So, I wish she had let me see this on Wednesday, but I need to post this thing that was written by my wife, Tee. I feel like it very adequately wraps up the counterpoint to many of the arguments that fly through social media whenever there is some sort of protest/awareness day, whether it be facebook profile pics or taking the day off work. Enjoy.
I have to write it down because it’s making me absolutely crazy, and maybe this will calm my spirits.
A lot of folks don’t know the context, or assume it’s all a stunt for publicity or marketing or whatever. But it’s actually a display in solidarity. Let me explain.
To many, A Day Without Women just means A Day Without Women… in the Workforce. Which is not the case. Yes, lots of folks are staying home to protest. But that’s the front gloss of the whole thing. It’s not the whole context, or the whole purpose. In fact, only knowing that part is a great way to shut it down and consider it privileged blather.
Staying home is merely one facet in how you’re supposed to make an effect in the economy to demonstrate the power, strength, and necessity of women in our society. Recently, lots of shitty things have been said and done to women and to women in intersectional situations (women of color, homosexual women, trans women, etc.). Staying home is a luxury in this situation, and that was recognized early. They said there are many situations in which maybe you can’t stay home – single moms who need the money, you may not have the flexibility, you may have to take care of others at your job – all of these are valid reasons to go to work. Instead of skipping, wear red in solidarity. Wear red to show you understand the current plight of women and intersectional women.
They also suggest you avoid doing unpaid work (if you feel disrespected or under-appreciated at home, don’t do the laundry the dishes), and to avoid spending money. I recently read women make up between 70-80% of the spending economy – that’s a big chunk to just stop buying stuff. If you have to spend money, try to visit a small business owned by women or minorities – put your money somewhere it’ll make a difference.
It’s not just about “equal pay for equal work.” It’s about how we currently have a president who openly talked about women like a piece of meat, “grabbing them by the pussy” and “her fake tits” and calling her a “bitch.” And he was able to brush it off like “locker room talk.” How women still feel unsafe when they walk alone at night. How women of color have the lowest hire rate of any demographic. How girls still struggle to find their place in the STEM community, and despite how they try, have barely made a dent in the tech sector. How we still get marketed to with pink razors and pink pens, and have to pay taxes on feminine hygiene products because they’re a “luxury” item. Because, despite being taught from a young age to treat others as you’d like to be treated, it’s not always the case. It’s a lack of respect. And as 50% of the population, that’s not okay.
None of this is about hating men, or wanting to skip a day of work to sit around and binge Netflix. If you take off, you should go support a non-profit. Go read to under-privileged girls. Go join a walk or a protest. Sure, it’s one day, but it’s also a day that could make a point. As I read on a Facebook meme in-between a cat video and picture of a small child I’m distantly related to: “You are born in a day, die in a day, and often fall in love in one day. A day can do a lot.” It’s cheesy, but it’s true.
So many women are angry and bitter about this movement. “Why are you marching? Why are you complaining? I have a great job, worked my ass off to get here and earned everything I have. Stop being entitled and make your own way!” You may have worked very hard to get to this point. You may have overcome great obstacles to achieve your goals. But it should go without saying that in almost every version of this scenario, there’s some woman out there who would have to work a little harder, overcome just a little more, and had just one too many obstacles to get to where you’ve arrived. And maybe that obstacle was just one too many. Maybe you don’t know it, but that job you worked so damn hard for was given to you because the hiring staff preferred a white woman over a black woman. Did you earn it – sure! But maybe she deserved it, too. Or perhaps you got that internship you busted your buns for because you had a car, and the other applicant couldn’t afford one. You don’t know. And while you may have everything you’ve ever dreamed of, and think it’s all about pushing that extra inch, is it so wrong to try and be more supportive of people who would have had to push an extra mile? Is it wrong to try and fight for those things that create a level playing field?
This isn’t denouncing or undermining your achievements. You jumped a shitload of hurtles to get to your finish line. But if they had to jump a bunch of extra hurdles, doesn’t that make it less fair of a race? And if you still disagree with me, take a second. If you really think everyone should just shut up and deal with the situation they were born with and that everyone can overcome everything if they’re durable and diligent and tough enough, then answer me this: Why do you want other folks to have to jump through higher hoops than you? Is it because it benefits you? Is it because then maybe you wouldn’t get where you want to go at the speed with which you got there, or even get there at all?
That’s why folks wore red. Why folks bought milk on Tuesday and not Wednesday, and why some people stayed home. Even if they’re doing okay, even if they didn’t face a lot of struggle to get to their position, or faced a ton and overcame it seemingly unphased – there’s a bunch of women not okay. There’s a bunch of women who just couldn’t climb over that last hurtle. They’re tired. They’re too beat down. They’d run too long, and don’t have anymore push left. If you’ve finished that race, or got far ahead, there’s nothing wrong with trying to bring that finish line a little closer to them. It’s not entitlement; it’s compassion.
A Day Without Women may not have a huge difference. It may not make universal change for folks in America. But denouncing it for it’s ineffectiveness is like saying working out one day isn’t going to give you the body you’ve always wanted. No, it won’t – but striving for change every day, and doing your best to make a difference every day – that will.