January 5th, and we already have an overwhelming frontrunner:
Sometime in 2011, before the gestation of my second son, my employer, Boston University, implemented paternity leave for its male professors. A colleague informed me of this news with much envy and astonishment: his four young children had been born before BU joined the twenty-first century by electing to give to fathers the same benefits it had been giving all along to mothers. I’m not certain how this enlightened advance came about, but I instantly pictured a phalanx of ultra-modern men parading down Commonwealth Avenue, jabbing placards that read “It’s My Seed, So Give Me Leave,” or some such slogan.
BU doesn’t actually advertise this lofty development as “paternity leave”; after all, some of the men I know there might begin impregnating people just to earn a semester off with pay. Instead, and in typical bureaucratic form, school administrators call it “workload reduction.” Maybe it was the euphemism that misdirected me, for my workload reduction led to my being loaded, and reduced, in quite a different way from what “paternity leave” would have intended.
y son was born in March, and my sabbatical went from early May to mid-January, which, in a tidy coincidence, is nearly nine months. But since his care was taken care of by his mother—whose apparent willingness and capacity to do almost everything for him flooded me with awe—I spent those nine months trying not to be bored while not writing a novel that was coming due. (No novelist who recognizes the unholy hardship of writing a novel ever wants to write a novel.) Hey, the proper dose of lager seemed to slacken my body without sapping my mind, and all day long, while I was not-writing my novel and not-feeding my newborn son, I looked forward to those drinks with a religious panting.
Yes, clearly men not lifting a finger to help their female partners raise their children is just a fact of nature, unalterable by any possible individual choice. This time off has to be spent drinking. Paternity leave for men is just stupid. Hard to dispute that logic!
This article would have been embarrassing enough if it had been more appropriately placed in Maxim or the Daily Caller; what it’s doing in the Baffler I can’t tell you.