This event is a struggle for many. We want to support the ongoing resistance connected to the March for women in January, but taking a day out of work, with or without pay, is difficult for many women. I felt it was important for the Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality, at the very least, to sponsor an event for that day; to provide opportunities for people to participate whether they were coming to work or not, whether they were skipping classes or not. We decided to make buttons,
to hold a walk/run, organized by a professor who runs marathons, and to screen Hidden Figures for anyone who wanted to take a long lunch as a partial strike.
Of the 123 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 72 million, or 58.6 percent, were labor force participants—working or looking for work. The median weekly earnings of women who were full-time wage and salary workers were $669, or 81 percent of men’s $824. When comparing the median weekly earnings of persons aged 16 to 24, young women earned 95 percent of what young men earned ($422 and $443, respectively).(Women’s Bureau)
I have the privilege to strike, just as the Suffragettes had the privilege to push the President and the Congress for the right to vote. Privilege must be used in the service for good. I strike for women who cannot. I strike for immigrants. I strike for the bodies of women continually up for grabs by unchecked sexual violence and limited by their access to reproductive choices. I strike for union protection, which I have. I strike because black lives matter and the six trans women murdered this year already, who were all women of color.
I know this type of activism and organizing is messy. Having privilege and carrying deeply about social justice will always be messy. The struggle will continue whether anyone cares that I am at work or not. This New Yorker article explores this mess.
I emailed the head of our Human Resources Department, to let her know, we were promoting the strike as our International Women’s Day event. She offered to “get out ahead of it” and encourage folks to allow their woman identified staff to take a personal or vacation day. That act alone was a brave step for my institution.
In typical female fashion I have my day already planned out. I will go to my woman owned gym and work out. I will meet my best friend for mani’s/pedi’s and lunch. I will go to my woman owned hair salon for a color and a cut (this was already on my schedule). Then I will come home and help my husband prepare dinner.
But throughout the day, I will talk to people about what I am doing and why. I will wear my red t-shirt that says “Stop the War on Women.” I will not shop. I will spend time thanking the women who have come before me, who have guided me, who have mentored me, and who have been my friends.
Happy International Women’s Day! #beboldforchange