Why Isn’t Paternity Leave As Important As Maternity Leave?

Daniel Murphy New York Mets at bat

Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets got a lot of guff for taking paternity leave. | Source: ShutterStock

Taking maternity leave is expected for most working moms, because, well, biological mothers go through a lot when giving birth. When fathers take paternity leave, it’s awesome, because mothers need help–and, hello? It’s nice to spend time with their kids.

So why is Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets getting so much flak for taking paternity leave?

Because of misogyny.

“It’s a knockdown, drag-out battle about what it means to be a good man and a good father,”Joan C. Williams, who runs the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, told NBC News. ”Women who take leave … are seen as bad workers but good mothers,” Williams said. “The men are often seen as bad workers and losers as men.”

So basically, if you take leave to bond with your child, you’re a crappy employee, and even worse, you’re seen as feminine. Cute. Add the machismo and dick-measuring that comes along with a lot of professional sports, as well as the idiocy that comes out of some sports radio hosts (like one who said Murphy’s wife should have a C-section so he won’t miss a whopping three games), and you have a mess.

Williams continued, “It’s those kinds of statements that keep men from feeling like it’s OK to say, ‘My family is important to me.’”

And it gets worse as employees and employers get older, apparently, because progressive workplaces that promote equality are still pretty new. “The older men have a lot to prove that there’s only one way into the big leagues,” Williams added. “If you’re serious about the game, you miss your children’s childhoods.”

Whatever. Murphy plays second base, which is one of the least consequential positions on the field. I know–I played it, and I sucked at fielding. If he wants to take a few days off from making millions of dollars for playing a game to hang out with his new baby, for the love of Tom Hanks in A League Of Their Own, just let him.

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