Iceland, Poland ...and America?
March 7, 2017 9:48 AM   Subscribe

On March 8th ..."The International Women’s Strike or “A Day Without a Woman” is asking women to walk out of their jobs (if they can), abstain from both paid and unpaid labor, and take to the streets to emphasize the importance of their contributions to society and what is lost when they elect to withdraw them. No home-cooked dinners. No meetings. No cleaning". - The Only Way To Know if Striking Works Is To Do It (NyMag)
posted by The Whelk (97 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
asking women to walk out of their jobs (if they can)

This is the part where I wonder who the hell came up with this thing. For whom is this reasonable?

I care a lot about this kind of stuff. A lot. But what this is asking me to do is make my life worse to make a point. Nobody suffers in this but me with less PTO later, and I'm in a relatively privileged position to be able to take the time at all. My employer is not going to be putting more work on my male coworkers to make up for me doing this--I'll just be doing exactly what I'd be doing otherwise, at a less convenient time, either by making up the hours or by working on a later day I'd rather have off.

If the strike only works with the cooperation of management, it's not a strike, it's a bunch of people taking vacation days, isn't it?
posted by Sequence at 10:57 AM on March 7, 2017 [39 favorites]


My coworkers with kids are having to plan for staying home tomorrow because of local school systems closing, since so many of their teachers or staff are observing the protest. So that's more than a bunch of people taking vacation days, it seems to me.
posted by thelonius at 11:01 AM on March 7, 2017 [10 favorites]


This is the part where I wonder who the hell came up with this thing. For whom is this reasonable?
The strike, like January’s Women’s March on Washington, has been the subject of much discussion and some skepticism. Organized by eight grassroots feminist organizers with the intent of shifting focus from “lean-in feminism” to feminism of the working class, “the 99 percent,” questions still abound. Are the objectives clear enough? What will it achieve? Will women with privilege and financial security be the only ones able to participate? And if they are, what kind of message does that send? Not to mention the fear that not showing up to work could rankle women’s already precarious roles in the workplace. Why strike and why strike now?
That's from the second link. It goes on to address several of these points and why they are important ones to think about.
posted by Etrigan at 11:01 AM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't have the vacation day to take. But I support the privilege of those who do and can and will.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:06 AM on March 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


This article about childcare and the women's strike, also on NYMag, is interesting as a sidebar to the first linked article.

In its current state, it seems like the balance isn't quite right, like it might not be a meaningful-enough political statement to justify the loss (practical, financial, etc.) that'll be shouldered by striking women. It'd be so nice if men really did step up and do all the cooking and took initiative to fill in for childcare and etc. But I have no doubts that most chores will go undone and unnoticed, and it'll be twice as much work for women on Thursday.

I would love to be proven wrong, and I would love for this to set precedent for a bigger and more coordinated strike in the future.
posted by witchen at 11:07 AM on March 7, 2017 [10 favorites]


I did read that; I did not mean literally "who". The problem is that even if women with privilege are the only ones to participate, that we aren't actually "participating" if we aren't participating in sufficient numbers in a given workplace. It isn't about "why strike". It's about the fact that strikes rely on organized labor, and this step seems a long way off from being applicable for even most of us who could actually take the time off.
posted by Sequence at 11:30 AM on March 7, 2017 [4 favorites]




There's more to a strike than just not working.
posted by mpbx at 12:03 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Oh good, another place on the Internet where I can rant about this!

Unions, at least the ones I've been in, have a saying: "Never strike alone." In my view, this strike is essentially asking women to strike alone. This is unacceptable. Moreover, they are asking women to strike alone without any safety net, without any financial support, and without a clear objective ("equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people" is not a clear objective, sorry). In fact, my union essentially said "strike if you want to, but we aren't supporting a strike," which is a very pointed message of non-support. This, to me, is a sign.

I have lots of plans for tomorrow, and some of my plans include working. I also plan to wear red in solidarity, to donate all of my wages for the day to Planned Parenthood, to abstain from shopping, to bring up women's issues in my workplace at our monthly meeting (which, yes, remained on the schedule for tomorrow), to hang a solidarity sign on my office door, and to call my reps (which I've been doing regularly for some time now). I liked this short article about what to do if you can't strike.

I wish that this had been better organized, specifically with regards to supporting women who cannot just take the day off without support. But it wasn't, and here we are. It's telling that I don't know a single person, and I know a lot of feminists, who plans to strike tomorrow.
posted by sockermom at 12:09 PM on March 7, 2017 [63 favorites]


Unions, at least the ones I've been in, have a saying: "Never strike alone." In my view, this strike is essentially asking women to strike alone. This is unacceptable. Moreover, they are asking women to strike alone without any safety net, without any financial support, and without a clear objective ("Make them notice it's harder without us" is not a clear objective, sorry). In fact, my union essentially said "strike if you want to, but we aren't supporting a strike," which is a very pointed message of non-support. This, to me, is a sign.

