Daily Engagement is a new, brief, daily feature on Flavorwire. It’s aimed at helping people feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s been doling out daily affronts to human decency.
Every day, we’ll post one easy thing that people can do to continue to resist the current state of politics under the Trump administration, focusing on the creative ways (we are a culture website after all) that citizens are finding to resist. Today: International Women’s Day and the fight against gender inequality.
What’s the issue?
The issue, put simply, is that women are still treated as second-class citizens in American society. They earn less than men and are generally disadvantaged economically in comparison to men; they don’t get paid maternity leave (the US is the only first-world country where this is the case), they’re disproportionately represented in statistics on rape and domestic violence; and many more that you probably don’t need me to explain to you.
Today is International Women’s Day, and this year it’s also “A Day Without a Woman” — a day that’s been designated by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington as a day of protest against America’s treatment of women and, specifically, in protest against the Trump administration’s rhetoric, its overwhelmingly male makeup, and the general air of misogyny that hangs over it like a thick, noxious fog. A Day Without a Woman coincides with the International Women’s Strike, which encourages women to refuse to work in protest “not just against Trump and his misogynist policies, but also against the conditions that produced Trump, namely the decades long economic inequality, racial and sexual violence, and imperial wars abroad.” (For the record, both events explicitly extend their rubric to trans women, genderqueer people, etc: per the FAQ on womensmarch.com, it’s “for women, femmes and all gender-oppressed people. We recognize that in addition to being economically, socially, and politically oppressed, trans and GNC people face heightened levels of discrimination in the workplace, particularly as there are no federal anti-discrimination laws on the basis of gender identity.”)
There are certainly valid questions to ask about the whole thing: whether a general strike will be effective, whether it’s even possible for women to strike from “women’s work,” and what “women’s work” means in 2017 anyway. (This excellent piece by Sady Doyle for Elle addresses all three of these questions, and several more.) But whatever you think of the strike idea, International Women’s Day is as good a day as any to stop to think about just how we might go about reducing gender discrimination and the damage it causes to our society.
What can you do?
Well, you could strike! But if you can’t or don’t want to — or, indeed, even if you are taking the day off work — you could support the ideas behind the strike.
For a start, don’t complain or belittle people who are striking, especially if you happen to work with them. Unless it’s a matter of life and death — and I can’t imagine many female brain surgeons are taking the day off today — a day of lost productivity isn’t the end of the world. America’s obsession with work as a virtuous pursuit in and of itself means that many people’s instinct is to regard the state of non-work as inherently negative. But there are things more important than work, and this is one of them. If you find yourself resenting co-workers with taking a day off work to support a very worthy cause, perhaps you might use this day to think about just why you might find work to be more important than gender equality. (It’s not by accident, I expect, that the strike’s organizers associate themselves explicitly with anti-capitalist causes — and, of course, the whole idea of a general strike has its roots firmly in the history of labor organization.)
You could also attend a rally. There are rallies in support of the strike and the fight against gender discrimination happening in many cities around the world today. If you’re in NYC, get to Washington Square Park at 4pm for this.
You could also consider making a financial contribution to an organization whose activities are in line with the idea of alleviating gender inequality. Both the Women’s March people and the Women’s Strike organizers have donation links on their websites — you can find them here and here, respectively. If neither of those organizations are quite what you had in mind, there are some other obvious outlets for your donation: Planned Parenthood (as discussed yesterday on Flavorwire), RAINN, NCADV, and the ACLU.
Beyond those organizations, Jezebel published an exhaustive list of pro-women (and also pro-immigrant, pro-earth and anti-bigotry) organizations last November, which is available in its fully glory here. Similarly, Bustle published an excellent rundown of organizations that are fighting for women’s rights last year on March 8. Any of these organizations would be a fine place to which to send some cash.
And finally, if you’ve not left the house yet, you could wear red. Surely that’s not too much to ask.