Thursday, January 22, 2009

Proving once again how quick we are to judge women, especially mothers

Eleanor Beardsley's report about Justice Minister Rachida Dati returning to work five days after giving birth makes a lot of good points about whether this is a good thing or bad thing for women.

Here's a quote from Florence Montreynaud, a writer and feminist:

I think it's terrible for all the women in France . . . . Because this example separates women into two categories: a few superwomen with a wonderful job, and millions [of] other women that are totally normal to feel a little tired after birth. These women are — what to say — sissy? Or weakling?
The editor of the French magazine Closer, however, praised Dati, 43, calling her a symbol of the modern woman. He said:

I think these images will stay on the memoire collective, on the memory of all the French women, because it's a very strong image . . . . I think this image gives hope to women in their 40s, women who want children. Because it shows that you can be pregnant and keep very important responsibilities in your job.

Dati happens to be unmarried, and she has not disclosed the identity of the child's father. She is also iconic in France because she is a rare immigrant success story, the daughter of Algerian-Moroccan parents.

One angle that Beardsley doesn't amplify but that speaks for itself in this report is how we judge women--especially mothers--for their choices. She reports poll results indicating that 56% of those surveyed disapprove of Dati's quick return to work.

French law provides a 16-week paid maternity leave and strong job protection for mothers.

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