Our Editor-in-Chief ponders the Women’s Strike, how it can impact the national conversation regarding equal rights for all, and how privilege might come into play.
In January, I penned a blog post titled Why I March, which was one of the easiest pieces I’ve ever written. To me, it was obvious why I would be marching in the Women’s March and supporting all the women in my life and in our country as we continue to strive for the equality that consistently seems just out of reach. I would be protesting the installment of a racist, misogynist, angry, bigot into the White House. It was very simple.
And, when I first heard about the Women’s Strike, that seemed simple, too. I can close my computer for the day, wear red, and tell my husband that he is in charge of all household duties as they pertain to feeding, clothing, and shuttling the children. My husband is a man with an executive level job; he can take the day off to have my back.
No work, no parenting responsibilities, no stress. I’ll only spend money at a women-owned business (which is probably a spa, clothing boutique or bookstore). I’ll proudly tool around Philadelphia unfettered, wearing red. It’ll be fantastic and empowering! And then, I realized I was treating the Women’s Strike like Mother’s Day in March. Which is quite literally beside the point.
First, let’s acknowledge that the fact I can even consider going on strike on March 8 is an illustration of my relative privilege as a happily married, upper middle class white woman. If I strike, I won’t lose my job, provoke my husband, or have my paycheck docked. If I strike, my children will still be clothed, fed, shuttled to school, and put to bed by a loving parent. If I strike, I will experience no financial, physical or emotional repercussions.
So, what statement am I making and who am I making it for? How does my participation here have a positive impact? How does my particular brand of a #DayWithoutAWoman serve all women?
The short answer? I have no idea. I don’t even know if it does.
But, here’s what I do know. If we do nothing, we change nothing. If we do nothing, we learn nothing. Women will continue to earn 80 cents on the dollar (at best) than their male counterparts. Men will still be praised for “babysitting” their own children while women are judged for spending a Saturday alone without their kids. Women’s reproductive rights will continue to be peeled away by old white men who pretend to hold “Christian values.” Women will still only represent roughly 20% of the U.S. Congress while representing more than 50% of our population.
So, tomorrow, March 8, on International Women’s Day, I will opt out of as much paid and unpaid work as possible. I will wear red. I will refrain from shopping or only shop at female-owned businesses. I will contact my elected officials about reproductive health and wage equity. And, I will also volunteer at my kids’ school, give care packages and thank you cards to all the female crossing guards in my neighborhood, and generally try to be a good, progressive citizen in the country I love that feels increasingly in crisis. It’s the least I can do.
Mollie Michel is a South Philly resident and a Philadelphia public school parent. A recovering non-profit professional, Mollie is also an experienced birth doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, and the mom of two awesome girls and a sweet pit bull named Princess Cleopatra. In her spare time, she is usually trying to figure out how Pinterest works, training for a(nother) half-marathon with her dog at her side, or simply trying to keep up with her increasingly wily daughters.