Whenever I'm faced with a difficult decision, I ask myself WWMID? You may not be up on that acronym, so I'll help you out. What Would Ma Ingalls Do? Maybe I should change that to be What Would Caroline Ingalls Do? Because, after all, Caroline was a lot more than just a mother, but alas, I learned of her as Ma Ingalls.

What does this have to do with the idea of menstrual leave? Well, let's ask Ma.

Me: Mrs. Ingalls, when women menstruate they need extra time off work, don't you think?

Caroline Ingalls: I'm sorry, I need to go hoe the garden, wash laundry by hand with soap that I made myself, make 3 meals over an open fire even though it's 90 degrees out, and keep an eye on Grace who has an annoying habit of wandering off. Then I need to repair the chicken coop so that foxes don't eat my chickens, because if they do, we lose out on eggs and I'm hoping to be able to have enough money from selling the eggs to send my blind daughter to college. I'm distracted by all this work I have to do, so what did you ask again?

Me: Menstrual leave. You know, paid time off to deal with cramps?

Caroline: Are you crazy? The only time I ever took any time off was when I had malaria. Time off means the family starves to death and has dingy whites. Of course, the family almost did die during that horrible winter where I managed to keep them alive by making bread out of wheat I ground by hand. I'd love it if cramps were my only problem!

That's what Caroline Ingalls would say. But, Caroline Ingalls was so 19th century. Surely, we've advanced in society to the point where we've figured out that women are so delicate that they can't possibly work while menstruating.

This is not to discount the fact that some women experience excruciating pain regularly. They do. But, pain isn't limited to women. According to the CDC about 50 percent of American adults suffer from some sort of chronic illness. That's why businesses should be as flexible as possible with their employees. We have the Americans with Disability Act and the Family Medical Leave Act to help people deal with their health concerns. Many companies have paid sick leave, and many more should.

But to focus on women and their monthly cycles sends the message that women are weak and incapable of performing at all times. It reinforces old ideas that women shouldn't be put into positions of responsibility because we might freak out due to hormonal cycles. (Wouldn't want a woman with her finger on the button, would we? She might nuke Russia because of PMS.)

Painful periods stink. Endometriosis is truly debilitating. But many other things are also awful. Chron's disease. Migraines. Arthritis. Epilepsy. I could keep going. Why focus on one particular ailment?

When you pick out this one thing that only affects women, you infantilize women. You discount all the hard work that women have done over the years proving that they are smart and capable and can handle difficult things 365 days per year, just like Ma Ingalls did.