Seven weeks after the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, activists organized and celebrated ‘A Day Without A Woman.’ On March 8, otherwise known as International Women’s Day, women around the world once again partook in supporting women’s rights, this time by striking.
‘A Day Without A Woman’ organizers encouraged women not to engage in both paid or unpaid labor, avoid shopping except for local small businesses and women-owned companies and to wear red, a color that represents “revolutionary love and sacrifice” along with its history in the labor movement. Men were also asked to participate by helping with caregiving and domestic chores, while also rallying for equal pay and other workplace issues.
According to a study by a left leaning think tank, the Center of American Progress, it would cost the U.S. a gross domestic product of $21 billion if all American women who work outside of the home took one day off.
Rallies were held in 10 cities including New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Ann Arbor, St. Petersburg, Raleigh, Portland and Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Rhode Island shut down its municipal court because seven clerks and a deputy court administrator stayed home from work. Schools in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland also closed for the day due to the influx of teachers who stayed home.
President Trump tweeted: “On International Women’s Day, join me in honoring the critical role of women here in America & around the world.”
Sunrun, a California based home solar power company, gave all employees the option to take the day off to participate as well as joining the Equal Pay Pledge. Female staff at the Jezebel blog striked, leaving their male colleagues to run the site for the day. Writers at The Onion Inc., including the AV Club striked alongside MTV’s social media accounts. MTV also switched the M in the logo to a W in solidarity. Director Ryan Murphy also called the day off for all the women in his company, “So in short, nothing will get done,” he tweeted.
Department of English Professor Caleb D. Spencer, Ph.D. celebrated the day as he spends every day.
“I took my daughters and son to school so my wife could work. I came home and chatted with her about the business that she runs and I contribute to as a board member (her subordinate). I picked my kids up after school so that my wife could work and I spent time playing with my youngest daughter at the park so that she would know that she matters to me and that she is gifted and she can be whatever God calls her to become,” Spencer said.
Spencer lives out feminism on a daily basis, believing that sexism undermines both men and women, especially in the realm of child-rearing.
“I am very involved in the care of my three children and delayed my academic career so that I could be a stay at home parent to my children until they were in school and while my wife was working full time,” he said.
Women’s Day was first celebrated in Feb. 1909 when 15,000 women marched the streets of New York to demand improved pay, shorter hours and voting rights, demands that are still applicable today.
Organizers fear that the current administration will regress on civil, human and reproductive rights, stressing the need to spotlight the economic power and value of women’s contributions to society in both paid and unpaid labor while also calling attention to the economic injustices of lower wages, gender discrimination, sexual harassment and job insecurities.
‘A Day Without A Woman’ also highlighted the importance for justice on all fronts such as trans and gender non-conforming people who also face issues of discrimination and marginalization.
Junior Acting for the Stage and Screen and Humanities double major Anna Lund identifies as a feminist who fully supported the organizing efforts on March 8.
“Feminism is all about inclusivity, but it’s so easy to choose a watered-down version of feminism that doesn’t include transgender women, people of color, etc. The first step to pursuing feminism on a daily basis should be to stay informed and tolerant of all people,” Lund said.
Because of the difficulty in tallying the direct participation and the impact of this strike, many criticized ‘A Day Without A Woman.’
“In order to work, a general strike has to actually stop something from functioning. Anywhere it hasn’t done that can’t be counted as a success,” Todd Gitlin, former president of Students for a Democratic Society, said.
However, Linda Sarsour, co-chairwoman of the event, countered the claim by clarifying the movement’s purpose.
“The object for us isn’t that we hope to shut the whole economy down. We see this as an opportunity to introduce women to different tactics of activism,” Sarsour said.
Another concern that critics voiced was the discrepancy between women of privilege who could afford a day off and women who could lose their jobs by participating in the strike, bringing to light an intersectional lens of feminism that acknowledges “how women’s overlapping identities, including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.”
‘A Day Without A Woman’ organizers addressed this by offering a wide array of methods by which women could express their support.
“Many women in our most vulnerable communities will not have the ability to join the strike due to economic insecurity. We strike for them,” organizers said on their website.
Department of English professor Sarah Adams, Ph.D. believes that the next wave of feminism is due.
“We can’t get complacent. We can’t ever believe that our rights can’t be taken away because they can. Governments fall, countries crumble, wars happen. The line between a democratic country and a dictatorship is not inviolable and history does not move only in one direction,” Adams said.