Like a lot of people, for the past few weeks I’ve seen a ton of my friends post about A Day Without A Woman 2017. And, like many of them, I’ve been inspired by the concept behind the movement. My initial take was, “Oh hell yeah. So you want to keep denying us fundamental human rights and having a bunch of dudes make decisions on our behalf? Cool. Here’s what the world would be like if you kept doing that and here’s why you need us—even though it’s depressing as hell we have to show you that.”
Without a doubt, the huge success of the Women’s March on Washington, along with the success of similar marches around the world, helped send a united message that women are not only exhausted and intolerant of Congress’s and the new administration’s policies, but also fed up with generations of attacks on women’s bodies, our lives and our overall safety—and lack of equality—around the world.
The Day Without A Woman campaign, taking place on International Women’s Day, asks women to take off the day from work, paid or unpaid, or to show support in other ways if their standards of living, lifestyles or occupations don’t allow them to skip work. Those alternative signs of support, as organizers suggest, include everything from only shopping at small and minority-owned businesses to wearing red in solidarity. Male allies have been encouraged to take care of their own children (LOL; enjoy your gold-star cookies, Guys Who Will Only Do This On This One Freaking Day), do housework (LOL again) or encourage workplace discussions about flexible scheduling and paid family leave. Again, that stuff could—and should—happen all the time, any time, but it’s a great way to start these practices, so fine.
Before you can tell women to lean in, we have to acknowledge that certain races and sexualities have to lean in far harder.
The real tricky part of this well-intentioned and overall incredible concept relates to who this blanket idea really affects. While reading all the fine print and bullet points for the other ways women can join the movement is exciting as hell—because truly anyone can participate—the severely boiled down message of “DON’T WORK TODAY SO YOU CAN PROTEST AND BE A GOOD FEMINIST AND WOMAN! YAY!” I’ve seen pop up on social media is classist as fuck on so many levels.
We often only hear the absolutely depressing stat that women earn 78 cents to every dollar a man makes, but that “women” needs to be preceded by the word white or frankly, it’s bullshit. While the wage gap between white men and white women is very real, which means white women are already giving up what relatively little money they earn in order to stand up for their endangered human rights, women of color and LGBTQ women will pay a notably larger price if they choose to not work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while Asian American women make 90 cents to a white man’s dollar, American Indian/Alaskan women make only 59 cents, Pacific Islander women make only 65 cents, African American women make only 64 cents, and, Jesus fucking Christ, Hispanic/Latino women make 54 fucking cents. FIFTY-FOUR CENTS! On top of that, a New York University study found that females with “LGBT indicators” on a job application are 30 percent less likely to get a phone call from an employer interested in hiring them.
So let’s say you have a Latino woman with “LGBT indicators” on her job application (I’m going to assume that means her résumé was wearing a flannel button-down, which is actually a pretty cute detail for which she should be rewarded because, c'mon, how did she do that? So cute!). In theory, this woman is already 30 percent less likely to get a call that, in the end, would lead to her getting her only 54 cents to a white dude’s dollar. And then today, via many of the generalized social media posts about A Day Without A Woman, we’re going to make such women feel like they’re not a part of a movement that absolutely affects them, but doesn’t absolutely include them, because they aren’t financially solvent or secure enough to take the day off? Fuck that.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so down with this concept and what the organizers are intending to demonstrate and am very much acknowledging that any woman still has the option to wear red or support women-owned or minority-run businesses—but these alternatives haven’t been mentioned in most of the posts in my Instagram feed. Instead, I mostly see, “I’m taking off work tomorrow, so should you!”
So for those people sending out that message alone, before you tell all women to “lean in” today, we first have to start acknowledging that certain races and sexualities have to lean in far harder and with far more potential negative consequences if they do.