I participated in the Day Without A Woman by virtue of being in recovery from a medical procedure. That said, I would have participated wholeheartedly had I been well.
Since I spent the day on the couch, I had lots of time to read a variety of opinions about Day Without A Woman. They seemed to fall into three camps: 1) People who support DWAW; 2) People who support feminism/women/equal rights but think DWAW is elitist and therefore suspect; and 3) People who don’t support DWAW. As someone who falls firmly into the first category, this post will address the latter two positions.
For those who support DWAW but think it’s elitist, the main critique seems to be that this was a movement of privileged women. Some women can’t take paid days off work. They can’t outsource the kids for the day. They don’t have partners who will make sure the family gets fed without them. They risk their jobs if they call in sick. And I agree. THIS IS THE POINT. A day without women’s work is completely unfeasible–and the organizers of the event knew and acknowledged this. If even a small percentage of people noticed that the country would come to a grinding halt if all women actually refused to engage in labor for a day, then this was a win. If even a small percentage of people were made aware that some (many) women don’t have the resources to not work for a day, then this was a win. And, yeah, I think that those women with the resources to participate helped make this reality more clear, more tangible for those who hadn’t given it much thought. Having privilege and using it for good is nothing to be ashamed of. So to allegations that this was an elitist movement, fine. But it was a movement. It was ACTION. And the action was intended to help all women, not just those with the resources to be active.
Most of those who vocally didn’t support DWAW seemed to be of the opinion that gender equality has been achieved. (These, I might add, are the people that the folks in group #2 should be talking with about elitism.) I am happy for people who believe we have achieved gender equality. Their lives must be pretty good. I would also encourage them to look to the experiences of the many, many people telling them (with mountains of evidence at their backs) that this is not true for all or even most women. Since this movement focused on economy, I’ll note here that women in this country still make less than men for the same work, on average. How much less depends on the study–they range from women making 66% to 82% of what men make for the same work, varying significantly depending on ethnicity, age, ability, etc. Keep in mind that these numbers are adjusted for things like FMLA leave. Not adjusting for FMLA would alter these numbers further to women’s detriment, since women are primarily responsible for child and elder care as well and they, for the most part, accept this hit to their economic well-being as a matter of course. Of course, it’s hard to talk about this problem with anyone in power since women are perceived as dominating the conversation (and thus get shouted down) if they speak upwards of 30% of the time. Thus, a day of inaction is a pretty powerful way to make a point.
Want more? Here’s one of the best pieces I’ve found on DWAW: