Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Greener Feminist Pastures II: Fathers May Get More Paid Paternal Leave

“[F]athers should be available for the mothers of their children for several weeks after they give birth.”

According to a new Swedish report, fathers should have a month of paid paternal leave during a baby’s first three months life. Swedish dads currently get 10 days of paid leave to spend with newborns. If the new proposal kicks in, the extra month would be in addition to the 180 days of paid paternal leave (at 80% of salary) fathers already receive during the first 8 years of a child’s life.

Probably all this father-child bonding has something to do with the fact that deadbeat dads are as rare in Sweden as they are plentiful in the U.S. Ditto for maternal and child poverty. The Swedish government has been working on the project of transforming dads into something more than paycheck earners for a number of years. Wonder when the idea will catch on in the U.S.

Here in the Superpower, paternal leave means he LEAVES you with the baby. And the last time I looked at the U.N. report (available online, but I’m too lazy to find the link), there were only six nations in the world with governments that fail to mandate some level of paid maternity leave. Big Clue: One of them is ruled by a cowboy.

As to father-child bonding, Susan Faludi cited a study or two in Backlash confirming what many of us already knew: in America, masculinity is defined as earning a paycheck. The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the man. If equal pay for women is a threat to masculinity, and it is, women in America have a very very long way to go.

As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s worth noting that among the advanced nations of the world, the Superpower ranks number one in maternal and child poverty. And, no, Congress is not holding a midnight session to deal with this crisis. It seems obvious to me that this won’t change until women, or feminists, are the decision makers.