Skip to content

Lean in? Take off? Just Another Day.

9 months ago

855 words

Photo: The best kind of playground is the playground we get all to ourselves.  Minor and I got to do whatever we wanted without any interference from other kiddos. Mostly this meant that Minor could be brave and try new things without an audience: so we practiced pumping on the swing, climbing a ladder that curves as you climb up, and taking on the giant rope climb. Look how far he got!

 

I am a woman who couldn’t go on strike today. I understand the purpose of the strike, but I also understand the direct harm my striking would do to my household, punishing without teaching.

Therefore, I chose to work for a woman-owned company this morning. I took my son to lunch at a woman of color-owned cafe. I purchased knitting needles for a lovely young woman at a woman-owned yarn shop. When I’m done writing this post, I’m going to purchase my sister an awesome Zaria pin at this Black Woman-owned business.

And no, I didn’t wear red. I wore black today. It isn’t because I’m not in solidarity with my sisters of other races, it’s just that I recognize that all of the coverage of the Day Without Women and the major influence of the day were born from the fact that certain women who had the ability to stayed home today or marched today. The rest of us didn’t have the luxury. I wore Black in recognition of our invisibility today, yesterday and tomorrow. You want a revolution? I want a revelation, Sister-Comrades.

I think there is more power in hitting the streets, choosing carefully where to we spend our money and knowing the names of the women who keep our communities running. I’m all about frequently showing up, learning names, and consistently being a patron in places where I know my money is appreciated and does a lot of good. So, when the marching is over and it’s time to go back to work, I wonder: how many of us will go back to lives of not looking each other in the eye, reading name tags, hearing stories, and putting a financial number to our heart’s values? How many women will you see, who you regularly see (like the Dunkin’ lady or the Starbucks barista who pours your coffee every morning) tomorrow and you won’t take the time to a) read their name tag, b) say “good morning” or ask “how are you” to, and c) look them in the eye and even say things like “please” and “thank you” to? Seriously. I can’t tell you how many women I see regularly be rude to other women who are in service positions around my community. I’m just sayin’: if you’re here for the red, if you’re here for the day of withholding, I hope that means you’re here for daily engagement and sincerity tomorrow, too.

I know I’m preaching to the choir and, in someways, lobbing friendly fire. I’m simply frustrated on behalf of friends who couldn’t go to work today because whole school systems shut down because of today’s strike. “My daughter could have used a special kind of lesson today,” a friend told me over Facebook. “What did she miss out on because people decided to think about themselves and deprive the children?”

Please don’t think me as anti-feminist. I’m not even against today’s strike. I’m simply frustrated, because I’m not sure if this is the best way to measure a woman’s worth on the larger economic scale. The Great Women’s March made sense and had impact. For many communities that weekend, there really were a few days without women! Women came back home to men who didn’t know what to do with themselves, couldn’t tell you where the weekend had gone, and were praying every prayer that their wives would never leave them ever again. That, I think, has a lot of power. Those were days that meant something to all involved and still resonate on a daily basis in the lives and circles of many.

Anyway, today is International Women’s Day and I’m a woman who woman’d today. It’s a hard job, thankless and mean, dangerous at times, lonely at others. We are beautiful and complex, we are loved and we are scorned, we are revered, exploited, reviled, loathed and threatened. We are what we were made to be: the counter balance, the rule makers, the creators, the vessels of life. We are walking paradoxes and contradictions. Infinitely beautiful and utterly perfect. Would you really want to be anything else? I don’t. But yes, I’d like to be seen. I’d like to be respected. I’d like to be given my full due for the good work I do. I’m here with you, I just ask for your consistency.

It was a long day being the only woman in house of men. My brain is muddled and my back is sore. But I’m grateful that it’s Wednesday and I’m on pace to meet my goals for the week. How are you doing, Dear Reader? You’ll make it to Friday, right?

See you then for Quiet Thoughts.

40 Replies to “Lean in? Take off? Just Another Day.”

  1. Wow, KC, you expressed how I am feeling and more. So much of these revolutions have been focusing on the negative. So often, I have seen women not respecting other women. If we want a positive outcome to our actions, let’s do things that encourage and uplift each person, celebrating and affirming who they are, instead focusing on what they are not – not just women but all human persons, in all walks of life. Hugs.

