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Pray for a boss like Mr Duffin

“End this obsession with pathologising womanhood.” Getty

For a short, blissful time in Year 11, says Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph, “getting out of PE was a doddle”. All you had to do was go up to our male teacher and say: “women’s stuff”. The same girls would do it week after week, safe in the knowledge that even if Mr Duffin did have “the dimmest understanding of the female cycle”, he wouldn’t be brave enough to object. All that changed, of course, the minute he was replaced with a woman. “She never let any of us skip PE again.”

I thought about this recently when I read that the idea of “paid menstrual leave” is gaining traction with UK policymakers. Already practised in Spain, Japan and South Korea, this allows women to take time off during a painful period. You can do it as often as you like, so if your (male) boss is as hazy as Mr Duffin, “you could be in clover”. Yet for all the talk of “liberation” for women, it’s anything but. You can see what will happen. Women start taking “paid duvet days” for a week every month, until they get pregnant and are off for 39 weeks, perhaps a few times – then it’s time for the menopause. “Tell you what,” employers might think, “shall we just go ahead and hire a man instead?” As one menstrual health campaigner says, the monthly cycle is “not an enjoyable process”, but it’s “normal and healthy”. This obsession with “pathologising womanhood” will only set us back.