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How Stay-at-Home Moms Can Strike This Wednesday

Photograph by Twenty20

This Wednesday, prepare for a bit of disruption. Your child's preschool might be closed. Your hair stylist might cancel on you. Your best friend might text that your regular meetup at Starbucks is off. There's a bigger picture to these apparent nuisances, and maybe you should creating a few of your own.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, which happens every year but is largely ignored here in the U.S. But things, as you're well aware, have changed. And off the back of a highly successful Women’s March in January, the organizers behind that are calling for A Day Without a Woman, a general women's strike to demonstrate how indispensable women are in all areas of daily life, whether what they are doing is paid or unpaid, or—very relevant to moms—seen or unseen.

The organization's website has a template for a letter women who work for someone else can give their bosses. The letter explains why they won't be at work on Wednesday. It explains that A Day Without a Woman wants to, among other things, call attention to gender pay gaps and the lack of paid family leave policies.

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But maybe you're a stay-at-home mom or on maternity leave. Or maybe you already know there is just no way your boss is going to let you not show up to work without a painful downside for you and your future. There are still ways you can participate.

First, you can just pump your fist in the air and then go on with yourself. Ideally, you'd be able to do something big: Stub out a cigarette and flick it in the face of that sexist a-hole you worked for in college or cut your former boss' tie for saying you'd never return after maternity leave. (Which you didn't, because 6 weeks? That just wasn't enough. And daycare? It cost more than your paycheck.) But maybe that's all you have in the tank, in the realm of your possibility. What's awesome is that you recognize something needs to be done and even if people in the U.S. aren't really used to doing the large-scale strikes, at least something's happening.

That's important. Fists raised.

What organizers would like women and gender-nonconforming people to do also doesn't involve chaining themselves to lightposts or throwing bricks through windows. Instead:

1. Wear red, a color of signifying revolutionary love and sacrifice, to show solidarity with A Day Without a Woman.

2. Only spend money at small, women- and minority-owned businesses for the day.

3. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor.

This women's strike hasn't been as publicized as the Women's March—that day of mass protest marches in pink hats in cities all across the country (and world). So manage your expectations now, or the media and Trump supporters and the patriarchy will be all, "Haha, you guys are losers, go back to your kitchen, make me a martini." The idea is to make it clear that women are 50 percent of humanity, a large part of how this country functions and can be the sand in the machine that messes up the works once women get sick of being taken for granted.

“A Day Without a Woman is a very different type of action than the march,” Women’s March organizer Bob Bland told Vox. “The march was all about people getting out, coming together and showing themselves very explicitly. A strike can be very different from that.”

For example, taking a day off from the work you do in the home.

On average in the U.S., women do more of the heavy lifting in terms of housework and childcare. And it's not just the grown-up females. Girls get paid less, on average, for chores than their brothers (so maybe tell them to step up and strike, too)! A strike at home could mean telling your partner (if he's male) that HE will need to take the day off from work (he'll have to write his own letter) so that he can cover with the kids while you don't set out breakfast, don't cancel doctor appointments, don't go to a PTA meeting, don't drive to soccer practice, don't pack lunches, don't figure out dinner, don't do baths, don't, don't, don't. (Though no one is saying don't kiss your kids.)

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The idea is that everyone—corporations, government agencies (including schools, where men still dominate the top roles as superintendents, priniciples, university chancellors and the like)—needs to notice on a true level how important and underappreciated the work that tends to fall on women is.

And, yes, this work is something many women actually love doing. And, no, there's nothing wrong with that. But the Women's Strike is about what feminism is about and what not enough women have: opportunities, choice, fairness, access, autonomy, equal pay.

This strike is about pushing back against a president's agenda that was made possible by a lack of progress in the past 30 years, the organizers write for The Guardian.

“While Trump’s blatant misogyny was the immediate trigger for the huge response on 21 January, the attack on women (and all working people) long predates his administration,” they said. “Women’s conditions of life, especially those of women of color and of working, unemployed and migrant women, have steadily deteriorated over the last 30 years, thanks to financialization and corporate globalization.”

So will the strike shut down the country? Cause mayhem? Trigger immediate change? Nope, not likely. Will it make the rights of lives of women more centered in political discussions and decisions? Sure, it could do that. At least for one news cycle.

Will everything go back to normal if you do or don't participate? That's kind of a loaded question, because now, these days, there really is no normal.

Red shirts on, fists up: We'll see everyone back at their desks/in the parks/organizing fundraisers/scooping soapy bathwater on Thursday, bright and early.

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