The U.S. is so family unfriendly. I never really thought that much of this… outside of the fact that American employers are obligated to provide a total of zero weeks of paid leave to their employees after the birth or adoption of a child, that new mothers are constantly discriminated against when they return to work, that visibly pregnant women cannot feasibly look for new employment, that new fathers are discouraged from taking their full paternity leave (if their employers even provide it). So you know, not too many things, but enough to get my blood boiling. Then, I started noticing it even more when I began traveling more internationally. I noticed things like… completely separate bathrooms for families and actual baby changing rooms that were separated from the main restrooms. I noticed a baby carrying seat in the women’s room stalls so that a mother can properly pee without needing to hold her infant or toddler down. I saw women openly breastfeeding without any cover-up, without people staring at them like they were offensive to God. I heard announcements at airport gates for pre-boarding for families with children. These things never happen here. The latest thing I’ve noticed here in the U.S. is breastfeeding rooms popping up in airports; I was truly amazed by this. Truly.
So I got even more infuriated when I accompanied my five-months pregnant colleague to Old Navy today just a few blocks from our office to find out that they had no maternity section period. We asked a worker when we walked in, and she embarrassingly told us that there was no maternity section at any Old Navy in all of Manhattan, and if we wanted to find a maternity section, we either need to go to Queens or Brooklyn locations for Old Navy, or order online and do in-store pickup. The other option was that on the second floor, they had all their maternity returns for the pieces that didn’t work out.
“So basically, pregnant women aren’t allowed in Manhattan?” I asked the worker. She laughed and said she had brought up this issue multiple times to the manager of the store, and he would respond, saying they didn’t have enough space “for that.” The store worker eventually agreed with me. “We’re really just not friendly towards expectant mothers. It’s sad.”
When we went upstairs to view the returned maternity pieces, it was very clear to us that a lot of women were shopping online for maternity wear and doing in-store pickup; the store manager was just completely short-sighted and literally being a dick towards pregnant women. This is just another form of discrimination, another form of being anti-family and ultimately, anti-woman.
“So, I basically have two options,” my colleague said to me, sighing. “I can go to the really expensive maternity wear stores and pay $100-200 for a dress, or I can shop at Old Navy for reasonable prices, but only online!”
Why do we live in such an anti-family, anti-woman society?