Men Can Breastfeed, Too? No, But….

When I used to work right next to a smoker, I noted his frequent, sanctioned breaks to head outside and get his fix. I joked that I should pretend to be a smoker, too, even though I’d never touched a cigarette,  just so I can go outside, get some air, and enjoy the same benefit every hour or so. The European Union Court of Justice has applied that thinking to breastfeeding now, according to Time magazine: If moms can do it–and get work breaks for it–than dads deserve the same consideration, and to deny men that right is sex discrimination.

Cue the punchlines. I am sure Letterman’s writers are all over this one. And even as an always-harried dad who covets any time to myself that I can grab, I hardly need to point out the absurdity of the idea.

But.

Scratch beneath the surface, and, according to the Time report, the supposed men’s breastfeeding break was not actually that: “Rather, the ruling is intended to make the early infancy period less stressful for both mom and dad. Even though it’s called breast-feeding leave, the court ruled it should really be thought of as “time purely devoted to the child’,” Time says.

Perhaps we should set aside the wisecracks and take note of what a family-friendly policy really is, one which truly values kids, understands the stresses of working parents (male and female), and treats fathers and mothers as equals–and equally deserving of support and protection–in raising their children.

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