What strange and interesting times we are living in.

Within a matter of days we’ve seen two disparate developments, which both relate to the female reproductive system:

— The frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president verbally attacked a female journalist with a remark that many people interpreted as him saying she was “hormonal.”
— Three major companies and the Navy announced expansions of their paid maternity leave benefits.

Is this one step backward followed by one step forward for women? Well, it’s not as simple as that.

In the Republican debate on Aug. 6, Megyn Kelly of Fox News questioned GOP frontrunner Donald Trump about disparaging remarks he had made about women. He responded that he had made such comments only about comedian Rosie O’Donnell. But Kelly pressed him and said that he had made misogynistic, sexist remarks about a number of women, calling them “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.”

The next day Trump said in an interview on CNN that Kelly’s questions were inappropriate. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes,” Trump said. “Blood coming out of her wherever.”

This prompted reaction over the weekend with the organizer of an influential conservative conference disinviting Trump from the Redstate Gathering. And some of the other GOP hopefuls were critical of Trump.

Trump did not back off, saying that he had nothing to apologize for, that he had meant “ears” or “nose” when he said “wherever,” and that anyone who thought otherwise was “a deviant.”  He also said Kelly owed him an apology.

For her part, Kelly said on her Fox News program Monday night that she had nothing to apologize for and that in the debate she had just been doing her job as a journalist.

Meanwhile, the latest polls show Trump holding his lead.

Two days before the debate, Netflix announced that it would offer full-time employees a full year of paid maternity or paternity leave. The next day Microsoft said it would increase its paid maternity leave to 20 weeks. And Adobe Systems announced on Monday that new mothers would get 26 weeks of paid leave.

This is a big step forward, especially when many working women can remember the days glamorized in “Mad Men” when women were often fired when they got pregnant. Still there are many companies that offer much, much less in maternity benefits. And even the lone female contender for the GOP nomination for president opposes a government mandate for paid maternity leave.

Tell us what you think about these matters from the last week. Have we come a long way, baby?

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  • Deborah Harkins August 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Facing scorn because they menstruate has been a burden for women in all societies for thousands of years. To refer to a woman’s “bleeding from wherever” is as noxious an insult as using the N-word about someone who is black. This ancient bias has subjugated women—cast them as “the other”— since Old Testament times. It’s an unforgivable expression of contempt.

  • Nancy Weber August 12, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    But why is it surprising that “even the lone female contender for the GOP nomination” opposes government-mandated maternity leave? That sounds scarily like a suggestion–rightfully deplored when men make it–that women’s hormones govern their decision-making processes, determine their politics. Anyway, postpartum leave isn’t just about women. It’s about the new babies, and the health of our families and society; all new parents–those who give birth, their partners, and those who adopt–should have time with the newcomers. How much time? That’s where it gets tricky. You can be a loving parent and still long to get back to work. Should the government set the timeline?
    I’m probably in deep trouble here, so I might as well go deeper. As a former romance novelist (yes, I was Jennifer Rose), I see the Megyn-Donald
    mutual loathing as a classic literary trope forecasting a topsy-turvy happy ending. In chapter 6, M and D are mid-interview when a power outage kills the lights. Unbeknownst to this adoring public, he’s scared of the dark (explained by a childhood trauma), and she tactfully but forcefully saves him from a meltdown with the flashlight her ex-husband gave her. Chapter 7 is delicious sex, abandoned yet respectful. Chapter 8, she’s elected president. Chapter 9, she proposes to him during the State of the Union address, even though she knows he voted for himself. On Valentine’s Day, he accepts. Title? “Strange Bedfellows,” of course,,,,

  • Roz Warren August 12, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for this useful summary of the controversy. With links! I don’t always share Kelly’s politics, but I respect her as a journalist. Apparently, our least favorite short-fingered vulgarian does not.

  • Rainbow Zomby August 11, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Donald Trump needs to address violence against women. Whatever you might think about Trump, this could be a golden opportunity to make violence against women a central campaign issue.