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Lena Dunham Explores The Stigma Of Women's Sick Leave

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Lena Dunham Explores The Stigma Of Women's Sick Leave Photo

by Kelsey Duchesne | 11/29/2016

Lena Dunham is used to trolls on social media, and has even gone as far as to not manage her own Twitter as a solution. However, the actress posted a comment she received on Twitter (without the commenters handle) onto her own Instagram account to point out a stigma that women not only face, but use against one another.

After cancelling an appearance at a bookstore because she was sick, Dunham tweeted, "So sorry to miss folks at @BookSoup today! I'm so thankful for the chance to be an indie bookseller but am alas under the weather.”

Shortly after, Dunham received a response. “@lenadunham no offense but you’re too sick to sit and sign books? I was back at work 6 days after a c-section," an unnamed woman said.  Disappointed by the reaction, Dunham used the opportunity to point out a massive flaw in the way we approach sick leave.

“This was a response yesterday when I said I would be cancelling an appearance at a bookstore because I was sick. At first it made me laugh a lot- like, oh, I'm sorry, I left your award in the car,” she wrote. “But then I really contemplated how dark it is that our culture prizes these speedy recovery narratives because guess what? They're actually ways to keep women from feeling fucking pissed that they don't have proper maternity leave or medical and family care resources. We may not have an imminent policy change on the way, but we can change the way we talk about this stuff, and treat childbirth (or fatherhood! Or illness!) as the serious and personal journeys that they are."

Dunham brings up a serious point. More than 41 million Americans do not have access to sick leave, and 13 percent of all Americans have access to paid family leave through their employers, even though 72% of Americans support a paid-family-leave law. The United States is the *only* developed nation that does not secure paid family leave for their employees. This means women who have just birthed a live human being from their body are going back to work before they are physically and mentally ready-- how does this make sense? I repeat: a human has just been removed from your insides, and you’re told exactly how long you have to feel better? This law also affects men and women who are recovering from illness. As a country that prides itself on not taking sick days and working through the pain, isn’t it about time we stopped competing for “who went back to work first” and took a day or two off?

 Dunham says yes, and we do too.  Major props to our Girl for making this topic relevant in media once again.

by Kelsey Duchesne

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