March 8 marked International Women’s Day, a day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. While I wore red in solidarity for those women who may not have equal pay to those of men, those women who are forced to accept stereotypical gender roles in their homes, those women who are victims of sex trafficking, there’s one thing I couldn’t get myself to do.
Wednesday was also claimed to be A Day Without a Woman by the group behind the Women’s March. On this day, women were encouraged to take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor. But to me, that’s just not right, and here’s why.
1. I don’t have anything to prove by skipping my responsibilities.
I don’t want my niece, God sister, or any other girl who may be looking up to me to think that it’s okay to skip out on responsibilities just because I feel like it. Feeling “oppressed” isn’t a valid excuse to miss the exam I had to take in my business capstone course, to not complete the work I had due at my internship, or not show up to the fundraiser that one of my student organizations was holding. That’s called being irresponsible and not having my priorities straight.
2. Not every woman can afford to skip work.
Only the wealthy, elite women can afford to skip out on work and sit at home. This is a privilege that not every woman has, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Blog, mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today. Well, how about those women who couldn’t afford to miss work but had to so that they could watch their children because 300 staff members in Alexandria County called off work and school was cancelled? How can this be empowering for women if not all women can participate in this and benefit from it?
3. Not showing up for our responsibilities shows others that they can find ways to go on with the day without women.
How does not showing up show how powerful women are? It doesn’t. It teaches people how to deal with us being gone for a day. It shows that companies and organizations don’t really need us and that we’re replaceable. In a similar event, immigrant workers celebrated A Day Without an Immigrant by taking the day off. However, 100 workers were reportedly fired from their jobs. Isn’t that the exact opposite of what we want?
You know what I can do if I feel oppressed or disadvantaged? Certainly not play the victim card, but stand up for myself if someone says or does something sexist. I can work hard to prove that I am just as capable as the man next to me. I can encourage and teach other women how to do this too. Let’s be women empowering other women.