Drawing on the momentum of the Women’s March, another movement is taking place today, International Women’s Day. A Day Without a Woman is going down today to “recognize the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.”
The movement aims to show the value of women in our society by asking women to do one or all of these:
- Take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
- Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
- Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman
Iceland did something similar in 1975, when 90% of women walked out of their homes and jobs to march. The men scrambled to fill in, and the country’s eyes were opened when it realized women’s contributions were vital to society. (Duh.) They elected their first female president five years later, and the country has since been called the “world’s most feminist country.” I don’t think our Day Without a Woman will gain as much momentum, but I do have high hopes.
I Personally Don’t Need A Day Without a Woman — But Wait, There’s More
I’ve been thinking about how to participate in this movement in a way that makes a difference — and in a way that makes sense to me. And as I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that my life and status are exactly where I want them. I don’t need A Day Without a Woman.
And that’s exactly why it needs to happen.
I own my own business in which I set my own hours and determine my own wages. I am limited only by my own levels of ambition, determination, and willingness to work. If I stopped working today, it would hurt me. Since none of my clients realize or care when I work, taking the day off today would only set my own schedule back and leave me scrambling.
I am married to a man who proudly calls himself a feminist. He has always believed in fairness and equality, and he is willing to listen to women who’s stories demonstrate our society isn’t there yet. I don’t need to walk out to prove to him how much I work. He already knows. He also shares in the labor of our home and family — not because I insist, but because it is his home and family too. Is our division of labor perfect? Not always. But we always work towards fairness.
How Did I Get So Lucky?
This is the question I’ve been asking myself ever since A Day Without a Woman was announced. How did I get to a place where I personally don’t need to stop working to show how valuable I am? There are two factors I can clearly see:
Jesus Christ: Now, I know it may seem a little bit out there to suddenly start talking about Jesus. But He is the reason I have an equal marriage, an education, and the chance to work in the way I want. He is the reason I feel like I can stand on my soapbox and declare that women should be treated equally.
He showed us that women are equal to men when He wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon of shaming a woman for sexual sin, when He healed a woman who was considered by society as too “unclean” to touch, when He said that gaining knowledge was a worthy pursuit for a woman — and even more worthy than cooking and cleaning. Some of his closest disciples and followers were women, and a woman was the first to see Him after His resurrection.
Many people believe that religious women are oppressed in their families. But I have found that when the gospel of Jesus Christ is actually lived — not just checked off in neat, little boxes — that women are treated as equals. That’s how it’s been in my marriage, anyway. My husband was born kind and good and fair. And His love for Jesus has only made him kinder and fairer. It has never been a stretch for him to see me as equal.
And the more I learn and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more worthy I know I am. And the more confident I feel in declaring equality of the sexes.
Feminism: From Abigail Adams’ charge to her husband to “Remember the ladies,” to Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s bold efforts in voting rights, to Margaret Sanger’s push for birth control to countless other marchers, fighters, writers, speakers, demonstrators, activists, and more, feminist women have profoundly improved my life.
Not only can I vote, but I can say what I want to say — when I want to say it. I can plan my family, I can work where and how I want, and I can have as much education as I darn well please. I don’t have to squeeze myself into anybody else’s box.
I know I don’t even understand how lucky I am; how much of a debt I owe to our foremothers in feminism. They even paved the way for women to scoff at feminism and declare they don’t need it. Basically, they made it possible for women to do what they want.
But I AM Lucky — And That’s Why We Still Need A Day Without a Woman
But feminism isn’t done. Even though I have equality in my home and the freedom to live my life the way I want, I am not a representation of every woman in this nation.
As I realized I personally have benefited from feminism so well that I don’t need to prove anything to my husband, and as I realized I’ve created my own job without employers to tell me what to do, I realized I only got to this place because I have more opportunity than others.
Coming from a middle class family, I always knew I would go to college. I always knew I could work. I received quality education in an Honors program at a good high school, where I read books that made me think about issues in our world — and where good teachers helped me think about things I hadn’t personally experienced.
I always had enough food to eat, and it was easy to find a job in high school. My parents either let me borrow their car, or drove me to work. I only ever had to rely on public transportation in college, and it was easy to navigate. My parents paid for my college tuition, and let me live at home in the summers so I could work and save money to pay for rent and food during the school year.
As an adult, I’ve had major financial challenges, but I knew I would solve them because I had been taught how all along the way. When I wanted to start my own business, I knew where to go to find information and I had people to talk to. I have internet access and a spare bedroom with a desk so I can do my work in peace.
I’ve always had access to quality health care, affording my family and myself a peace of mind we don’t even realize we have.
Ladies and gents… feminism has benefited me because I am middle class.
I have been able to seize hold of every good opportunity that feminism has created because I was born in a place and time that affords me that freedom.
But It Isn’t That Way for Everyone
But there are countless women who can’t grab hold of the benefits that have been created for us. Countless women are held back because they don’t have access to medical care, quality education, reliable transportation, and more.
And the attitudes and policies in our nation aren’t helping them. Many women are facing discrimination in jobs they can’t afford to leave, are suffering sexual assault because people won’t believe them if they come forward, are unhealthier than they need to be because they don’t have quality medical care, and so much more.
I personally don’t need A Day Without a Woman. And that’s because a lot of people already did the hard work for me. Can you imagine if they hadn’t? Hallelujah for feminism!
Even though I don’t need to prove anything, our nation still needs A Day Without a Woman. We need feminism. Those of us who are living comfortably are responsible for stepping outside our bubbles and lifting those who are limited.
And even though I have the life I want, I still encounter sexism directed at me and my daughters on the regular. The thing is, though, I am in a position to stand up to it. And I have the confidence to do so because of the many strong women who have gone before me.
Our president is rapidly destroying protections for poor women (and not-so-poor women) in a variety of ways. We need to open our eyes, and keep the movement going.
I’m so lucky I don’t need to prove my value to my husband or those with whom I work. And I can thank feminism and Jesus Christ for that. The work has been done for me, and I am reaping the benefits.
And that’s exactly why the movement needs to continue.
So today, I wear red. It’s a small effort. But I stand in solidarity with the women of the United States who deserve more. I also stand in solidarity against a sexist president who has demonstrated he does not respect me or any of the women in this country.
I wear red in protest. I wear red in unity.
And I write.
I won’t let the fight stop with me.