Sunday, February 13, 2005

Menstrual Leave

An Australian union is trying to get Toyota to give its female workers "menstrual leave"--twelve paid days of it a year.

Two points:

1.) If your periods are giving you so much pain you have to call in sick, you have a medical problem and need to see a doctor. And if you do not in fact have a medical problem and you are claiming you can't work through a little discomfort, then you are, in fact, a wuss and a whiner.

2.) WTF is going on? We've only just had an MIT professor have a highly publicized attack of the vapors when Harvard president Larry Summers suggested that maybe--just maybe--innate differences in the sexes may explain why there are fewer women at the top levels of science. Nancy Hopkins could hardly bear what she was hearing and had to leave lest she faint, and since then she has had to be apologized to again and again; whether Mr. Summers was required to bolster his apologies with flowers and chocolates remains unclear. What is clear is that here we have an MIT professor letting the world know that women (or one, at least) are too delicate to withstand an open airing of ideas and that in Australia we have another group saying women can't work while they're having their periods. What's next? Segregating men and women in the workplace so that no woman ever need be offended by an overlong glance in her direction by a man? What about paid hot flash leave? PMS leave? Or "my boss likes the other employees better than me and that makes me feel undervalued and ugly" leave? Give me a break.

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