Yup, that's my take on it as well. Unionized strikes work because the union can, at least in theory, take care of its members for the duration of the strike. The union can also guarantee that no members will scab (or they won't be members any more).

"Strike if you feel like it, but nobody's backing you up" is a shitty strategy.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:12 PM on March 7, 2017 [24 favorites]


Here's a good place to mention Taft-Hartley. It's the main reason so many of these actions are voluntary, and toothless.

Good luck, but don't expect too much.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 12:18 PM on March 7, 2017 [5 favorites]


I'm not entirely sure it's as clear-cut as privilege vs. no privilege. Unless privilege means "has no kids" and "in a job without serious responsibility and accountability that can turn off completely for a day (no checking your work email, remember!) without consequences". Most high earners and middle-to-middle-upper-class parents are not capable of doing this either without really risking something or other.
posted by naju at 12:24 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Not to mention, many in that high-earning category are as successful as they've been precisely because they play the capitalist/patriarchal obedience game better than others, and that means not letting on that you're discontented.
posted by naju at 12:30 PM on March 7, 2017 [7 favorites]


I plan to wear red in solidarity, but --- since I work alone in a locked room --- it'll be a probably-pointless gesture. I won't be taking the day off; working alone in that locked room would mean having someone else cover for me, and there's only two (guys) who are skilled enough to do that: one is a part-timer who'll be in class tomorrow, and the other is out on leave himself taking care of his sick mom.

It's a nice thought, and I fully support gender equality; but way too many of us would risk unemployment, and that wouldn't help.
posted by easily confused at 12:31 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


This is really frustrating to me. I run a non-profit that focuses on empowering disadvantaged women and we're having a "love yourself" event instead for women to come as they can during the day to get flowers, get haircuts or massages, and get pampered. Not everyone can afford to strike.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 12:32 PM on March 7, 2017 [17 favorites]


I'm just going to total up what I make tomorrow and donate it to an organization serving marginalized women and children in my community.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:35 PM on March 7, 2017 [12 favorites]


Ireland, too. We are striking on the 8th to Repeal the 8th!
posted by DarlingBri at 12:37 PM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


So, I’m doing this, but part of why I’m doing this is because I work at an org that advocates for fair labor laws and fair pay that is very supportive of this. Since I have the privilege of days off and the privilege of a supportive workplace and the million other privileges that mean I can do it, I figured I should go ahead and do it. Maybe it will mean nothing! Maybe some of my coworkers will ask about it. Maybe I’ll meet other people wearing red and we will all bring down the kyriarchy together. Maybe I’ll go into businesses and bring gifts for the women who were not able to take the day off, but not spend anything.

All I can say is that even my most reluctant and seemingly invisible acts of resistance have made a difference already among people I know, so I’m going with the whole “perfect is the enemy of the good” approach. But if I can use my privilege for something that might be worth something, instead of using it for my benefit alone, then I’m up for it.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:48 PM on March 7, 2017 [13 favorites]


if you're in the bay, there's a march in oakland tomorrow at 5 pm so even if you're not striking (i'm not, but will be donating my income) you can still come out and show solidarity!
posted by burgerrr at 12:53 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


So I am at a conference this week. In my male dominated field. I am so far the only woman here , and my talk is scheduled for Wednesday. Most of my colleagues here aren't American anyhow, and they aren't my employer, so I will be giving my talk. (I don't own anything sufficiently red to take that choice).

That having been said I'm a believer in taking every approach possible; we don't know what forms of resistance will work so sure, try it, see what sticks.

And if it doesn't "stick" use the info gained to do it better next time.
posted by nat at 2:12 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


I appreciate the idea of doing something so I don't want to poop on anyone's pancakes, but as a single mom and a teacher, I can't do this. Only women who can afford to lose a day's pay and possibly their job can afford to do this strike.

However, I am abandoning my Gatsby lesson plans and instead teaching about women in music, starting with The Shirelles.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:14 PM on March 7, 2017 [32 favorites]


as a single mom and a teacher, I can't do this. Only women who can afford to lose a day's pay and possibly their job can afford to do this strike.

Absolutely. I don't think anyone is arguing. I have the luxury; I am indulging it; I know it's a luxury. Additionally, a greater proportion of women in EU countries have more paid time off.

However, I am abandoning my Gatsby lesson plans and instead teaching about women in music, starting with The Shirelles.

