Today is International Women’s Day. As I understand it, this is designed to be a day to acknowledge the struggle for women’s rights.
Evidently, it’s also “A Day Without a Woman” strike day. Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington are following up their January campaign with a protest aimed at “highlight[ing] the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.”
In order to accomplish this broad mission, they are encouraging women to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor and refrain from shopping. If you can’t do either of these activities you are encouraged to wear red in solidarity of other women (unless of course you also don’t own anything red—many progressives don’t for obvious reasons—in which case you probably should sit the whole thing out lest you be forced to shop).
So technically I shouldn’t be writing this blog today. I am, however, proudly wearing red because this is after all “Red” Girls Salon.
Social media is going crazy debating today’s event and for good reason. In some locations, entire school districts are closed because teachers and support staff aren’t coming to work. While some support their cause, many are infuriated because they’re being forced to take a day off themselves to stay home with the kids or find last minute childcare themselves.
Then there is the issue of “unpaid” work from which women are being encouraged to refrain. Childcare is some pretty major unpaid work. So if you stay home from work in support of the protest and there are young humans in your home for which you usually care (i.e., your children) what are you supposed to do with them? Let them run amok? Feed them (thus engaging in unpaid labor) or sit in your recliner with your feet up and watch them try their hand at cooking and (hopefully) cleaning up?
And what about the shopping ban? On its face, I think it sounds sexist. We all know the stereotype that women are big shoppers. Well, I know plenty of men who love to shop, but you don’t hear much about them. So I think telling women not to shop sounds kind of dumb coming from a group of “progressive” women. What I think they should have done instead is plan ahead a bit and encourage women to do ALL their shopping today. Make it bigger than Black Friday. That would demonstrate the economic power of women in a big way. Plus, the stores would be overrun with customers requiring service from likely minimum wage (and according to the protesters mostly female) workers.
Wouldn’t that make a big statement right there?
I just spoke with a friend of mine who isn’t a fan of this strike. She’s Hispanic and has her own business. She considers this whole protest elitist.
“It’s for rich women who don’t need to work,” she told me. She’s also seen firsthand from the Day Without an Immigrant strike how such a day like this can turn out for someone dependent on their job.
“Someone asked me that day why I was at work,” she told me. “Well, I need to work to pay the bills.” She’s an American citizen but because she’s Hispanic she assumes that she was expected by some to stay home as a show of solidarity. What she did see later was a few people firing their employees for not showing up on days they were needed.
And that’s another criticism brewing on the Day Without a Woman strike. Some are calling it the “Protest of the Privileged.” If you can afford it, you can strike. If you can’t, then hopefully you own a red shirt that’s flattering.
Recently, I was talking over coffee with a group of friends and we discussed the question of equal pay and equal treatment in the workforce. I shared with them the fact that of all the women I was on Law Review with in law school only two of them still practice law. We talked about why that was the case. Mostly it had to do with the nature of law practice and the desire to have a family.
Our conclusion? Anyone can make it work if they have a wife (i.e., a person dedicated to do all the necessary unpaid work that makes a family operate). Otherwise, it’s an enormous struggle.
I’ll be interested to see the impact of the Day Without a Woman strike.
Will it bring about the social change all these women seek or will the only “winners” here be the kids who got to stay home from school?
If the latter proves true, maybe next year if they do this again they can call it “National Snow Day in the Sunshine.”