Getting PTO during your period: Sexist or completely genius?

Dec 11, 2014 at 2:25 p.m. ET

A doctor in the U.K. is proposing that women get paid time off each month for their menstrual cycle. Dr. Gedis Grudzinskas, a London-based obstetrician and gynecologist, says that many women are so sickened by their period that they should be allowed to stay home so they can rest and come back better employees. At first glance, this seems totally sexist right?

We women have fought for years to be viewed as equals in the workplace. We have fought for equal pay and equal opportunities and in many ways, we still don't have either. So who is this yahoo Dr. Grudzinskas to tell us that we need paid time off as women to deal with our icky periods.

But then I started thinking.

Other countries have done this. Japan, Indonesia, Korea and the Philippines all have laws in place that allow a working woman to take time off during her period if the discomfort and pain is too great to do her job. And quite frankly, any woman who does have painful menstrual cramps or debilitating PMS can tell you, it's actually really difficult to work through them.

So why do I feel so guilty admitting that? Why do I feel like I am betraying my fellow women?

Maybe it is because it's a man saying all this. How can a man possibly understand what menstruation is like for a woman? It's as though he is suggesting we are delicate flowers who can't possibly be expected to work during such a difficult time each month. Please. We women have had our periods for years. We can handle it.

Even beyond the obvious offensiveness, this also brings up some disturbing issues, according to Alice J. Dan, a professor with the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who has researched the topic extensively. She says:

It is used by employees as an argument against providing equal positions for female workers, at the same time that its meager benefits pacify women and keep them from fighting for more substantial benefits like higher wages and better work conditions.

Yikes.

The fact is, we all deserve fair, paid sick leave. Women and men. We all should be allowed to take days off each month and still get paid. That's true whether we have a sick child, pneumonia, a bad cough, a headache or period cramps. And we shouldn't have to explain to our bosses why we need the time. Period (pun, intended). Quite frankly, it's no one's business.

Would you ever take time off for your period?

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