    1. Thank you! I totally agree! I understand, though, that we are reacting to something large and looming, infuriating and threatening… I’m just raising up my hand in caution. If we’re all in this together, let us all be in this TOGETHER, you know?

  2. I was one of those women. I got a call from the school system at 7:15 PM as we were finishing homework. I had to send a text to my boss to let her know that I wouldn’t be in. I spent the day being a mommy and enjoying some one on one time with my son. I actually dressed in all black too yesterday. I didn’t do red.

        1. You know what? I just found it and I’m like, holy crap…
          So, wish granted. Look for that next Monday or Wednesday!

    1. Thanks for reading, M.L. and thank you for sharing. I don’t disagree with you in philosophy, I only object to the methodology. Calling on women to strike yesterday assumed that womanhood and the American Woman experience is somehow monolithic: that we all have the ability to do so. For a huge amount of us (a majority of us? I’ll say it but can’t actually substantiate it), it’s simply not a possibility that we can call out from work. For many of us, work is life. One day of work is the difference between life and non-functioning life. For some women, calling out yesterday would be the forfeit of consistent work. Not always GOOD PAYING work, but CONSISTENTLY paying work, plain and simple which is, again, the difference between life and non-functioning life.

      We have to be careful. Resistance must come with wisdom, reflection and inclusion. You are right that we are the backbones of the economy. So how can we better weave together the circles of women who do the economy’s work? How do we support, from women on the top (women who had the luxury of withholding labor yesterday) to the women on the bottom (women for whom work is a delicate, precarious and not guaranteed, yet utterly vital necessity) the economy of womanhood? How do we find and support women-owned businesses? How do we hire women into consistent, good paying work? How do we provide them the childcare necessary for them to do their jobs, do them well, and do them without worry that a single day away will be a forfeiture of position?

      Could yesterday have accomplished that? I would submit that it couldn’t have. That’s my humble opinion, though, as reflected here.

      I recognize and empathize with your anger and frustration. Indeed, I share it. I’m simply coming at it from a different place. Ultimately, though, we are working toward the same thing: effective resistance.

      1. I should have (and maybe will edit) recognized the people who couldn’t strike. However, the vast majority of women who really could have didn’t. And yes, let’s do all those other things!

  3. Thanks for expressing this point of view. I think many people can relate to this perspective. To be able to take the day off is definitely a luxury that many cannot afford. I also worked yesterday, but my choice was out of a sense of commitment to my community. I felt that my students needed me to teach, and so without shame, I did what I felt made the greatest impact. My job allows for me to address what is going on in the world with young people everyday. To stay home would have resulted in a missed opportunity to talk about gender in our society.

    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment! I’m a former 8th grade US History teacher. I would have gone to teach yesterday for all the reasons you have listed. We teachers have a particular obligation and opportunity over these next few years just for all of the reasons you have written.

      And I know that in doing so, in being there for your children, you were standing in solidarity with all of us. The more we teach these children about all that has happened and all that is yet to come, the better we will all be. So, I’m grateful to you. 🙂

      1. Thanks for the kind words :0) FYI-I’m also the mother of biracial children (three). My oldest two are young adults now, and I have one who is still in high school. My family lives in the south, so our lives have definitely been interesting. It’s good to know that you are out there in the world with us!

  4. There is power in women not going to work, it does send a message. However, I recognize that many women could not stay home because of financial or other reasons.

    My frustration is seeing women state that the women who marched yesterday were not real women or not as powerful as women who went to work.

    My frustration is seeing women who belittle women out on the streets who are fighting for rights, which if you take a short look back in time, women fought for rights that women today take for granted.

    A lot of women today take for granted that they can serve in the military while being a mom, a lot of women today take for granted that they are protected from discrimination.

    I think that how we spend our money is just as important as days where we stand together.

    Anyway- thanks for sharing, thanks for fighting the good fight.

    1. Thanks for this, Darcy. I appreciate your reading and commenting. I don’t disagree with you and I hope I don’t come off as belittling my counterparts who took part yesterday, as that is not what I’m intending to do.

