Why We’re On Strike

When I started telling people the female staff of Galore wouldn’t work on March 8 in solidarity with the International Women’s Strike, I got two equally depressing responses: “what strike?” and “why?”

“What strike?” is depressing because it shows that either the media didn’t do a great job getting the word out, or none of my friends read the news. Neither option is very chill.

But “why?” is worse. To ask why women need to go on strike is not only sad, it’s absurd. It shows you’re not paying attention — or that you’re just one of those assholes who asks questions they already know the answers to.

Today, Galore is going dark. And we’re only posting stories to social media that elevate the causes and voices that are much bigger than all of us. If you still don’t understand why, keep reading.

Our president has set the acceptable rhetoric for talking about women back about 40 years.

People who support Donald Trump love to say he “tells it like it is.”

That’s only true if you think the way “it is” includes women being judged solely for their appearance, treated like appendages to men, and berated.

In my lifetime, the amount of insulting sexist garbage coming at me from men seemed to decrease every year. That’s until Donald Trump started his 2016 presidential run. Trump emboldened scumbags to talk about women like we’re dirt again.

This is one of those issues you can’t really measure, and you can’t tackle it with legislation. It’s something that requires mutual respect across gender lines — you really can’t force that on people. You can only hope they’ll do the right thing.

And now, after years of fighting to be treated equally to men and not have to deal with sexist comments in the workplace, at home, and on the street, we’re moving backwards. Going on strike from work, wearing red, or refusing to spend any money today could show men we’re not messing around when it comes to how they talk to and about us.

There’s still a wage gap.

No matter how many “Actually, No Wage Gap Exists” sermons you hear from drunk finance bros at parties trying to convince themselves they aren’t the devil incarnate, they’re wrong. There is a wage gap. Women make 79 cents per hour for every dollar that men make. And it’s even more pronounced when you divide women by race, with black women making 60 cents on the dollar and hispanic women making 55 cents. Wage gaps also exist for men across racial lines, which is also an issue feminists care about because we want to advance equality for everyone — but you already knew that, right?

Here’s why people still say the wage gap doesn’t exist: the difference gets smaller when you compare women who hold the same positions as men. But there aren’t as many women holding those positions, so it really doesn’t matter, does it?

The fact remains that women are making less on average than men do. Why are so many women stuck in low-paying jobs? And why does society encourage women to pursue these jobs instead of trying to be CEO? Why do women get screwed over professionally when they have kids while men are barely affected by comparison?

And why do we value stereotypically women’s work so much less than we value men’s work? Studies show that when men deign to take up jobs that are usually held by women, salaries go up. And when women start doing “men’s” work, the pay drops across the board.

And no, it’s not because men work harder. We’ve all had enough male colleagues to know that’s simply not true.

So when it comes to making money on the same level as men, women are still screwed. And instead of acknowledging this, plenty of people would rather peddle the same old BS excuses about why the wage gap isn’t real. Don’t let them. And maybe today, since entire school districts are shutting down because so many female teachers were participating in the strike, they’ll learn how much our low-paying jobs are really worth.

Women are screwed by backwards maternity leave policies.

Part of the reason why women make less money than men and hold fewer leadership positions than men is because when we have kids, our careers necessarily take a back seat while we’re on maternity leave (making two thirds our normal salary if we’re lucky, by the way).

This is an area where things are improving, but it still shouldn’t be as dismal as it is. A big part of this issue has to do with childbirth — as mentioned before, unless you work at the rare company that provides free on-site daycare, or you make enough cash for your baby’s other parent to stay home, you’re probably screwed when you have kids.

Taking time off to have a kid can throw a wrench into your entire career path. And when men go back to work a day or a week after their kids are born, not only do they get to keep advancing at the same rate, but the family suffers. If the guys do take off more time to even the playing field, they could be judged at work or called lazy.

It’s not fair for men or women that so many stigmas and taboos are associated with who takes care of the kids, but it especially screws women financially. How many women stay in horrible marriages or give up on their dreams because they have to raise kids and they depend on a man financially to do so? True female empowerment won’t exist until we get practical support for having kids.

Women around the world have it much worse than we do.

Listen, we all get that it’s a luxury to be able to go on strike. And isn’t it funny that a women’s strike is the only time participants have to say “I know, I know, I’m so lucky, I’m sorry!” I mean really, who ever heard of apologizing for going on strike? The conversation surrounding this one is proof enough that the strike is totally necessary.

But those of us striking also understand women in other parts of the world and women in the U.S. who can’t go on strike face more dangers than we do.

One in three women experiences violence from a sexual or romantic partner worldwide, while in some countries that figure is closer to 70%. Hundreds of millions of women are still married off as children. Women and girls are more likely to fall victim to sex trafficking than males are. The list goes on and on. Women are a vulnerable group.

But for American women of privilege to sit and take what we get just because it’s better than nothing? That would keep us under the thumb of men forever. We haven’t come as far as we came in the past 50 years by waiting for our turn — we fought for it and demonstrated. It takes power and money to combat international issues facing women, and those are two things men still have a lot more of than women. So if we keep fighting for our own rights and educating ourselves on what other women are facing, we can be the ones who solve these problems.

We’re sick of being expected to pick up the slack for everyone around us.

Girls and women are expected to put other people’s needs above our own from the minute we learn how to smile on command.

It’s not even something the people who raise us do nefariously — it’s just habit. “Always make sure everyone in the room is comfortable before you worry about yourself” might be something your mom or your grandmother told you. It sounds nice enough — and it would be a great golden rule if they said it to your brother, too. But I bet they didn’t.

When you grow up female, there’s a big chance you’ve been conditioned to be a walking, talking doormat. It goes beyond doing nice things for other people and goes into the realm of self-sacrifice. But we’re not all Mother Theresa. Part of the reason why we don’t have as many incredible women in our history books is that all of the female would-be explorers, discoverers, inventors, and scientists were too busy raising kids and making sure their men were happy because that’s what society expected from them.

Now that more women are working, that behavior has sadly transferred to the workplace. We may not be expected to get coffee for our bosses anymore, but pay attention to who stays at a meeting to clean up all the mess left behind and who volunteers to take care of someone’s birthday at work and who’s willing to do extra, unpaid work just to be nice.

It’s not the guys. And “nice” don’t pay the bills.

So, we’re not doing that anymore. This strike is intended to show employers, colleagues, and the world just how crucial women are — and just how serious we are about not backtracking to the 1950s when it comes to being treated as equals at work, at home, and in public.

But you already knew that, right?

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