As I’m sure you know Yahoo recently hired Marissa Mayer as their new CEO. Ms. Mayer also happens to be pregnant. Which is wonderful personal news for her and her family. Twitter lit up with the announcement and the New York Times ran a profile: Maternity Leave? It’s more like a Pause.
Oh, how the New York Times is turning into the Patriarchy Times.
But back to Mayer. She told Fortune magazine that her maternity leave would be “a few weeks long, and I’ll work throughout it.” Of course this was to reassure stock holders, but the coverage of this quote further continues the “have it all” monopoly on women’s lives.
However, one woman’s maternity leave or lack thereof is not indicative of all women. And it shouldn’t be.
My issue is not with Ms. Mayer or her maternity leave, but the ravenous coverage of HER maternity leave throughout traditional print and pretty much all over the place. The bigger question is this: Why does any woman have to choose between her child and her income.
It’s a false choice. A non-choice. No choice at all.
The real discussion is not about one woman and her child or even one company (regardless of how big that company may or may not be), but why “successful” women are supposed to act like men even when they are, in fact, pregnant.
That’s what’s missing here. Followed up with a frank discussion about inequality in America: the lack of paid maternity leave, family leave, paternity leave, quality and affordable child care. Then quickly followed by the very real corporate mentality that good workers work 80 hours a week and have a wife.
If you’re a woman, your wife is your “help.”
That’s not a choice, it’s the same way it’s always been except you’re paying your “wife.” She just used to do that stuff for free. Oh and she’s probably brown. Oops, that’s not new either.
When the media holds up one woman as an example and then goes out and finds other women to back up their “see, she didn’t need maternity leave, look at all of these superhuman women doing it all,” you should be immediately suspect. What’s their agenda?
That the U.S. doesn’t need paid leave whatsoever. That corporate culture doesn’t need reform and that women work better pretending to be men with a wife than women with family obligations. Men, obviously, have those too but good luck being one and saying you are.
And as this example shows, good luck being a woman and saying you have a family.