Italy’s parliament has begun discussing a possible new law that would provide an official “menstrual leave” policy, granting women three paid days off each month. And while one side has hailed the possibility as a progressive move that finally acknowledges the fact that some women have painful periods, the other side believes it would cement stereotypes of female weakness, and be a step backwards for feminism.
On Twitter, it seemed to be mainly the latter group that was making noise.
Oh good, now every month male Italians can do the work for which their female colleagues are paid because they pms https://t.co/GuJGauSm9m
— Douglas Walton (@douglas_walton) March 28, 2017
Paid menstrual leave? ????I thought feminists wanted equal treatment? ???? https://t.co/69wRySw5wC
— Amy (@breetallyhonest) March 27, 2017
Talk about bleeding heart Liberals! https://t.co/Y5TrfsYTLj
— Maya Maquis (@MaquisMaya) March 28, 2017
@theblaze if we are genderless then there should be no menstrual leave, feminists, or equal pay rules
— Kirk Reeves, R.T. (@radiographicman) March 28, 2017
Still others rejoiced…
— La Jolie (@officiallajolie) March 28, 2017
…or responded with snarky excitement:
— Deanna Raybourn (@deannaraybourn) March 16, 2017
Dysmenorrhea — painful periods — is very common, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, and it can be severe enough to interfere with daily activities of up to 20 percent of women. That’s why, in 2014, U.K. company Coexist announced it created a “period policy,” while several other countries — including Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Zambia, and China — have versions of menstrual leave policies. Italy would be the first Western nation to have such a law.
And for those who experience disabling pain during their periods, such acknowledgement though a law would be very welcome news. “In the past when I’ve called in sick because of debilitating cramps and crippling lower back pain, I’ve felt pressure to say I have a cold or something contagious so my boss wouldn’t think I was slacking,” a Manhattan office worker who does not want her name used tells Yahoo Beauty. Such a law, she says, would make her “feel less guilty about taking care of” herself during that time.
Plenty of women take issue with the idea, though, including Claire Zillman, writing for Fortune.
“By all means, let’s eliminate the taboo surrounding menstruation in the workplace and in society at large,” she says. “But asking employers to specifically accommodate women’s most mundane biological attribute — while helpful to those who suffer severe pain — seems overall like a retrograde request, especially considering how far women have come without it. Plus, these kinds of policies threaten to undermine women’s long-standing battle to discourage the notion that their natural cycle makes them weak or in any way less able.”
And Lorenza Pleuteri, writing for Italian publication Donna Moderna, is concerned that if women are granted extra days of paid leave, then “employers could become even more oriented to hire men rather than women.”
And while the Italian edition of women’s magazine Marie Claire described the proposal as “a standard-bearer of progress and social sustainability,” feminist writer Mirian Goi shared her concern in Vice Italy that it could “end up reinforcing stereotypes about women being more emotional during their periods.”
The bill, was presented in early March by four female Democratic Party lawmakers, could reportedly be approved in the next few months.
What are your thoughts on the possible new law? Tell Yahoo Beauty in the comments section below.
Read more in Yahoo Beauty + Style:
- The ‘First Period Kit’ I Wish I’d Had as a Confused Teen
- Actress Shares Poignant Menstruation Photo: ‘It’s Just Blood’
- Here’s What I Think About Thinx, the Period Underwear That Replaces Tampons