I am a feminist. This means that I believe in political, economic, and social equality of the sexes. It also means that I support groups that fight for women’s rights. In this case, “women’s rights” are those topics that strive to bring women to an equal footing with men. Not above. Equal.
We are currently living in a society where a major presidential candidate was caught on tape talking graphically about assaulting women. Where that candidate beat out a vastly more qualified woman, and now holds the highest office in the land. The day after he was inaugurated, millions of women across the country and the world marched in protest of the way that things were being laid out, and as a sign that they would not be silent going forward.
Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. The organizers of the Women’s March, in a continuing the activism that they were a part of setting in motion since last November have declared that March 8 will also be a day that “women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity”.
The ways they suggest participating include:
- Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
- Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
- Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman
At the time I write this post (Tuesday) I’m still trying to decide whether or not I will take the day off. I have enough leave where it’s not really an issue. The issue becomes impact – my office (a library) is predominately women. And I can’t think of one other person in my office who would take the day off. Which is not entirely true because I was talking with my coworker M the other day about this, and she said (rightly) that if we reference librarians were not in, everything would shut down. Not….”shut down”, but it would be a significant impact. The problem is that she can’t take March 8 off. She has a small child, and because there isn’t really such a thing as “maternity leave” in the Federal Government – it’s just your own accrued annual leave and sick leave that can be used against a very strict set of rules, and because of FMLA they can’t fire you for taking 12 weeks of any combination of annual leave/sick leave/and unpaid leave. So since she has returned, it’s been a struggle to catch up and accrue again. She has to come to work, but plans on wearing red. [I have strong feelings about the lack of paid parental leave in the federal government if you can’t tell]
Because of that, I can’t decide. If I don’t show up, it will likely be written off as “Maggie took a personal day on a random Wednesday”, not “Maggie is striking in support of economic, political and social equality for women”. It doesn’t help that there are other things I would rather be doing with my annual leave. I can still participate by wearing red and by not shopping tomorrow. Writing this post and declaring my solidarity is good. But can you imagine if my office weren’t so complacent, and if in a field that was so heavily dominated by women if our entire library of women didn’t show up? It would cause chaos.
In any case – to those who can strike and make a difference, I salute you. To those who can’t for other reasons, I support you too. No matter what, I’ll be wearing red, and I won’t be shopping on Wednesday. I won’t be cooking or cleaning or doing household chores beyond the most basic things I do for myself. I’m interested to see what will be happening in this country – what the actual numbers will look like.
So – who out there is striking? Can strike? Anyone else in a position like me where you want to strike, but you either can’t, or it wouldn’t make a difference? What else are you doing?