Today is International Women’s Day. In recognition of the day, in the US, activists have called for a general strike by all women. The strike means:
- No work, either paid (a job) or unpaid (housework, caregiving)
- Don’t spend any money
- Wear red in solidarity
I am doing all these things today. Why? Let me lay out my reasons:
- I don’t like being taken for granted.
- I want my voice heard about inequalities in the workplace and in the home.
- I want to demonstrate that women are a big part of the economy.
- I want to continue the momentum from the Women’s March in January.
Many women I know are on board and many women are not. Here are some common criticisms and my responses:
Q: How nice for you that you can take a day off from work with no penalty. Doesn’t this “strike” smack of privilege?
A: Yeah, it does smack of privilege. So what? I am able to take off a day from work without taking a hit to my bank account or imperiling my job. I am fortunate. I am speaking for those who cannot.
Q: You’re not in a union. You like your job and you’re well-paid. Why take out your political frustrations on your employer?
A: Even if you are well paid and well treated at your workplace, you can bet that others are not. Some women at your workplace are paid less than men for doing the same work. Some women didn’t get promotions or plum assignments or other opportunities because they’re women, a mother to young children, pregnant, or caregiver for someone. Some women at your workplace have to deal with sexism, bias, hostility and harassment. You are affected by these things even if you don’t personally deal with them every day. Speak for those who cannot, those who are silenced by trauma and fear.
Q: Why take this out on people who need you, like your husband, kids or parents?
A: Don’t tolerate emotional blackmail. If your husband has to cook and do the dishes, he’ll live. If he does not “get” the purpose of the strike, you have bigger problems in your marriage to worry about. You’d be surprised what your kids can do on their own if they have to. Any child over the age of 3 or 4 can dress themselves, feed themselves, use the toilet and other basic tasks. Your kid may be dressed weird or may have cereal for dinner, or their hair may be messy or their teeth poorly brushed, but again, for one day, they’ll live. Older children can help younger ones. If you’re truly the caregiver for someone helpless – an infant, an elderly parent – then of course it’s not right to let them suffer. Get your husband, brother or son to do whatever they can. You do what must be done but no more.
Q: Doesn’t the “no spending money” hurt woman-owned businesses too?
A: Of course. Some strikers have decreed it’s OK to spend money on a woman-owned business, but I disagree. No business is going to go under because women don’t spend money there for one day. It’s about demonstrating our economic power. Often, businesses that cater to women – the hair salon, the boutique, the yoga studio – are really owned by men anyway. Be sure you know who owns the businesses you frequent! Some friends and I came up with a list of women-owned businesses in our city, and we pledged to use these businesses whenever possible.
Q: Wear red? Really?
A: OK, I think the whole “wear this” directive is kinda juvenile, but I suck it up and do it because it’s part of the visual statement we need to make. One of the reasons the Women’s March was such a success was because all the pink pussyhats made a major statement. I would prefer that we stuck with pink, but whatever. I have my red sweater on.
Q: So, basically, you’re just going to be lazy for the day, right?
A: Yes and no. I am taking some “me” time today to work on a sewing project. I did a good workout at home this morning. I will enjoy a glass of wine tonight when my husband makes dinner and cleans up. But I am also taking action, including writing this blog, and going to a demonstration later today. Do whatever you want! You’ve earned it!