Paid Menstrual Leave – It Is Time!

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A Russian lawmaker has asked parliament to give women two days paid leave a month when they menstruate… Mikhail Degtyaryov, a member of the nationalist LDPR party, wrote on his website “During that period (of menstruation), most women experience psychological and physiological discomfort. The pain for the fair sex is often so intense that it is necessary to call an ambulance”… Scientists and gynecologists look on difficult menstruation not only as a medical, but also a social problem…”

~ Standard Digital, August 2013

Fascinating! Lets look at how good things are turned on their heads, yet again, to result (unsurprisingly) in women’s dis-empowerment.

Indeed, a paid monthly Menstrual Leave would be an honoring, empowering option for women worldwide. Yet proposing it for all the wrong reasons diminishes us, and our cyclicity, to “a social problem.”

Campaigns have been initiated over the years under the guise of empowering women, which ended up diminishing, dis-empowering, and ultimately killing us! Marketing guru Edward Bernays was hired in 1928 by an American Tobacco Company president to increase sales of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Sigmond Freud’s work was utilized to expand understanding of ‘What Women Want’ and capitalize on it for marketing purposes.

Realizing that women were motivated and empowered by the suffrage movement, Bernays manipulated a real need – into a persuasive sales tactic. He hired women to march in the Easted Sunday parade smoking what he cleverly named their “Torches of Freedom.” Bernays succeeded overnight: he persuaded women to pick up an unhealthy habit, and commit to spending their hard earned money for years, by equating cigarettes with personal freedom and equality to men. Smoking among women exploded into unparalleled heights. Their personal freedom and equality to men continued to suffer…

Similarly, women were encouraged by manipulative campaigns to start giving birth in hospitals after countless generations of home births. Many new hospitals were built as a result of Second World War, to accommodate the staggering number of injured soldiers returning from battle. It took a few years for most hospitals to empty, as wounded soldiers either recovered or died. Faced with many large vacant hospital buildings and idle staff, administrators procured and released ad campaigns, which sinisterly manipulated women to believe that giving birth at home was ‘primitive’ and unsafe, while birthing at the hospital was promoted as safer, ‘modern’, and a highly intelligent choice.

Women bought into these campaigns, and many others like them, all over the world. They started smoking and felt ‘glamorous’. They started giving birth in hospitals and felt ‘modern’. They started using disposable menstrual products and felt ‘progressive’ and ‘in control.’ All along they have also been developing an array of respiratory diseases and dying of lung cancer; They have been cut open in cesarean sections (1 in 4, to accommodate doctor’s convenience); They have reached an all-time-high maternal and infant mortality rates following hospital birth; And they have been contributing to our planetary ecological crisis by damping 12 billion “feminine hygiene” products into landfills every year, in the U.S.A. Alone!

And here we are: In the midst of a pioneering worldwide movement of women reclaiming menstruation as the heightened state of awareness for which it was recognized in all indigenous cultures; In the process of inspiring women to honor their menstrual blood and their body’s needs, by taking time off to rest and renew themselves on the first day of their period — we are faced with a legal initiative which is both revolutionary and reactionary at the same time!

Wouldn’t it be revolutionary for the workplace to grant Paid Menstrual Leave to women? Wouldn’t we feel validated in our need for rejuvenation, honored for our body’s monthly regeneration, and empowered by the cultural acknowledgment of our rhythm?

We certainly would, if it weren’t billed as a response to “a social problem” of the “fair sex” who suffers “psychological and physiological discomfort.” Our menstrual cycle is neither a social problem nor a mere discomfort. Our menstrual flow is profound and life affirming work performed monthly by our bodies. We need to rest and renew in response to it, or we develop symptoms labled “psychological and physiological discomfort” by our culture (and frequently by us, too…)

Cigarettes, hospital births, and disposable menstrual products were sold to us through clever manipulative tactics, yet we never needed them… We DO NEED Paid Menstrual Leave!

We have stopped smoking in drovers. We have been reclaiming home births, and have started using sustainable menstrual products (such as cloth pads, sea sponges, and menstrual cups). It is time to claim for ourselves, and demand from our culture, a monthly PML to replace PMS!

PML (Paid Menstrual Leaveis the deeply deserved rest our body, mind, and spirit need monthly. In its absence, our body screams in PMS pain, and will continue to do so until we listen to its needs and honor them.

This is a call for action! Lets unite in demanding legaly-bound Paid Menstrual Leave — not as a patronizing gesture designed to send us home for being a “social problem.” But rather as the honoring of a deep need, which springs from our depth, to renew our body, our emotions, and our spirit – monthly – while preparing for another cycle in the ever turning wheel of our lives.

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© 2013 DeAnna L’am ~ All Rights Reserved

4 Responses

  1. According to Wikipedia women in Japan, The Philippines, Indonesia, and Korea are entitled to Menstrual Leave (some at half pay). Read on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_leave:
    “The concept of menstrual leave started in Japan in the early 20th century. In the 1920s, Japanese labor unions started to demand leave (seiri kyuka) for their female workers. In 1947, a law was brought into force by the Japanese Labor Standards that allowed menstruating women to take days off work. Then a unique legislation of its kind, it is now found in a few countries. Debate continues as to whether it is a medical necessity or a discriminatory measure.
    Changing times
    Nike also included menstrual leave in their Code of Conduct in 2007, implemented around the globe wherever they operate. Nike obliges the business partners to follow the code principles by signing a Memorandum of Understanding. Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) started a campaign for menstrual leave for female employees at Toyota. The union asked for 12 paid days of menstrual leave for a woman per year.
    Laws in place
    The Philippines government considered the House Bill 4888, known as the Menstruation Leave Act of 2008, which was initiated by the Alliance of Rural Concern (ARC) representative. The bill aimed to grant mandatory menstruation leave to all private and government female employees, except those pregnant and menopausal, at half pay.
    In Indonesia, under the Labor Act of 1948, women have a right to two days of menstrual leave per month.
    In Japan, according to the Article 68 of the Labour Standards Law, “When a woman for whom work during menstrual periods would be specially difficult has requested leave, the employer shall not employ such woman on days of the menstrual period.”
    In Korea, not only are female employees entitled to menstrual leave according to the Article 71 of the Labour Standards Law,[11] but they are also ensured additional pay if they do not take the menstrual leave that they are entitled to.”
    What do you think???

  2. I agree that we need Paid Menstrual Leave to rejuvenate our bodies. This is one way of promote women’s needs and concerns in the wider spectrum of economic and social development and address both the practical and strategic need of women as being different from those of men.

  3. As I read the article what came to mind is a parallel to the suffrette movement. Women still have to get ‘their rights’ from men. Why is it such a struggle for women to get what they deserve. But struggle it is until women accept and acknowledge that what they are needing is to acknowledge the natural flow during their moon- times. I wonder if women were in the places of power that men have, would it be a no brainier to honor their cycle? Would allowing women to follow and listen to what their bodies and emotions need for health and harmony be automatic?
    Sacred menstrual education is so needed for all so that this ‘issue’ transforms into a right!

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