Stephanie Hallett
March 06, 2017 2:04 pm
APIC/Getty Images

Following the success of the Women’s March in January, feminist organizers have planned a massive, nationwide Women’s Strike on March 8th — International Women’s Day — and it looks like tons of people are planning to take part. For many, though, the choice to forgo paid labor as an act of resistance is not really a choice at all. In fact, forgoing paid labor just isn’t an option.

In a recent piece for Elle, feminist author Sady Doyle points out that “a woman with a comfortable office job may be able to ‘strike’ simply by taking paid time off and feel confident that her job will be there when the strike is over. But for women in lower-wage positions with few or no protections, leaving for even a day might mean going without necessary wages, or incurring the wrath of an abusive boss, or even losing her job entirely.”

Indeed, after the Day Without Immigrants strike last month, dozens of workers across the country reported losing their jobs — so fear of reprisal is warranted.

What to do, then, if you want to take part in A Day Without a Woman but can’t risk losing your job?

Luckily, organizers of the strike — which aims to “[call] attention to the economic injustices women and gender-nonconforming people continue to face” — have laid out a few ways on their website to take part in the strike without sacrificing a day’s pay or risking your job.

First, refuse to shop. If you can’t skip work, don’t participate in a capitalist system that refuses to pay women equal wages. Strike organizers note a couple of exceptions: “Local small businesses and women-owned businesses that support us [are okay].”

Second, wear red. Show solidarity with women striking around the nation by wearing red to your job or throughout the day.

And third, for men: lean into caregiving. Strike organizers are asking women to refrain not only from paid work on March 8th, but also unpaid work, which includes child and elder care, cooking, cleaning, and all other caregiving labor. Strike organizers suggest that men “use the day to call out decision-makers at the workplace and in the government to extend equal pay and adequate paid family leave for women.”

The strike organizers point out that, throughout history, general strikes and demonstrations of this kind have been most successful when undertaken by those directly affected by oppression — the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955 and the 1965 California grape boycott are two examples. “Social activism is not a privilege. It is a necessity born out of a moral imperative and an imminent threat,” they write.

Whether you choose to participate in the strike or not, the decision is yours to make and both options are entirely respectable. But whatever you decide to do, be safe out there!

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