying into the chardonnay about the lack of menstrual leave undercuts any such possibility, as it undermines hard-working women everywhere who prove that they are equally valuable to any workplace through the quality of their contributions.
Kristi S. Hamrick is a media consultant and working mother.