Yesterday, as I'm sure everyone knows by now, was International Woman's Day. It was a special day used to celebrate fantastic, loving, courageous, and life-changing women across the world (not that every day shouldn't be spent celebrating those women, just like showing love for someone shouldn't be only on Valentine's Day, but I digress).
This year, International Woman's Day was given special meaning with the added action of "A Day Without a Woman," a strike event organized by the Women's March team. I took the day off from work yesterday, did not make any purchases, contacted my elected officials on the importance of women's issues, and wore red (even if my cats were the only ones who saw my shirt). As a white, educated, heterosexual female without kids, I realized that I was taking advantage of my privilege in doing so. I was able to take the day off using paid personal time, and that did not come without a large amount of guilt and second guessing on my part. I wrestled with this throughout the day and had the following thoughts:
- I'm taking the day off of work to support women's rights and show how important women are in the work place.
- That is incredibly privileged on my part, and there are many women who are not in the same position to be able to take this type of action.
- I will make today a day of self-fulfillment. Aside from doing my duty as a citizen to share my thoughts with my elected officials, I will listen to music written and sung only by female artists, I will read more of "Hidden Figures" by Margo Lee Shetterly (which is an amazing depiction of strong women in SCIENCE!), and I will take time to create art.
- I wonder how many women took the day off from work at my job today? How many came to work but wore red? Did any men I work with also wear red?
- I feel uncomfortable that I took the day, even though the cause is a worthy one. I am a project manager, and it is not exactly a life-or-death job. I am not a nurse, doctor, or caregiver where my job is necessary for others to live or function. Yet things still need to be done, papers need to be pushed, and deadlines continuously approach.
- But that was the point of today. To show that women make up an enormous part of the workforce and society and our wants and needs should not be set as secondary to those of our male counterparts.
- How do any of the women who cannot take off from work feel about today? Are they at work to show how important women are in the workforce and to show their support that way? How are the women working at the diner up the street feeling about today? How do small business owners who are women see the protests and marches in the street? What about the women who didn't know about A Day Without a Woman, or those who didn't care? How do they feel about what is happening?
- Is today really a day only for privileged women? I hope it isn't. I hope for the future of women's rights that it isn't.
- I am showing my support for women's rights in the best way in which I am able.
My privilege hit me pretty hard yesterday. What I gained from wrestling with it and trying not to let it dampen my spirits on what was a day of pride for so many is that everyone needs to be able to do what they can, when they can to make a stand. I hope that the women who did not participate yesterday, either because they could not or would not, know that. The important thing to remember is that everyone has the power to change the world in their own way.