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Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Tells Off Maternity Leave Critics

Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Tells Off Maternity Leave Critics

 

Steve Hilton, the strategy director for British Prime Minister David Cameron, has reportedly suggested abolishing maternity leave to help stimulate the country’s sluggish economy, says the Telegraph. Currently British women can taken a year-long maternity leave which, writing on this side of the Atlantic, sounds quite good to me. The US is the only industrialized nation that does not mandate paid maternity leave as Fox News’ “America Live” anchor Megyn Kelly recently pointed out. Kelly returned to work on Monday after the birth of her daughter, Yardley Evans, on April 14, and was promptly informed by talk-radio host Mike Gallagher that maternity leave is a “racket.”

Some people really do not get it.

Here’s what Gallagher said, according to the Los Angeles Times:

“Megyn’s still on maternity leave, right? Boy … what a racket that is,” Gallagher had told Fox’s Chris Wallace in May. “I mean, men don’t get to bond. … How much time does she get off?”

Three months, Wallace said , provoking the reply, “It’s unbelievable … do you think you’d get three months off? How much time did you get off when your kids where born?”

Wallace apparently had found a week off to be more than enough new-dad bonding time — while Gallagher apparently hoped the new mom would be so cut off from co-workers and the Internet that she’d never hear a peep about his blurt.

It’s always amazing to hear people/men talk about maternity leave as “time off.” I think I can accurately state that, after one gives birth, one pretty much says farewell to “time off.” Motherhood is a full-time job that, unlike the average full-time job, has a 24/7 commitment (and, indeed, not the greatest salary from a financial perspective. It is certainly an experience that has been life-defining for me). I don’t know the details of Wallace’s family life, but perhaps he only needed a week off for “new-dad bonding” because someone else (his wife) was taking care of their newborn child.

Kelly herself told Gallagher that “the United States is in the dark ages when it comes to maternity leave.” Think Progress cites figures from the Project on Global Working Families which shows how really, really, really far behind the rest of the world the US is about maternity leave:

Out of 173 countries studied, 169 countries offer guaranteed leave with income to women in connection with childbirth; 98 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks paid leave. Although in a number of countries many women work in the informal sector, where these government guarantees do not always apply, the fact remains that the U.S. guarantees no paid leave for mothers in any segment of the work force, leaving it in the company of only 3 other nations: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.

Those 52 weeks that a woman qualifies for in the UK are actually a minimum with “most employers offering more generous arrangements.”

An Australian study even points out that maternity not only pays for itself, it boosts the economy.

Strategy director Hilton’s suggestion to just do away with maternity leave is unlikely to go beyond reports in the media and general expressions of disgust from many. Cameron, says the Telegraph, has himself been a supporter of maternity leave and Hilton is known for coming up with “seemingly crazy ideas in an attempt to spark creative debate.” But the fact that Hilton even thinks he could suggest that maternity leave be eliminated — and that Wallace could refer to it as a “racket” — shows that, even in a country with more “family-friendly” policies, women and men (who can now share maternity leave in the UK) have to stand up for maternity leave and paternity leave too.

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52 comments

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10:35PM PST on Jan 7, 2012

Socialist, secret Muslim.... can you think of any other hot button, negative words to throw at her?

The question of "if men could get pregnant" is largely moot because anthropologist Marvin Harris pointed out that military and political power came out of the weapons men carried for hunting and warfare (those weapons, spears, arrows, swords) requiring greater muscle mass to wield them. Women would be at a disadvantage with sword or spear with less muscle mass in combat with men, besides, they were stuck at home nursing the kids they bore. So men had the weapons and the power, and NEVER GAVE THEM UP.

It wasn't until maybe 50 years ago that female Viet Cong snipers were equal to male VC snipers, with rifles. But the invention of gunpowder was millennia away....

Someone else, a woman, said this, but it should be a required class what you give up having kids. An exceptional amount of freedom, time, energy, and money, plus the freedom to work unencumbered. As free agents employers will attempt to reward the childless at the expense of parents, who need such things as sick leave for their sick kids when they can't go to day care. Then the class should cover contraceptive techniques.






11:48AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

Well said, Megyn.

11:16PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Swaziland. Right. Cantor & Cronies should jump for joy. The Disunited States of America — grow up and join the 21st century. Pay more taxes, especially you fat cats! Come to think of it, who would want a MCP like Gallagher taking paternity leave? Brrrrr.

7:42AM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Rose L. your husband is a tool. He obviously doesn't understand partnership or parenting. I am so sorry for your loss.

7:40AM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

My husband worked in other states while I stayed at home as a 24/7 mom of a high need child and another son. There was no shared parenting, no household help, no breaks, no downtime.

It was the hardest job I have ever had and I have done construction, manual labor, childcare and office work. For anyone to say it is a 'sweet deal' obviously is showing his ignorance.

7:58AM PDT on Aug 11, 2011

Rose L: You have totally missed the point. Your problem with motherhood is not about the job, the government, etc. Your biggest problem is (or maybe was) your husband. A man who decides he is the big shot in a marriage and doesn't need to discuss major purchases with his wife, is likely to be problematic in other ways too. I always remember dear Phyllis Schlafly, who went around the country telling women to stay home and take care of their children, while she was (and still is, I believe) working in the Schlafly's law firm as a lawyer while her mother took care of her children. So much for her hypocrisy.

7:43AM PDT on Aug 11, 2011

social and health insurance should cover these expenses, like in Europe.

7:35AM PDT on Aug 11, 2011

For Cheryl H. Your comments are so true. And consider, too, how many men leave their wives home on weekends so they can "bond" with their buddies on golf outings while "allowing" their wives to take care of the kids and the household work. Pam

8:53PM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

Oh, and I think paternity leave is an excellent idea, and for longer than a week (contrary to what Wallace is stupid enough to think).

We need a reality show about what Jane Ordinary's day as a stay-at-home mother is like. Let's show what being a housewife is *really* about, rather than calling women who are well-off enough to hire others to do the work while they shop and get beauty treatment the real housewives of [city].

8:40PM PDT on Aug 10, 2011

'The Price of Motherhood' is an excellent book written back in 2000 and clearly illustrates how shafted and extremely undervalued mothers (because that's usually who the stay-at-home-parent is) are in America because staying at home with your child isn't seen as an economic contribution, and how having children hinders a woman's career over the long-term because of sexist, misogynistic attitudes and policies in the business world. The author, whose name I can't remember, uses Sweden as an example of a country where staying at home with your child is encouraged for both parents and how that hasn't led to disaster and ruination.

I'm floored that there are only three other nations that don't offer guaranteed maternity leave, and all of them are second- or third-world nations. Pathetic. America should be ashamed and get its act in order. Support women and we'll get economically stronger.

I've heard it said that if it were possible for men to get pregnant, there'd be no question of abortion being easily available. By the same token, if men could get pregnant, paternity leave would be seen as a God-given right, along with life, liberty, and gun ownership, and they'd get two or three years off with generous subsidies for childcare for the days they wanted to go out and spend time with other adults.

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