How to Talk to Men About ‘A Day Without A Woman’
So you’ve decided to participate in A Day Without a Woman. Great! Now comes the tough part: talking about it with guys. (JK, we all know the tough part is overthrowing the patriarchy.)
While A Day Without a Woman and the women’s strike should be pretty self-explanatory, it’s sort of understandable that some questions would remain. Take a look below for quick talking points you can use when a man (or a person of any gender!) asks about the upcoming Women’s Strike. Because knowledge is power, y’all.
For starters, how does he respond when you say you’re participating in A Day Without a Woman?
(A) “That’s great! I am in full support of this effort. Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I can be of assistance in forwarding this message.”
(B) “A Day Without A Woman? What’s that?”
(C) “Look, I’m not against feminism or anything, but I don’t see how taking the day off work is going to fix anything. No offense!”
(D) Says something repulsively sexist; uses the word bitches to describe the female half of the population; rolls his eyes; says something dumb and then tries to claim it was a joke; tries to get a rise out of you with inflammatory language.
If (A): Congrats, you got a woke one on your hands!
If (B): Send him to this helpful FAQ page; if he still has questions, you can answer them, but it’s not your job to answer easily google-able questions. He’s a person. He can learn himself a thing.
If (C): See the answer to (B) and try to keep the conversation about the strike and the issues around it, not the pros and cons of feminism at large. You can totally talk to and educate ignorant people—in fact, if they are reaching out at all, it’s a great opportunity to spread the good word of liberation—but it’s best to go issue by issue, staying focused on a narrow topic, rather than wading into the weeds of theory and feelings and general experiences. That way lies madness.
If (D): Yikes. Probably best to just walk away. You have better things to do with your time than try to debate an asshole.
Let’s say you’ve got on your hands someone who knows a little something, and he wants to poke holes in your plan. What tack does he take?
(A) “This whole thing reeks of privilege. There are so many working women who can’t afford to take the day off. There are way better ways to fight for equality—ones that include economic justice.”
(B) “I have one thousand and one questions about this because I am interested and want to learn, but also, if you don’t have a perfect (by my standards) and smart (by my standards) and acceptable (by my standards) answer to every single one of my questions, or if you show any impatience with me at all, I am going to roll my eyes and call you ignorant.”
(C) “This isn’t going to greatly impact the economy and it won’t change the laws and it won’t get sexist politicians out of office, so you’re wasting your time.”
(D) “If feminism means men and women are equal, isn’t a strike that’s just for women not feminist? Shouldn’t we treat everyone the same?”
If (A): You’ve encountered the elusive but valuable Smart Enough to Talk His Way Out of Everything guy, a valuable Poké-bro indeed. While his compassion for working-class women is admirable, his focus is sorely misplaced. Yes, it is true that the strike will be easiest for privileged women. But women who can’t take the day off can still participate by not buying anything that day (or buying less, or buying from women-owned companies), and if the media coverage generated by the strike sheds a light on the myriad ways privileged and underprivileged women face discrimination in the workforce, that’s a net gain.
The privilege issue is a sticky one. On the one hand, we strike on behalf of all women. On the other…yeah, it’s tough; it’s not always possible to include everyone, and that is worth talking about. But dismissing a strike whole hog—especially one modeled on very successful strikes in other countries that did indeed reach women from all backgrounds—isn’t a helpful response. What would be more helpful is to take a clear and critical look at what happens at this strike and use it to make the next strike or other action better and more inclusive. This is a long fight, and every step is a learning experience. Intersectionality doesn’t happen overnight, so let’s use what’s already happening today (or, in this case, Wednesday) to better inform what we plan for tomorrow (or, in this case, Thursday and beyond). Additionally, the strike doesn’t preclude other forms of action on other days. If he’s so invested in actions that will include and benefit socioeconomically disadvantaged women, he is welcome to plan one. Seriously!
If (B): Answering question after question and listening politely to comment after comment is called emotional labor; it’s unpaid, it’s real, women do it for men all the time, and you can 100 percent strike from it. If he wants a Gender Theory 101 class, he can pay for one at his local community college, or he can go to the library. Educating every man who questions you is admirable, but it’s not your job. You get to walk away from the conversation at any time.
If (C): Ah, the ol’ “If it doesn’t immediately fix the problem, it’s no good at all” argument. A classic! Welp. For starters, the average working woman isn’t often invited on Fox News to give her two cents about the state of the nation. But if we team up, we can get some coverage for important issues and make our voices heard. That’s one reason to have a strike, or a march, or a hashtag, or whatever other form of protest this guy is trying to sweep under the rug. Also, getting people engaged in issues that directly affect them is even more important during nonelection years. It’s easy to think you do your part because you tick off a few boxes on a ballot once every two (or, in many cases, four) years. But what about showing up the other 600-plus days between elections? The government doesn’t stop between elections, so getting involved can’t either, and attention-grabbing actions like strikes bring more people into the fold.
If (D): BAHAHAHAHAHA OK, BRUH. ARE YOU ACTUALLY MAKING THIS ARGUMENT? SIT DOWN FRIEND, WOMEN HAVE IMPORTANT MATTERS TO DISCUSS.
Finally, he might just have a random query. Fair enough. What is his random query?
(A) “Is there a color for this? I saw a bunch of people wearing white to vote and pink to march; what color are we doing this time?”
(B) “Can’t I just donate to Planned Parenthood or something?”
(C) “But what if I already made plans to do an important thing that day that requires shopping that day and, like, going to work and stuff?”
(D) “Where can I see a strike narrative centered around white men that will simultaneously inspire and entertain me?”
If (A): We’re doing red!
If (B): Not quite. While donating money to Planned Parenthood is a great thing to do, it’s important to recognize that it’s not the same thing as standing up and being counted by attending an action/writing a letter/making a phone call/boycotting a company. Money isn’t always the solution: You can’t just buy your way out of civic engagement. Should you donate your money to a good cause that supports women? Hell, yeah! Is that the same as actively supporting the strike? Probably not. So do with that information what you will.
If (C) Look dude, if you really, really, really can’t change your plans, do your thing and don’t make a big deal about it. Don’t post on Facebook about how you tried to strike but couldn’t, don’t beg forgiveness from your female friends. This isn’t about you. Join up on the next thing and the thing after that. It’s gonna be a long haul. Also maybe take a look at your priorities.
If D) Try Newsies.