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This is the next large scale political push focusing on women (hopefully intersectional and includes disabled women), is scheduled for March 8, 2017. That’s also International Women’s Day which hasn’t meant squat here in the United States. When I was in Poland at least we had a girls’ night out for beer, pizza, and dancing. I’m not quite sure what the significance of a Wednesday is. It might be a date noted in some history books, but it’s not “celebrated” like Presidents’ Day or even the completely-out-of-the-zeitgeist Columbus Day. I mean, March 8th is also the date that a woman, Josephine Cochrane, invented the dishwasher. I guess we can all celebrate that and protest that men should also do the dishes.
If you dig deeper, there’s further history in what freedom and equality mean. It’s alleged that Thomas Paine published an anonymous piece, “African Slavery in America” which was the first known article calling for abolition in 1775. Two hundred years later, French sex workers went on strike for eight days ending June 10, 1975. In more recent years, Chinese workers in sweatshops went on strike from their jobs of bringing top brand sneakers to market.
When I was in high school, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on when the Teamsters went on strike. All I knew was that my parents were worried about money and things in the household changed drastically. With little information, all I had to go on was stress and the only knowledge that at least the Teamsters have a fund for “strike pay.” The family would be getting something like two-thirds of what my father’s income was. I never heard of any of other group having “strike pay” – certainly not groups primarily staffed by women. Do you really think the players of the NHL worried when they went on strike? Not like when a woman takes a day off and those players missed an entire season.
This brings me to talk about why I have concern about the declared A Day Without a Woman. Women are generally in lower paying positions even at the PhD level. Women in service work or temp work like I’ve done, don’t have the same privileges. A Day Without a Woman means those women have to use up a vacation day IF they are fortunate to even have one. Part-time and freelance workers don’t have them. Temps don’t have them. Sex workers don’t have them. A lot of the work force does not have that privilege to take to the street on a Wednesday in Washington D.C. People are fighting all over for $15/hour which I have to be honest, is not a livable wage in New York, New Jersey or anywhere in the mid-Atlantic.
The Facebook page for the Women’s March which is organizing this latest event, doesn’t make the goal any clearer:
In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer A Day Without A Woman. We ask: do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities? Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression? Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?
According to Bustle, this strike will be “A powerful follow-up to the Women’s March.” There isn’t any focus any other than the vague desire to bring back democracy. There’s reference to the Yemeni strikes of many bodega and business owners which followed Trump’s egregiously unresearched attack killing innocent people. There are protests for the Muslim Travel Ban and the Immigration Deportation. There are a lot of splintered protests because of all the problems. I’m a stickler for events to have a name/branding that makes sense and for them to have a clear mission in mind, like Black Lives Matter. So far, from what I’ve read, this Women’s Strike is unorganized and undefined. They want to address environment, gender equity, and community morale all in one event?
My feeling about this declared strike is that it’s a strike for women of privilege and not really a movement that will show the country’s men how much work women do. Women who don’t show up to their jobs risk being docked pay or getting fired because we are so easily replaceable in this workforce.
Whether a “strike” is scheduled for a Wednesday or a Saturday, women like me who sit at a desk trying to produce content will still be at our desks trying to produce content. It also means the same thing for women who work retail or in schools or in emergency services. You can’t just take off, especially not if you have male superiors who let you know how disposable you are.