I participated in #ADayWithoutAWoman. I’m white, I’m a millennial, I’m a Democrat, and by most of the world’s standards, I’m privileged. I am the stereotypical example of what this movement looks like. I exercised my free speech, sure- and it was easy, convenient even, to take a day ‘off’. But why did I do it?
Because I can.
Not the kind of ‘because I can’ defined by the Urban Dictionary; "An absolute and valid verbal justification of any action that is seemingly without a clear goal or purpose. This expression is used to quickly make someone realize that the action in itself is so mind-numbingly cool and awe-inspiring that a purpose is no longer necessary."
Rather I mean that I can afford to. I can financially afford the day off, as a contractor I am beholden to no one but myself and my schedule is mine to keep, and because I live in a country where this sort of peaceful protest is a right not a privilege.
I chose to make this day about me. Because it’s something women forget is important. To remember we are mothers, co-workers, wives, daughters, chauffers, chefs, laundresses, and queens – all of us in our own right. But we are something so much more than all of that. We are human. We are not any different than our male counterparts and our society (at least in America) grants us no reprieve from the many titles we wear -- some we wish for, some we resist. Women are taught not to be selfish, to be ever the gracious hostess.
Well, for this one day I disappeared and you know what? No one died. No one’s life came crashing down around them -- mine included. But, when I returned to work today -- never having mentioned that I took off yesterday in protest -- I returned to my office and was approached by two male co-workers who asked if I had participated the day before in the Women’s Day Off protest. I said yes. And do you know what they said? Thank you.
How cool of them to recognize it’s more than just about a day off work. That it means something. That one interaction and those two little words convinced me I was missed. And that was the point. If I have to explain why then you probably just don’t get it and my short essay is not going to convince you otherwise.
So, on to the big question -- what did I do with myself all day? I took my daughter to breakfast. We had a big time coloring ponies in her coloring book and eating toast with jam. I had tea. We took a walk around downtown and then I dropped her off at grandma’s house. Once I was alone I sat in my car for a solid 5 minutes -- just silence. It’s easy to forget what that sounds like. I had no phone with me, no buzzing emails, no client emergencies, and no co-workers to ask when I’ll be in and can I lend an opinion or a hand. I thought about the women participating in this day with me. And then I didn’t think of them anymore. Because today was about me, or rather, the lack of me.
After my 5 minute meditation, I drove myself back downtown. Where did I go? Like any self-respecting young urbanite who wants to disappear for an afternoon, I went to the spa. I had a massage. It was lovely -- so lovely. I had a ‘wellness manicure’ –- whatever that is -- and it was delightful. I chose red nail polish. It matched my husband’s red bandanna he tied around his head before heading out to a construction site for the day. He called it his act of solidarity. I called it awesome.
But wait? You mean you didn’t march? You didn’t hold a picket sign? You didn’t donate to Planned Parenthood or volunteer at the local woman’s shelter?
I believe the silence I carried with me that day spoke volumes -- no sign necessary.
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