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Women’s issues are always on my mind, and I am always eager to hear what other feminists (and opposers) have to say. My ears perked up a couple weeks ago when a story came on NPR about Marissa Mayer’s second maternity leave.
On a professional note, she did double the amount of paid maternity leave for Yahoo employees, yet she did away with telecommuting. She also built a nursery next to her office to use with her four month-old son. Yes, she is a CEO of a very large company and arguably works more hours than the traditional full-time employee. But does her clout and wealth allow her certain benefits not afforded to other working moms? Yes. Does taking only a few weeks of maternity leave and working throughout set presidence for other women taking maternity leave? Unfortunately, yes.
While any woman should be able to do what is best for her personal situation, in this country, society groups women together when considering what women should do. It is as if we are incapable of making decisions for ourselves. We are judged for taking time off. We are judged for asking for flexible work schedules. We are judged for bringing our children to conferences or work. We are judged when our children get sick. We are judged constantly, regardless of what the laws state.
I loathe the whole lean in crap circulating right now. As if women cannot be multiple identities at once. We can work and be mothers if that is what we want to do. Marissa Mayer, as well as other women, should not be admonished by the public for only taking a few weeks of maternity leave. We, however, should recognize as a society our role in women’s issues, including paid maternity leave and support of working mothers.
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Could inviting women to fight for equality harm equality? I think so. Especially if it suggests women fight for their rights to be able to go topless by going topless.
I know the ‘Free the Nipple’ campaign is about the principle of owning our bodies; I, however, am with Alyssa Milano. There are other women’s issues we need to tackle first: breastfeeding rights, maternity leave, sexual assault, wage equality, and reinforced gender stereotypes to name a few.
From the wikipedia page on the ‘Free the Nipple’ campaign:
Conversely, most states in the US note either explicitly or implicitly that any kind of exposure of the female areola is an act of indecent exposure and therefore a criminal offense. Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington are the only states whose laws expressly differentiate breast-feeding mothers from performances of “public lewdness.”
Only about 1/6 of states in the U.S. even differentiate between breastfeeding and other displays of the breasts. Online services frequently delete pictures and videos of women breastfeeding, yet allow other graphic, arguably inappropriate images and videos.
Honestly, friends, we have some work to do and I’m not sure how running around topless will help.
Lady Gaga reacts to sexual assault on college campuses. It’s an epidemic that we’re ignoring. It’s savage. Diminishing. Accepted. Haunting. Common. Isolating.
One in 5 female and 1 in sixteen male college students will be sexually assaulted this year. Think about this: smaller colleges have class sizes of about 15 students. So that means in each classroom you walk past on campus, at least 3 students in that room will be sexually assaulted this year.
Eight out of 10 people know their assaulter. I did.
Sexual assault is something that will stay with you always. Over a decade later, I can still close my eyes and remember every detail.
Sixty-three percent of sexual assault crimes are not reported to the police.
No one asks to be sexually assaulted. Ever.
Help someone you know break the silence. Make sure you listen.
For more information and resources:
RAINN Rape, Abuse & Insest National Network
Sept 21 Washington Post article, “What a massive sexual assault survey found at 27 top U.S. universities”
What Senator McCaskill and others are doing with the Campus Accountability and Safety Act