When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced that she would be taking limited maternity leave after she delivers her twins, I could somehow hear the collective rise of a million middle fingers of working American moms. Sure, her decision to hop right back into work is a personal one. But the grand announcement of her decision comes across as a crass judgement against the purpose and efficacy of maternity leave for all women, while managing to place front and center her complete comfort of displaying her white privilege in the corporate world.
I find it so peculiar that she, along with others who share her work enthusiasm, can so easily sit upon her perch and shadily wag her finger at those moms who dare to spend time with their newborns. It is a subtle slight that comes at a time when a majority of American women receive little to no maternity leave, and few have the opportunity or resources as she has to house a nursery next to her office with round the clock nannies. Her decision is a damning blow to the already embattled maternity leave policies in the United States. And no one will say it, but employers and coworkers who are already secretly biased against parents in the workforce, will have another resource in their stash of arguments against support for working families.
I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout.
She says this with aplomb, wearing this work ethic like a badge of honor. But she’s not doing anyone any favors. And while her decision may be pleasing to the leaders of the corporate machine, her method of breeding and working is more tantamount to corporate slavery.
Slavery. When I see Black women proscribe to this corporate foolishness, I can only be reminded of the slave mother being groomed, inseminated, and forced through multiple labors for profit, while receiving little to no support after delivery, the fruits of her labor being immediately stolen. The fact that some 400 years later, Black women still aren’t getting their fare share of the pot after all that breeding and climbing up that shaky corporate ladder should give them a clear picture. While Mayer is busy sending work emails in the delivery room, we need to understand that Black women don’t have necessarily that choice of whether or not to work. We need to understand that Mayer’s choices are not for us. We can try, but after a long while, we will discover that this shit just isn’t working.
The fact that Marissa Mayer can do what she does, and make this statement as she does is problematic. Her statement is a frustrating cauldron or privilege, whiteness, and white privilege. And sadly, too many women, Black women especially, have bought into her corporate fantasies.
So yes, I said it. Shut up, Marissa Mayer. If you want to work while you deliver your babies, go right on ahead. But don’t expect a pat on the back from the rest of us.