He Fought for Paternity Leave. We All Won.
How one man’s fight for fathers’ rights did a service to women, too.
Derek Rotondo is a new father. His company, JP Morgan Chase, gives 16 weeks paid leave to the primary caregiver after the birth of child. He was denied the leave. They assumed his wife would be the primary caregiver.
It’s a reality slap in the face that reminds us that we still have long way to go in the fight for equal rights. It’s amazing that in 2019, a company as large as JP Morgan Chase is so far far behind.
I feel the need to clarify something. When I speak of equal rights, I mean equal rights for everyone.
Being a feminist, people frequently confuse my desire for equality with the desire to see someone else squashed flat.
That’s not how equality works. As women fighting for equal rights, we have to understand that sometimes it’s the men that need the support. Derek Rotondo sure as hell needed it. The beauty of it is that when we support something like his fight for paternity leave, it doesn’t just serve him well. We’re serving each other well.
Women have long been pigeonholed into the primary caregiver role. We have been made to feel shame if we step back from it.
I remember, after the birth of my daughter, being routinely asked by neighborhood women if I was going back to work. When I told them I was not, they asked me why I didn’t want to raise my daughter myself.
No one ever asked my husband at the time if he was going to go back to work or not. It was a given. If there was a parent staying home to care for a child, it would be the mother.
This does nothing to further equality and to decrease the stigmas associated with parental roles. Men have significant societal pressure to be the monetary caregiver. It’s not widely accepted to step back into a role that carries a different kind of support.
What does this do to further the idea that vulnerability is an acceptable trait in men? Not a damn thing. And frankly, we need that from men.
Dads are more than a paycheck and it’s about time that we made them feel like there was more that they bring to the table.
Studies have shown that a father’s impact as a caregiver is just as important as a mother’s.
According to the PEW Research Center, 27% of women are stay-at-home moms as opposed to only 7% of men. Interestingly, this number has not changed much over the last 25 years. So, basically, stay at home dads have gained no ground.
This lawsuit is the game changer.
It breaks through the archaic ideas that the true place for a woman is always still in the home. No matter what we accomplish, how much we make, how much education we have, we’re still no more useful than that. That men can’t be anything other than a financial mean of support.
If we’re going to level a playing field, sand has to be poured into spots where we may not be standing. Derek Rotondo, we have more than enough sand to steady the ground you’re standing on.