Buttigieg’s Paternity Leave Reminds US Priority To Work Over Family | Arwa Mahdawi


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What Pete Buttigieg reveals about paternity leave in America

Prepare yourself, because what I am going to say next may shock you. Here we go: an American adopted newborn twins and then had the audacity to take time off from work to take care of them! No, I can’t believe it either. No self-respecting red-blooded man should spend time with his little babies. He should be in the office, missing those first few months, so that he can focus on what is really important. Forget the connection to your vulnerable newborns, there are urgent emails to send.

The man in question, of course, is US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who recently adopted twins with her husband. The Tories predictably had homophobic hysterics about the loving family, but were bowled over when it emerged that Buttigieg had taken parental leave. Fox News host Tucker Carlson, the patron saint of family values, ridiculed Buttigieg’s parenthood last week. “Paternity leave, they call it,” sneered Carlson. “Trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how it happened. Carlson, by the way, has four children. No word on how much time he spent with them when they were born. Without a doubt, he was. a real man ™ and let his wife, or nannies, take care of all the parenting.

Buttigieg’s paternity leave was criticized again on Tuesday when a reporter for conservative news outlet Newsmax asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki if it was not wise for Buttigieg to return to work. Psaki responded by saying: “He is at work. I was on a conference call with him this morning. She then spoke about the importance of parental leave.

Psaki’s response to Newsmax has been widely celebrated on social media and by the more liberal media. There was one number of titles like: “Psaki stops attacking Newsmax reporter.” I wonder if the people who praise Psaki really listened to what she said. Because his very first instinct, let me remind you, was to insist that Buttigieg is still working. (By the way, Buttigieg had a similar response to Carlson’s attack – he went to MSNBC shortly thereafter to point out that he was “available 24/7 on matters that cannot wait.”)

Unlike all gushing headlines, Psaki didn’t “shut down” the Newsmax reporter at all. Rather, she reassured her that Buttigieg might be on leave, but still juggling all of his responsibilities like the heroic workaholic that he is. And that is an absolutely terrible response. This undermines anything Psaki will say later about the importance of parental leave. Because, the last time I checked, parental leave is supposed to be let. You are not supposed to be working at the same time. I understand: Buttigieg has a very important job. But if the transportation service cannot function without it for a few months, then we should all be very worried. A commitment to parental leave is more than just noble words, it means putting in place processes that allow people to actually take parental leave.

You’d expect the Tories to have Stone Age opinions on paternity leave, but let’s face it, Democrats have a hell of a way to go in this department too. Buttigieg’s paternity leave has been an incredible opportunity for the Biden administration to communicate how important paid family leave is. They should have been screaming about Buttigieg’s paternity leave from the rooftops from the start. They should have used it as an opportunity to talk about the importance of time off for men – and the fact that we will never achieve gender equality until men start to take their responsibilities seriously. in terms of care. Instead, it seems odd that they tried to keep Buttigieg’s leave a secret. The transportation department did not announce that Buttigieg would be taking time off when he started in mid-August. The only reason this made the headlines is that Politico broke the news last week with a bulletin describing Buttigieg as “MIA” and asking if Buttigieg can “have it all”. Seeing him run away like he did makes it seem like some sort of dirty secret. The defense since (he is working, I promise!) only reinforces that.

I don’t want to be too pessimistic. Buttigieg’s paternity leave is a big deal and an example of how social norms are slowly changing for the better. Still, the fact that Psaki received praise for what was ultimately a pretty terrible response is depressing. It shows how the United States – the only wealthy country in the world without a paid leave law for new parents – prioritizes work over families. It shows how much the American people seem to expect from their own government. And it shows how even liberals in the United States always seem to struggle with the idea of ​​a man putting his kids ahead of his job.

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