A Russian lawmaker is advocating that women get an extra two days off each month during their period. While some of his arguments (that women are in so much pain during their period that they need to call an ambulance) are a little absurd, overall, this seems like kind of an awesome idea to me. As someone who’s had those days where you wake up tired and bloated, where the Advil you took for your cramps just doesn’t seem to be kicking in, and the idea of facing a day at work is just overwhelming, I’d like the option to just not have to go, consequence-free. If I had a Congressperson, I’d probably be writing to them to suggest that we legislate for this in the U.S.
Other people are taking issue with this idea, saying it implies women are less capable, but I don’t think this is true. Women are certainly equal to men, but there are biological realities that mean we don’t have the same experiences. The fact of the matter is that a few days out of the month, I am going to be experiencing some discomfort that simply doesn’t affect my male coworkers. I don’t think offering me a chance to stay home is insulting, I think it’s respecting that experience. I know people are going to tell me that menstruation is a joy and I should be celebrating this wonderful aspect of the feminine experience, but honestly, I really fail to see the fun in bleeding and being in mild pain a few days a month. It’s not that I can’t perform my job under those conditions, but I wouldn’t hate it if I didn’t have to.
People also see this as a move by conservative politicians to remind everyone that women are the supposedly weaker sex. I can’t speak to the motivation of Russian politicians, but I can argue the opposite side of this. Maybe the reason that we don’t already have extra sick days is that male politicians have always been the ones in power. Sick leave policies were written with men’s needs in mind and didn’t bother to take into account that women might need something a little different. If the tables were suddenly turned and men were the ones who had to deal with having their period, I can’t help but think not only would they get more sick days, they’d also find a way to get health insurance to cover the cost of tampons.
I can also see the argument that women getting extra sick days might seem unfair to men. If that’s the case, let’s consider this extra leave a celebration of fertility. Guys can also accrue the hours, to be applied toward their paternity leave should they have a child. Also, I don’t think these extra days off should be mandatory; I just want them to be available. If women are insulted by the idea that they might want to take time off, they can make up the extra hours another time, or just decline the option to use them.
What do you think? Is paid sick leave for your period something we should have started asking for years ago, or does it totally undermine women’s equality? Would you use the extra days if your company offered them?
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