A survey of 2,000 women in the United Kingdom found that women who aren’t mothers want maternity leave, too.
In related news: 74 percent of women also claimed to want stretch marks and sleepless nights.
Okay, that last figure isn’t entirely accurate, but this is: Nearly three quarters of women surveyed favor mandated “maternity” leave for women who aren’t mothers.
In the U.K., mothers are entitled to a year of maternity leave, 39 of those weeks paid. (Raise your hand if you’re jealous — a whole year!) Red Magazine editor-in-chief Sam Baker told the Telegraph:
“I think a lot of women who have worked for their employer for ten, or 15 years look around at their colleagues taking maternity leave and feel some element of envy and think, ‘What would I do with that time away from the workplace?’.
Businesses, understandably, are alarmed by the notion. If they have to start offering a paid year off to women without children, it’s only logical that men will follow. After all, who wouldn’t love a company sponsored sabbatical to follow their bliss? I’d love to lose ten pounds on a chocolate diet, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Giving birth to or adopting a child could arguably being defined as “following your bliss” for some, but maternity leave is not a vacation. At least, it’s not like any vacation I’ve ever been on — there’s no room service, and no one comes in a makes the bed after your newborn’s diaper leaks all over it.
The idea that everyone needs time off downplays exactly why maternity is needed in the first place: Because moms need time to heal from childbirth, because they need uninterrupted time to breastfeed without hiding in a company closet to pump, because babies never sleep, and because families(and yes, this includes fathers) need time to bond and adapt to a new life.
We Americans work entirely too much, and our version of maternity leave is nothing but shameful. But to compare a person’s need to climb the Appalachian Trail to a woman’s need for time off after childbirth shows a lack of respect for what it’s like to be a brand-new parent.