Listed As Such

Found this article on Alas, a blog, and I have nothing against the idea that women on maternity leaves should be paid, but one thing I wanted to comment on was the use of the kind of rhetoric that I happen to find in many anti-US arguments and the like including this one. Which is, in this case, saying that:

Indeed, a study from Harvard University last year found that of 168 nations worldwide, the United States is one of only four whose government doesn’t require employers to provide paid maternity leave. The others are Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.
Tapped; Having a baby? Put it in writing

As one of the comments to the post on Alas, a blog notes, it is unclear whether or not any state in the US does have such requirements written in state laws. But I guess another problem here is, what is the point of listing all the three other countries whose government doesn’t have such legislation? I am not suggesting anything about the author’s intent or any conspiracy theory or whatever speculation about anything in this particular article. But every day, we all see the rhetorical device in the same fashion, that is, when the argument is made against the US (government/people/culture), it lists the country as doing something that some “under-developed” countries1 are doing, and when the argument is made in approval of what US is doing, it’s described as something that other good-mannered countries2 are doing, too.

I understand that this rhetoric functions for some social justice, even effectively. But if we continue to be convinced by such rhetoric, accepting the post-colonial world view assumed by many writers3 who use the kind of rhetoric, consciously or subconsciously (doesn’t matter, because I’m not talking about particular writers but the general use of such rhetoric that many people, even social justice activists, sometimes embrace and adopt to amplify their truthiness4), then we will need to face our own ambivalence about what social issues can/should be put on hold for the sake of solving what other social issues.


  1. Which, by the way, my anthropology teacher from a year ago, Dr. Gallin, called “over-exploited” countries. 
  2. And they are sometimes Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, etc. and also sometimes France, Germany, etc. and also sometimes Japan, Taiwan, India, etc. depending on what it is that the “good thing” is about. 
  3. “Writers,” not in the traditional sense. It refers to the more general idea of authorship. 
  4. Maybe the word “truthiness” is quite too harsh. It’s more reliability and persuasiveness that gets amplified. 
Masaki C. Matsumoto
Queer & feminist writer/YouTuber in Japan. To know more about Masaki, visit About.

Leave a Reply