I’m not prone to overthinking things. Okay, I am prone to overthinking things. Or am I? Yes, I am. I think. In any case, lately I’ve been ruminating over the role of women in society.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the Women’s March on Washington. It turned out there were so many women in Washington that they filled the entire march route without actually having to march. Hundreds of other events were staged in unison at cities around the world. These women, and men, were protesting the inauguration of a vulgar misogynist con man. At the time I asked whether the pink hats could save us.
Tomorrow (March 8, 2017) is another day of protest billed as “A Day Without A Woman.” Women all over America (and perhaps the world) will choose not to work so they can join various walkouts, rallies, and marches. At least a few school systems have already announced the cancellation of school given the number of female teachers who have requested leave that day.
As I ruminate over the effectiveness of such activity, I recognize that there is a sort of privilege to those who have the option to not work that day. Many women – probably most women – don’t have that option, fearing loss of employment, harassment, and dysfunction. Mothers are likely to find it difficult “not to work” when their children need to get to and from school/sports/doctors/libraries/etc. As much as men may (or may not) try to fill in the gaps, the idea of surviving a day without the contributions of women seems impossible.
Which, I suppose, is the point. How many of us men (and children, and even other women) take the women in our lives for granted. Consider what would happen in the workplace without women. Most secretaries (professional assistants) remain women, as do support staff like accounting, human resources, and other traditionally female jobs. But many men might have missed the fact that women now also constitute a large, and growing, proportion of what had once been traditional male jobs – lawyers, scientists, CEOs, etc. During my career in the consulting sciences I recall clearly in the early days where the occasional woman among the men in regulatory meetings was a novelty. Now it is commonly the opposite.
To be honest, if all women chose not to work tomorrow, the world would come to a standstill. Perhaps again, that is the point. Perhaps we need this slap in the face to help us notice what should be obvious. Perhaps it’s also a good reminder to women of their power to affect change.
“A Day Without A Woman” coincides, intentionally, with International Women’s Day. In much of the world for over a century, International Women’s Day is “a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity.” This year’s theme is #BeBoldforChange.
Methinks this is a good idea.
Since I’m not a woman I understand that all I can do is acknowledge and support those women around me. I can ruminate, if you will, on my own place in society. I can be more cognizant of my own actions, my own biases, my own (unintended) sexism. I can be a better man. And that includes appreciating all the better women who surround me.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is due out late July 2017.