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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What a Day without Me Would Look Like: a Reflection on "A Day Without a Woman"


Poop. A lot of poop. Stuck to small children. Hungry mouths. Laundry piling up. Crumbs. And, I mean crumbs everywhere (why did we get that shag carpet again??). Crying. If you thought the poop was bad imagine the crying. But, wait. No, I take it back. None of that. You know why? Because, I have a partner who helps me and if I need a day off, I'm going to get it and that partner is going to pick up the slack. In fact, he often changes those poopy diapers and vacuums up the crumbs covering every surface of our house (again why the shag?). So, then: What does a day without me look like? I mean my family would certainly miss me and I'm doubting any school work (or much laundry) would get done. But, I feel like it would be a day very much like any other day. If my partner in crime couldn't get off work then I suppose it would look like child neglect, so I think I won't be taking a day off because I kinda (really) like my kids AND my job. My point is, if someone takes off a day, they're leaving someone else to pick up the slack. Because, someone has to change the dirty diapers whether we're trying to make a point or not. Maybe you're sitting there saying "well, you don't have a 'real' job so they're not talking about you anyway." Maybe you're right.



As I'm seeing all these posts scroll across the news feed about Alexandria City schools closing and women standing in solidarity by skipping work, I have to wonder, what is going on? Are women all of a sudden being deprived of something that they had received in abundance the last eight years? Has the rate of rape and gender discrimination gone up? Is the glass ceiling rising? Is the pay gap between men and women suddenly widening since November when these causes suddenly seemed to pop up? And, I have to ask where is all this coming from? What did Obama do in office for the last eight years that helped all these things? That is a genuine question. Because, I'm worried that I'm missing something. It seems to me that pay inequality didn't suddenly change overnight just because Trump was sworn into office. Yet, that's when all the outrage began. 

I have to ask, is this really about gender discrimination, sexual crimes, and harassment in the work place? If, so what does staying home from work accomplish? I was discussing it this morning with a Millenial woman and she pointed out, "If I was being harassed at work, I wouldn't strike, I just wouldn't work there!" She has a point. And, you know, when I was younger, I had a boss who was very disrespectful to his employees. One day, I got sick of being berated for a simple mistake or misunderstanding and it was the very last straw. I marched into his office and I told him exactly what I thought of the way he treated people (respectfully- I believe my direct words were "I don't like the way you treat people."). And, you know what he said to me? "That's the real world." I said something about how it wasn't my real world and I quit. 

Back to the Women's Day Off; I went to Facebook to see what others were thinking. Now I have a lot of likeminded friends so this isn't the whole picture by any stretch but I do like to encourage diverse opinions and logical thinking. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what this day even is- many many people referenced teachers. Why? Because that seems to be the largest group that are participating. I just don't see that skipping work is accomplishing a greater good. And, isn't that the point of strikes or protests? After discussing it with people on both sides of the issue, I'm still confused. As far as I can tell, no one I know is openly 100% supportive of the idea for the same reason that I can't figure any of this out: they don't know what staying home from work on one day of the year is going to accomplish for women in America. Raising awareness? Maybe. But, again for what? Several of my friends (one a teacher) pointed out that their pay at their particular workplace is equal to that of a man with the same position and experience. Surely, this is not the case everywhere and I also heard vague references of percentages of pay inequality but I'll be honest, I haven't done enough research to know if those numbers are right and if they take into account all the variables (time in the workforce, experience, any employment gap etc). I'll give you that but as one facebook user said "since we make 70 cents to a man's dollar...we can't afford to miss work." So, does any of this really make sense? Who is this "strike" benefitting and who is it hurting?

It's not that I have a problem with people choosing to stay home any day of the year for whatever reason they see fit. I basically invented the mental health day excuse. But, what is to be accomplished by shirking your duties for a cause that is at best muddled. My real question here is do you really feel undervalued as a woman in the USA? I never have. But, maybe that's because I believe that men and women aren't equal. Men aren't better than women. Women aren't better than men. Instead, they fill in the blanks in each other's natures. What talents and abilities each man and woman have depends on their individuality as a person as much as it does with their gender. Undeniably, women can do some things men can't and vice versa. I see some places that women do carry a heavy burden. Expected to do it all: work, mother, care for the home. But, I see this as a consequence of the feminist movement itself. I whole heartedly agree that women should have opportunities in the workplace equal to men. But, you can't do it all. No one can. And, we do a disservice when we expect ourselves to just because we're women.

