To put into a little bit more perspective (not that you could possibly know because you don’t live here and know the social norms and governmental laws) here in Ireland I’m pretty sure women get 9 months off or around that after childbirth as maternity benefit, can’t say there’s any paternity leave for the men but a lot of my secondary school (Irish equivalent to high school) teachers end up on maternity leave for almost the entire school year.
Not to go against what you’re saying but the problem is that these women can have a kid and get paid for all the time that they’re out (which isn’t bad that’s what maternity leave is in general) but they’re out for almost an entire year receiving at least maternity benefit pay with a substitute teacher doing all the work and the sub isn’t even guaranteed the job.
I don’t know the specifics of all of these rules but it’s happened in many cases that we have a teacher for the first few weeks of school, then they go on maternity benefit until pretty much the next school year and we end up with a substitute (who may or may not be better than the actual teacher) who’s only there until the teacher comes back to work. Like, if the teacher’s out for that length of time I just don’t think they should be guaranteed the job when they get back.
But I do believe of course that women should receive some form of maternity leave it’s drawing the line between what’s comfortable for women and what’s at least not inconvenient for everyone else.
I’m not sure if these specific rules for maternity benefit are only in place for teachers and “civil servants” e.g. policewomen, nurses etc. and I understand that the freedom you are asking for is not so that women get “special treatment” as you very clearly stated, merely that nothing is “expected” of you in terms of specific life choices (not that you aren’t capable of achieving anything). I just wanted to give perspective on something I’ve noticed here in Ireland which I don’t think is entirely fair (particularly for some of the very good substitute teachers I’ve had these past couple years who didn’t get jobs as teachers who I think deserved them).
Again, disclaimer, I don’t know all of this as one hundred percent fact, I only wanted to provide an example of how perhaps maternity leave can be not abused but maybe applied inappropriately.
Apart from that great post, you write like you talk but also manage to keep the illusion of it being a professional article which I think is a very valuable skill.
So keep writing, cause you’re really good at it! :D