Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Day Without a Woman

I participated in the Women's Strike, despite waffling about the decision to do so and feeling reluctant even once the decision was made. I participated in the Women's Strike, and it wasn't empowering. I felt bored. I felt pointless. I felt guilty. I felt embarrassed. But I didn't feel empowered. Ultimately, the reasons I was skeptical about participating turned out to be the reasons A Day Without A Woman ended up feeling, for me, like a day without a purpose. 

Why did I want to participate? 

I'm a feminist. I care about women's issues. And I regret not participating in the Women's March. I had a lot of reasons for not joining in that display of solidarity, but that weekend as I read news coverage and scrolled through Twitter, I felt I had let my gender down. I felt I had passed up a chance to unify. I felt I had missed out on part of history. I realized too late that what I had perceived as a lack of focus regarding the mission of the march was actually the purpose. On that incredible day, people found their voice. And it didn't matter that the voices lacked unison; they had harmony. 

I liked the idea of today because it felt similar. I liked the idea of joining in a widespread expression of what women contribute in the workplace, in the economy, in society, in the family. I liked the idea of drawing attention to those contributions.  

Why was I hesitant to participate? 

While I see sexism regularly and try my best to call attention to it, I am rarely the recipient of it. I'm surrounded by great men and strong women. I have had the privilege of being judged more on my merits than on my gender. And something rang false to me about protesting when I hadn't personally been adversely impacted by nature of being female. But I also recognized that my privilege is exactly why I need to take a stand. Because there are women all over who haven't been as fortunate. 

So what was my day like?

I had told my boss I wouldn't be in and why. He respected my decision and said he'd see me Thursday. Our office's annual chili cookoff was today, and I missed that. The mock trial team I coach has quarterfinals tomorrow, and I missed their practice. I didn't spend money. I hung out with my sister and her family. I read. I watched tv. I watched footage of the Women's March organizers--who prided the movement on the peacefulness of January's march--being arrested for impeding traffic and felt embarrassed. I watched my mock trial team's message feed about practice and felt guilty. As 5 o'clock approached, the time I otherwise would have been preparing to leave work, I couldn't help but feel like I had wasted an entire day. I had accomplished nothing. Other than some temporary profile pictures, my red jeans, and a Nevertheless She Persisted tshirt, I had nothing to show for my participation in what I expected to be...something more. Something noticeable. Something meaningful. 

Do I regret participating? 

I don't know. I don't think so. I'm not even prepared to say generally that the day was unsuccessful, because I can't speak to the effect the strike might have had on others. And honestly, I'm grateful to know that this form of activism doesn't work for me. That means I can work at finding other ways to support causes I care about and, hopefully, find more fulfillment in pursuing them. 

With all that being said, I hope I hear that others had a different experience. I hope that somehow, to someone, today made the world better.