Apparently I’m out of the loop on this one. The first I heard about it was last night at probably 6pm, much to late to get on board with the red shirt wearing to show support (not that I had many places to go and show my support). I don’t own a red shirt, so that put me completely out of the running. I own a red sweater, but the weather isn’t suited to wearing it, so I go without red and wear my Joker shirt instead.
A few things have struck me about this whole thing. It’s hard for me to think of a way to put things into order, but I think they all revolve around the same basic principal. This was not necessarily the best thought through event.
Now, I’m not knocking anyone who took the day off today from paid and unpaid labor. If you’ve got the ability to do it and choose to, that’s your choice. I don’t have that kind of privilege. I suppose we could have taken the day off from homeschooling, but that’s not the only unpaid task I do during the day. I make food. I play referee. I walk the kids to jujitsu and play entertainment the whole way there and back. Today I cuddled a cranky Luca that needed a nap and was too tired to realize it. All of this stuff can be considered “unpaid work”, but I did it today, not because of my opinion on women’s equality, but because it needs to be done. And to me, it’s not really work. I don’t do it because it’s one more thing to check off my to-do list. I do it because I love my kids. I chose to be a parent and I’m choosing to be a good parent by taking care of my kids.
But thinking about this more seriously, let’s say I was working. I’ll be honest about my financial situation here, I couldn’t afford to take the day off of work for something like this. We’re strapped about as tight as can be right now, living well below the poverty line for my state. That means we can’t afford the luxury of taking the day off just because it’s falling in line with a national protest day. My life is not that privileged. For how many other women is this situation true?
And how many women can’t wear red because it conflicts with their work uniform? Sure, if you work at Target, you’re set, but if you work at Walmart, for example, the work uniform is blue. This is a very real situation to those below the poverty line. Many people work at menial minimum wage jobs, which means they have to play by the rules and can’t just call in because they’re making a statement. It’s only for people who are in situations where they can call out of work and not suffer, or people who don’t have a strict uniform at work. It would be better to have everyone wear a pin or a sticker, similar to the “I Voted” stickers they give out after the elections. That’s something universal that everyone can do if they can afford the cost of a pin, sticker, or button. And those who have money to spare can get some extras and hand them out throughout the day.
One thing I noticed as I was out, no one was wearing red shirts. At my appointment that day all the women were there. My counselor called me today, indicating she was in the office today. The people waiting in the office (mostly women), were all there, not wearing red shirts. I saw not a single person while I was out wearing red, except for Beekee, who was wearing a red hoodie. It seemed like the message missed the people in my poor section of town. It’s either that or they just don’t care. These kinds of problems are for the privileged, not for the poor who struggle to survive every week. The office I go to caters to people who are recovering from addiction, victims of domestic violence, and clients of a local organization that helps the poor and the homeless. This is the same organization that helped us find our apartment. These are not people who can afford to miss a day of work to make a statement. The idea of wearing red to show you support women is so far above their considerations for the day that they’re probably unaware it’s even a thing. For that matter, I didn’t even know until last minute. Even knowing, this is a problem that’s above my pay grade (to use some military talk there). I’m living in a world where my focus is on paying my bills and figuring out how to afford homeschooling on a very tight budget. I don’t worry about things like this because it’s so far above my level of needs on a daily basis that I can’t even see it.
I have strong feelings about events that encourage people to not do things. There are people that rely on other people to show up that day. How would the world operate if all the daycares and schools failed to open because their teachers didn’t show? How would small businesses handle losing a day of business. What if all the doctors and nurses failed to show up at work? I understand the point is to show how the country could grind to a halt, but there are people who rely on those services. However, is the need to prove that point really worth it? And what does it tell our children to suddenly cause the world to come to a screeching halt just to make a point?
To promote equality I’m actively doing things, not choosing not to do things. I’m teaching my children to respect, whether a person is male, female, gay, straight, trans, or any color of the rainbow and description they may choose for themselves. My children are being taught that respecting themselves and those around them is just what you do. If the world worked on this idea that you show respect to everyone, perhaps there wouldn’t need to be “A Day Without Women”. Perhaps women would be more equally viewed in the workplace. Stay at home moms might get better treatment from everyone around them. There might even be less cattiness in women oriented groups. Respect is the point that holds it all together.
So, no, I may not be wearing red today, and I’m certainly not going to give up the unpaid tasks I do (making more work for myself later), but I am doing my part to promote equality of women in the world around me, and not just women but everyone. I’m raising my children, male and female alike, to be aware of the issues in the world around them. I’m raising strong, educated kids that are going to go out into the world and make it a better place, to be the change they want to see in the world. If that’s not promoting the cause, then I give. I’m doing the best I can.