EVERY WOMAN I know is exhausted.
Exhausted with political assaults on her body, touching up her roots and finding a pair of jeans that don’t gap at the waist. Bone-ass tired of mansplaining, misogyny and daycare centers that close too early. Battle-weary of centuries-long fights for equal pay, fair representation and sexual freedom.
As a cisgender, hetero breeder type, I am also fatigued that wifedom and motherhood include the hidden sub-roles of short order cook, maid, chauffeur, sexy beast, knot untier, booger wiper, only person who understands how to load a dishwasher to peak efficiency, refrigerator inventory specialist, walking family calendar and guinea pig whisperer.
I try to shoulder it all with gratitude, but resentment can grow like black mold on a half-eaten burrito (*actual gross thing I found under an abandoned art project last week.)
It is sometimes a downright thankless gig being the woman of the house, and I often temper my ennui by answering inane questions like “When is Cousin Landon’s bar mitzvah again?” and “Is there any more mustard?” with “Huh, I dunno. Let me check my vagina.”
At least my husband cooks and bleach-bombs the bathroom on occasion; I can’t even begin to imagine how beat my single mom sisters must be. That goes exponential for the women of color who statistically manage to do more with far less and transwomen who can’t pee in a public bathroom without a freaking hassle.
So when the idea of a women’s strike was floated after January’s historic demonstrations, I was all, hells yeah, bring on the margaritas and mani-pedis. Yet A Day Without a Woman ought to be far more meaningful than an aimless day of leisure, no matter how deserved.
This Wednesday, March 8, in conjunction with International Women’s Day, the organizers who facilitated the momentous Women’s March on Washington have called for a united action to bring attention to the value of women—our unrecognized labor, our creative contributions and our hard-earned, 79-cents-to-every-one-a man-earns-dollars—by way of our absence.
Those with cushy corporate gigs may feign the croup and take one of those coveted “sick days” I’ve heard so much about. Stay-at-home moms might simply ignore their chores, meeting the usual demand for dinner with a coupon for pizza and a blank stare.
The rest of us who can’t ditch work or let the dishes pile up without twitching are encouraged to wear red in solidarity and patronize woman-run businesses as feasible. That goes for the menfolk, too.
Locally, lady camaraderie will abound at Johnson Square, where reps from woman-supportive organizations will gather starting at noon, including The Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, Trans Empowerment, Georgia WIN List, Moms Demand Action, Agape Empowerment Ministries. The menstrual angels of Project Period will be collecting tampons and toiletries for the homeless, and the day will conclude with a good old-fashioned rally at 5pm (margaritas afterwards are optional.)
Solidarity and inclusiveness in mind, the WMOW folk recognize that not every woman—probably not even most—have the ability to take the day off, and local organizers Amanda Hollowell and Coco Papy offer even more points of entry.
“There is no one way to participate in the day,” reiterates Hollowell. “You can donate to or volunteer with grassroots causes, or just help another woman out, offer to pick up her kids or make her life easier somehow.”
I’ll also wager that buying a ticket to Collective Face’s production of 9-to-5 the Musical also counts with its enduring themes of glass ceilings and sexual harassment in the workplace, not to mention three awesome female leads.
The most important point of the day is to make the work of women visible. And the way we do that in these times is to hashtag the bejeezus out of it: Whether you’re flipping burgers or fixing helicopters or wiping baby tushies or washing the feet of the poor, snap a pic and tag it with #withoutwomenSAV and #Savannahwomen so we can see you.
Not only does this illuminate the faces behind the work the world cannot do without, it illustrates that women have power together, despite significant gaps in culture and conversation. Some of those gaps are cultural, and the effort of WMOW movement to include and engage women of color continues.
Mostly, though, when it comes to women, the disparity is about poor and rich. Women make up more than 70 percent of the world’s poverty, and in many countries girls are subject to infanticide and child marriage because their families see them as a financial burden.
In America, that pesky wage divide for African American and Latin women is even greater than for white women —64 and 54 cents on the dollar, respectively.
Yet collectively, women represent the most powerful economic influence around the globe, paying for over 83 percent of consumer purchases. According to a new study this week by UGA’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, minorities are the fastest growing sector of spending, forecasted in the trillions. So be invigorated that even if our work feels invisible, our dollars are not, so let’s make it rain wisely.
A Day Without A Woman is also a chance to examine the myriad challenges at hand that affect women and the people who love them, from the repercussions of repealing the ACA to the decimation of public education. It’s overwhelming, for sure, and the only way to tackle it all is to unite and conquer.
“It’s too much for one person to take on,” reminds Hollowell. “The biggest issue is that we need to learn how to form community.”
Now, I’m fully aware that you may be reading this too late for your own personal revolt. The good news is that even if you missed the strike on Wednesday, the resistance persists.
The celebration of our foremothers continues all March long with Women’s History Month, with more hidden figures emerging every day. We can keep registering our neighbors to vote, learning more about policy and advocating for a more egalitarian, civil society.
And it’s always a fine time to tell your mother, sister, daughter, co-worker, neighbor or friend that you see her labor, and if you could, you’d pay her quadruple for it, but instead you’re going to treat her to a pedicure.
The fight for equality goes on and on, and so shall we. In the meantime, this working mama sees all you other women out there busting your booties, and by the power vested in me by my own damn self, I hereby give you permission to take a nap.