Here’s the HuffPostLive segment.
Here’s the idiotic Breitbart article.
And here’s the video (close-enough transcript follows):
The other day, I was invited onto HuffPost Live to talk about lady stuff, like Jill Abramson being let go from the New York Times, the reasons why women don’t go to the doctor often enough, and oh yeah whether we should all take a week off every month to bleed out of our vaginas in the privacy of our own homes while eating ice cream out of the carton and binge-watching Netflix.
Whether or not women should get paid time off for menstruation is apparently one of the most important questions of our time, judging by how many men have contacted me since our discussion to tell me what a giant bitch I am.
In the HuffPost chat, I pointed out that I objected to the entire premise of the question, “Should women get menstrual leave” – the question is phrased in a way to almost demand a knee-jerk “no” response, because it implies that this would be a special benefit conferred upon a small minority.
So instead I rephrase the question: Should people be allowed a sick day when they are feeling unwell enough to not be able to do their jobs? I say yes. That goes for anyone who has debilitating bleeding or cramping. If a man went to his boss and said “I’m bleeding so much that I have to change these bandages every hour or two, I have constant diarrhea, and cramping so bad that I can’t get out of the fetal position,” I would argue that that guy should go home and feel better.
So should a woman, even though the same conditions are being caused by her uterus instead of a car accident or whatever. Most women don’t have periods that interfere with their day-to-day lives on that scale, but some do.
In other words, no, we shouldn’t have a special “menstrual sick leave.” Instead, the US should join with dozens of other developed countries in providing workers with paid time off as they need it. In fact, research shows that both workers and companies benefit from allowing unlimited sick leave.
Employees with unlimited sick leave take fewer days off than those with restricted sick leave. Plus, they’re happier and more productive, which gives further benefits to their employer. Plus, it’s better for society as a whole, because workers who stay home when they’re sick are less likely to contribute to the spread of infectious diseases. When outlets like Breitbart misrepresent my argument and suggest that employers would be worse off if they gave out unlimited sick leave to their workers, remember all the studies that show that employers who offer paid sick days have lower job turnover rates, lower recruitment and training costs, lower unnecessary absenteeism, and higher productivity.
As I argued on HuffPost Live, this isn’t just a feminist issue – it’s an intersectional issue that’s more about workers’ rights than anything else. These causes have always been linked together throughout history and they continue to be linked together today. For the record, I also support paid family time off, meaning that new fathers can stay at home to take care of their kids, and both men and women can take time off to care for adults who need their help. These are relatively simple measures we can take that will increase the equality of men and women in the workplace and at home, and improve society as a whole.
Don’t be fooled by the ignorant, soundbite-focused press intent on selling the idea of ridiculous, out of control feminists attempting to force employers into giving women a week off every month. If you see that popping up in social media, do your best to redirect the conversation where it needs to be: on the science, and on the actual arguments being made by people like me who are arguing for better working conditions for everyone.