“It’s not prison. You can quit,”

CREDIT: iStock.

CREDIT: iStock.

The South Dakota Patriarchy, er, politicians strike again. This time, they are making sure of no protections for pregnant workers. After all, women really shouldn’t be working in the first place, they should be at home, waiting on a man.

On Monday, eight male lawmakers in South Dakota voted down a bill that would have required reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers so they can safely stay on the job.

Instead of offering protections against discrimination, unsafe conditions, and getting fired, one of the men had a different solution for pregnant employees. “It’s not prison. You can quit,” Republican state Rep. Wayne H. Steinhauer, who voted against the bill, said during a hearing, according to Rewire.

“You’ve got a choice every day. You make a choice whether you come to work,” he went on. “And I’m here to tell you, if a person’s not allowing you to breastfeed at work or making appropriate accommodations at work, we can pass this law, but you don’t want to work for that guy. Get the heck out of there.”

Oh, sure, you could pass that law, but you didn’t, because it’s ever so much more important to grind women into the dirt. Much more necessary to drive home just how subhuman you think women are in the first place. It wasn’t quite enough to pass draconian laws stripping women of their bodily autonomy. This is such blatant misogyny that it’s on the stunning side. Nothing like baldly stating that people in the workplace definitely don’t need to aspire to being better human beings. Interesting to note the assumption that the boss would be male. Also the assumption “you don’t want to work for that guy!” Nothing like assuming you know what any given woman should think or want. The fact that people probably need their job doesn’t seem to factor in, either. Seems to me that a whole lot of people would prefer to “not work for that guy”, but they do anyway, because they need their job, and a person can still like their actual job while not liking their boss.

This isn’t about bosses, though. This is about broad workplace policies. It’s about removing discrimination. It’s about protection and recourse in the face of harassment. Little things, y’know. Mr. Steinhauer, you have a choice every day, too. You could show up at work and actually do your job. As that seems inimical to you, perhaps you should get the heck out of there. Go home and wait on the little woman or something.

Think Progress has the full story.


  1. Kengi says

    This isn’t the communist Soviet Union, either. If the business owner doesn’t like the regulation they could always sell the business to someone who doesn’t mind the regulation. For some reason, though, it’s always the workers who have to accommodate the owners.

    If only there was a system which could give workers more bargaining power. You know, a system which could allow workers to use their right to free association so as to enable them to bargain in a collective manner instead of as individuals. A system that could influence politicians on behalf of workers in the same way businesses already do.

    I don’t know what to call such a system. Maybe we could call it the Affordable Collaboration Act, which would definitely not be unions so people could support the ACA while railing against the evils of unions.

  2. says


    It is striking how hard are USA conservatives trying to stop any and all progress.

    This is what they’ve always wanted though, and this is their chance. South Dakota has been busy creating a hellhole of a theocracy since 2006, passing some of the most draconian laws and measures seen anywhere in the states. In that way, they’ve been leaders of other conservatives, breaking the ground others fear to tread.

  3. kestrel says

    They are not “conservatives” -- they are regressives. Against all progress. The old, “let’s go back” idea.

    The regressives don’t seem to mind labeling people, I think we should label *them*. What’s good for the goose, etc.

  4. AlexanderZ says

    The striking thing about this voting is that it doesn’t even benefit the bosses. In the short term making new accommodations might be mildly expensive (but that too depends on the size of the work force, the bigger the workforce the smaller the cost will be compared to the day-to-day running of the organization), but it would pay for itself in the medium and long term several times over due to increased workforce efficiency.

    This is not about business -- this is pure misogyny.

  5. says

    Pro life, eh?
    In Germany, if your job threatens your pregnancy, even if it is just potentially like working with kids in preschool where you could catch German measels, your employer has the obligation to provide you with a safe workplace* or your doctor orders you to stay home and health insurance pays 70% of your paycheck.
    Mot to mention 14 weeks of maternity leave…

    *Friend of mine got put on desk duty

  6. jimb says

    As a counter to this, I noticed when my group moved into this building (one of five on the campus), it has a Nursing Mother’s Room. I walk by it several times a week -- it’s on my way to one of the technician labs.

  7. says


    Let’s hope it stays that way. Problem being what it always is though, and working parents are treated like shit here. There’s no decent parental leave, offered to both parents, most places don’t have nursing stations, and so on.

  8. jimb says


    I agree with you. I guess should have included that my experience is based on my privilege of living in Nor Cal and working for a large (~3500 employees) global company.

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