This statement by Alex Powers (gasp a man, I know, but even men can make good points- sometimes anyway) sums it up pretty well. I'll leave you with his response to my question: "What do you think A Day without a Woman will accomplish?"
"Lots of unintended consequences and counterproductive effects. Many working women who wanted to work will have to take off tomorrow to watch their kids who are off from school from teacher truancy. It will likely be disproportionately women affected this way so one group of women will be picking up the slack for another group. Not truly a day without all women. And many other women will continue to work tomorrow and society will continue to function better than if all women really did no work all day. This means the effect felt of this protest will have less heft to its punch. Basically society will say (unfairly): 'This is what 'a day without women' really feels like? [No Big Deal].'"

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The point is that men and women aren't treated equally when doing equal work. There are verifiable statistics to back this up. It's not about choosing complementary roles or filling the gaps, it is about the fact that we have a new president who has consistently sexually harassed women which will make more men think that they can, too. I'm a physician and can't tell you the number of times I'm asked to take notes in a staff meeting because I'm the only women there. I'm a physician! I have terrible handwriting. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but it's all the little details that add up to discrimination. My stay-at-home-father for 14 years husband also faced discrimination when re-entering the workplace because he had chosen to stay home and raise our kids, which is also a by-product of devaluing the "jobs" we feel are feminine/motherly/matronly. Equal pay for equal work, the option for one parent to take time off and not be penalized, maternity and paternity leave, equal opportunities for women in STEM fields, and the right to go to work and not be harassed due to one's gender... those are the fights that feminists fight and there are many others. I'm almost to retirement age, but I can tell you that the current culture in the workplace hasn't felt this anti-woman since the 80s.

Jamie said...

Wouldn't the fact that your husband faced discrimination prove that some of the gender inequality stems from the natural roles women have (mother, child reared)? I still have not seen concrete examples of discrimination and inequality in society or the workplace. The note taking example is fair, but, do you take the notes? I would say "does someone else want to do it, my handwriting is not the best?" Because, how do you know that they're only choosing you to take the notes because you're a woman- is that what they said or indicated? And, by not saying anything, aren't you perpetuating gender discrimination? I need concrete instances of how women are worse off now than they were 8 years ago. Not vague statements.

Also, what do you think of how Bill Clinton treated women? Or JFK? I agree that Trump's leaked conversation was pretty inappropriate. I wonder if you've ever said anything crass in private that you didn't expect to be publicized and would be embarassed if it were? I'd also like concrete documentation that Trump has supported women less personally throughout his career and in his cabinet appointments. I'm not super pro-Trump but come on. Let's be honest. This is about planned parenthood, the life issue, and grown women throwing temper tantrums because their candidate didn't get elected. Plain and simple. And, until anyone can prove otherwise with concrete evidence proves otherwise, that's what I'll continue to believe.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your comment about "natural" roles in regards to my husband's discrimination; I feel it is because society devalues all roles that it sees as feminine - mother, teacher, nurse, etc. And, of course I do not take the notes! I ask the asker (last time a 30-something male fellow) why he asked me to do it, and he apologized for assuming I would because I am female. That way, he hopefully won't have the knee-jerk reaction to ask the female next time. I was certainly not a fan of Bill Clinton ( and I protested at the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings) and am not old enough to know much about JFK. I can assure you that I've never said anything along the lines of how I like to grab women by the pussy or men by the balls in any conversation, public or private. And you better believe I wouldn't be married to a man who would say such things to other men. He's just as disgusted as I am. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found a wage gap in every profession except store clerks. My husband, the CPA, quit a firm because he (you know, as an accountant) figured out that they were female associates less than the male ones. It's not just the last 8 years - it's just getting more attention now due to the actions of 45.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

There will always be discrimination in life for all kinds of reasons because of greed (hire illegals because you can pay them less and they can't complain), rash judgment (moms with kids or older workers will be out sick more, etc.), and other attitudes that work against certain types of individuals.

I'm not justifying it and certainly we should work for a more just workplace. But as long as there is sin in the world (and I don't see any evidence it's decreasing) injustice will be part of life.

One comment on Clarence Thomas, I think Anita Hill was a liar. Did you see the panel of women who came in to speak up for Clarence Thomas? The Democrats were looking for a way to "bork" Thomas because of his beliefs. Anita Hill thought she could get away with a stab in the dark to take him down. She wanted her testimony to be anonymous. There was never any proof except her word against his. If there were any fire behind the smoke it would have come out by now. It is a real illustration of discrimination that the Black History Museum has an exhibit on Anita Hill and completely ignores Thomas.