Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Glad I'm not in the Spanish Military

I talked about Spain going down the tubes earlier this week. It's worse than I thought. A common criticism of women in the military (especially in the Navy) is what you do with them when they get knocked up, as they inevitably will. But what about when your Defense Minister is the one who is pregnant?
When Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's new cabinet members took their oath of office before King Juan Carlos on Monday, one of them, the recently-appointed Defense Minister, stood out from the rest. Literally. Carme Chacón, 37, is not only the first woman to head Spain's armed forces. She is also seven months pregnant.


But for all the preparation, the sight of Chacón inspecting troops on her first day in office, with her rounded belly covered in a stylish maternity blouse, came as a jolt. After walking firmly past a line of erect soldiers in their dress uniforms, the minister gave a brief, adulatory speech, then led the troops in a rousing cheer of "Viva España!"

For Spanish feminists, the small shock of that moment is exactly the point. "It's an important image precisely because it conveys normality," says Marisa Sotelo, president of the Madrid' based Women's Foundation. "It serves a pedagogic function: it shows that women can be and are everywhere."

"Women can be and are everywhere." Unless they're on maternity leave, apparently:
Delicacy indeed, For now, the most pressing question is what Chacón will do when she gives birth in June. Thanks to Zapatero's efforts, Spanish women are entitled to 16 weeks paid maternity leave. But can a defense minister — especially a female one — afford to take four months off? Although the Socialist government recently increased paternity leaves to 15 days, it may soon find itself under internal pressure to extend those breaks for fathers as well.
Thank God we've got SECDEF Gates.Or, for that matter, SECSTATE Rice. Both competent individuals who are, more importantly, NOT PREGNANT.

For those of you who didn't click on the USS Acadia link above, what the hell, I'm probably in enough trouble already: