I went to work today.
That statement sounds unremarkable, but today was the Day Without A Woman strike and protest. It was organised by the creators of the Women’s March on (Insert City Here) in conjunction with other groups. I seriously considered not going into work, but due to a multitude of circumstances, I was out the door at 7am like normal.
One of the most convincing reasons I went to work today was…my students. Specifically the 10 girls in my class. I can best serve them if I am at school, in the classroom, teaching them about why today matters. Even if they don’t fully understand the significance, the point is that we talked about today. We talked to the boys, too; they didn’t seem to mind that there was a day celebrating their female classmates and teachers. Actually, we teachers got some entertainment out of picking a few boys throughout the day to “do” our jobs, to reinforce the “reality” of what would happen if their three women teachers didn’t come to school that day.
I admire, respect, and stand with you, ladies, every single one of you that was able to strike and physically protest. I envy the privilege you have. On International Women’s Day, and every other day, I salute you. If you were like me, and unable to take the day off, I salute you too. You are just as significant as those who did.
Because I’m tired of smiling and politely refusing the man in the car at night who offered me an unsolicited ride…instead of doing what I really want (and what my very male best friend suggested) and telling him to fuck off. Because I’m tired of being catcalled on my way to the farmers market. Because I’m tired of the fact that despite teaching being an industry dominated by women, we are still paid less than men. Because I’m tired of the fact that UK corporations are just now being put on notice for sexist dress code requirements.
This is not to say that we haven’t made great strides. We have. But millennia of violent, virulent sexism is not washed away in a century; just as centuries of violent, virulent racism is not washed away by the election of a Black president.
We — I, my sisters, my coworkers, my friends — stand on the shoulders of giants. My students will stand on ours.
I am a feminist and I celebrate today because I don’t want my girl students to grow up to make 60 cents for every dollar that a white man makes.
I am a feminist and I celebrate today because I don’t want my girl students to be the 1 in 5 women who report getting raped once in their lifetime.
I am a feminist and I celebrate today because I don’t want my girl students to be taught that they should be afraid.
I am a feminist and I celebrate today because I don’t want my girl students to have to go without proper healthcare or rights to their own bodies.
I am a feminist because apparently that’s a dirty word. I am a feminist because I believe that all women — Black, White, straight, gay, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, poor, rich, married, single, whatever — have a right to what all men take for granted:
To be heard. To be paid. To be safe. To have choice. To be educated.
Ladies, we are beautiful. We are strong. We are broken. We are kind. We are important. We are valuable. We are smart. We are capable. We are funny.
Never stop yelling. Never stop fighting. However, whenever you can. Whatever that means for you.
Happy International Women’s Day.