Brow Beat

For Mother’s Day, John Oliver Skewers Our Ridiculous Lack of Paid Maternity Leave

Last night John Oliver took time out to appreciate all that mothers do for us. But what begins as a takedown of corporate opportunism on Mother’s Day—“What better way to honor the woman that gave you life than taking her to Hooter’s?”—quickly turns to a serious look at a grim reality: America is one of only two countries without a mandated paid maternity leave. “Just us and Papua New Guinea,” Oliver says. “That’s as unlikely a pairing as Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon.”

Oliver notes that a paid leave for new mothers would not damage the economy as much as its opponents have feared. “It seems paid maternity is a bit like having hockey on in the background in a bar. It’s not hurting anyone, and a couple of people are actually really into it.” But in the end, the backlash against paid maternity leave seems to be one more example of systemic sexism rather than prudent economics. Nowhere is this clearer than in the “realistic” Mother’s Day ad that closes the segment, with cameos from America Ferrera and Erinn Hayes.