      I agree with everything you’ve written: We women have a rightful place in this democracy, and I think that our voices absolutely should be out and heard. I wrote this post in recognition that the experience of American Woman is multifaceted and, more importantly, often leaves behind whole swaths of women when we start to define it. You can see what I wrote in reply to M.L. just above. I don’t disagree with the philosophy (I actually whole-heartedly endorse it). I caution against the methodology. As we continue to create a moment of sustained resistance, I want to make sure that we fold in everyone, that we’re locking arms with all sorts of women. Yesterday it was a strike. Maybe tomorrow it’s a flashmob buying spree at women-owned businesses. Maybe the next day it’s marching with low-wage workers fighting for a raised minimum wage. Maybe it’s sit-ins at State Houses to fight for affordable childcare for all or expanded HeadStart for children in urban communities. I’m here for it all. I want to make sure others are, too, and that we’re creative when we start thinking about just how disruptive we can chose to be.

      And that’s important: creativity in the disruption. That means more voices should be at the table and brought into the fold. And that brings me back to the meat of my post: looking people in the eye, learning names, listening to stories, spending time weaving the webs of community. We’re powerful when we’ve got our heads together and we’re listening to each other, conspiring together.

  5. I agree that striking was necessary but those of us who couldn’t march, myself included, shouldn’t be belittled or labeled antifemenist because we’re not. The Hamilton quote made me smile because I’ve had the soundtrack on repeat for almost a week now.

  6. I hope we can put aside methodology and differences to stand together, work together, and fight for the right causes together as we care deeply for each other. When divisions emerge, all the wrong people stand to gain. Thank you for so eloquently expressing your feelings. I hope we can build on the power and strength, the comfort and warmth of spirit I felt along with my 500,000 closest friends at the Women’s March in D.C. I am touched and inspired by your post. Let’s all hear and see each other, whatever color we are and whatever color we wear.

    1. Thank you for reading my post! I’m so glad that it resonates and I’m so grateful for your time marching and resisting. It’s all important. What we’re all doing is important. I think that as long as we keep looking for new ways to be seen and heard, and as long as we take the time to include as many people as we possibly can while we do it, we’ll be alright. Our hearts, I know, are in the right place.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment! I appreciate it!

      There were a lot of women who didn’t have a choice on Wednesday. I’m here for all sorts of creative solutions for how to include all sorts of women and all of our experiences.

  7. What an eloquent description of the dichotomy of International Women’s Day. I had a hard time talking to my kids about it — the point they were trying to make, the reason not everyone was able to participate — I don’t know that I didn’t make a big muddled mess of it. But we’re trying.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You are doing powerful work.

    1. I’m sure you were probably fine. 😉 It’s good that the kiddos are asking questions and getting answers. They can interpret and apply as they see fit!

      Thank you for reading my post! I’m so glad that you’ve stopped by!

  8. Good post. I also don’t have the time to go on protests or marches. I do wish ALL women’s voices were welcome during Woman’s Day. Unfortunately millions were not welcome to attend. I personally wish our society would learn to respect the importance of women’s and mom’s roles in society. Mostly I feel being a mom is a thankless job. Usually it’s not even considered a job at all. I also think women need to start respecting other women, not just those who have certain political beliefs. I do like your idea about using or money to show support for women owned businesses. It’s a good idea.

    1. Indeed, the Great March wasn’t perfect and, you are right, many were left out. This exposed a glaring and important problem that we are going to have to solve if we really hope to get anywhere. I have been pondering this a lot: how to cast the long-tail thread between the women of the coasts and cities and the women of the heartland and outlands? Womanhood is not a monolith, but there are things that women -know- and -understand- and -empathize- with no matter where they live, what they do, who they love or where they come from… but we can’t seem to tell the story in the languages that we all speak. It’s a shame. I know that my concerns about my boys’ education are shared by the mother in Roxbury (urban) and the mother in Barre (rural). I know that my concerns about my health are shared by women in those areas as well. We haven’t done a great job telling our tales, speaking the language of inclusion and listening to women of different experiences. We have to spin the yarn and then we have to start weaving the narratives. It starts with individual acts of stepping out of comfortable circles, expanding our world maps, looking people in the eye and starting up conversations.

      I’m rambling. Sorry. I’m grateful for your point, is all. I know we have to be better at a lot of things. We have to heed a lot of lessons. We have to make sure that we are listening.

  9. Thanks for this. I wasn’t against the wearing of red/taking off of work either, but I didn’t feel compelled to participate. I am a high school English teacher and I often feel like just showing up to my job and doing my thing and supporting the strong young women I teach, and educating the strong young men, is the best I can do.

    A good reminder that supporting women isn’t just about spending money, but about treating women in service positions with courtesy and kindness 🙂

Leave a Reply