<3
posted by DarlingBri at 2:27 PM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


These strikes tend to backfire if publicity is the goal. A protest on a Saturday is a lot more likely to draw huge numbers and get noticed - the Women's March On Washington was amazing, and I know this is a follow-on, but I'm afraid it will be spun as proof of diminished enthusiasm for the cause. I don't think any person I know that marched is going to strike. A strike on a weekday just calls for either low participation or people to chime in and say "I didn't notice any problems from the strike," which is an attempt to diminish the importance of those striking. I got the latter comment from conservatives in response to A Day Without Immigrants, and while it had some impact here and there, it wasn't immediately obvious to a lot of people that any strike had occurred. That is probably because there, as will be the case here, millions of people who care about the issue don't dare strike.
posted by Muddler at 2:37 PM on March 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


These strikes tend to backfire if publicity is the goal. A protest on a Saturday is a lot more likely to draw huge numbers and get noticed

"Two days following Poland’s massive protests, the controversial abortion ban was voted down in the Polish parliament by a vote of 352 to 58." I would call that protest on Monday, October 3rd rather effective.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:51 PM on March 7, 2017 [4 favorites]


DarlingBri, the protest in Poland had a specific, clear objective. I'm not sure what the objective is tomorrow.

I also don't know anyone personally who is striking.
posted by AFABulous at 3:29 PM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


My company that employs well over 1000 people in the US sent out a memo today acknowledging the strike and instructing anyone who will participate to notify their supervisors and use a vacation or personal day.
I don't know anyone who is planning to participate. My immediate 7-person team (6 women, 1 man) is on so many tight deadlines this week that I can't in good conscience take off tomorrow. I support those who do, but I have to agree that I'm not seeing the clear objective.
posted by bookmammal at 4:26 PM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


Even in my company, where the founder and leadership have been explicitly saying its OK to strike, I don't see a lot of women saying they will (guess we'll see tomorrow). The enthusiasm/support level does not seem very high.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:26 PM on March 7, 2017


well, if one of the 4 women in my dept that work on 2nd shift do this, i get forced over 4 hrs

that's not going to make me feel any better

there are places where you can't do this without fucking over your co-workers, you know
posted by pyramid termite at 4:44 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


When this was done in Iceland, the tone was not this adversarial (referring both to the advertising shown in the article, and the comments here). It was called "The women's day off" because it sounds more pleasant, and you can't get fired for taking a day off (at least not in Iceland). The result is the same and the point is made, a majority of women not working basically shuts society down.
posted by fyolnish at 5:00 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


Previous post about Iceland's Women's Day Off.
posted by homunculus at 5:01 PM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


The difference between a strike and a protest is major. We saw the impact and level of coverage we got from the Women's March on January 21st--that was great, and super encouraging. Same with the abortion rights protestors in Poland. People in the streets in huge numbers can be effective where non-general or partial strikes aren't.

Similarly with the immigrants' strike--if your immediate surroundings aren't affected, and if you don't know anyone who's striking, but you may have a vague sense of a diffuse group who are striking, it's less pointed and less likely to leave an impression.
posted by witchen at 5:03 PM on March 7, 2017


THanks for posting. I am in the "this is a bad idea" camp.

the intent of shifting focus from “lean-in feminism” to feminism of the working class, “the 99 percent,”

it is very hard for me to believe they actually developed this strategy in conversation with women who represent the working class. I am no longer in the working class but you can bet your ass that when I was, I would not and could not skip work for something like this. Even now, I don't see the relevance of skipping work. Many other women depend on me being there and doing my work. The work I do is work that helps raise awareness of human needs and issues. It makes zero sense for me to not do my work. Besides which, if you're getting PTO for taking the day off, you're not striking. Striking works in part because it has real consequences and puts people at risk. That is where it draws much of its strength, as a statement.

I guarantee if you the US tried to pass a total ban on abortion, you would see an immediate mass protest and it wouldn't need to be forced or scheduled far in advance. But as others have said, that's a pretty clear and direct and pointed move to respond to. It's unambiguous and it's clear how the unrest is related to the issue on the table. In this case, I am not sure how not going to work is supposed to relate to issues on the table, whatever they are, other than the general ones we all support all the time. It's not clear why and how a strike is supposed to further progress on those issues.

Most of the people I've seen promoting the strike idea are not people with longtime activist involvement or a lot of organizing experience. I think they are excited by the idea of a strike, but very unfamiliar with the conditions which favor and support strike as a tactic. The author of the NYMag piece is a writer and editor who has a BA in Creative Writing and has worked at Gawker and NYMag. She writes about celebrities and about "working women," but she means high-earning working women. I don't see her as a person who is knowledgeable about labor history or about the use of strikes in history, and she doesn't present a cogent case in her piece as to why this would presumably be different than other unremarkable strike efforts.

Just the fact that it didn't appear as an FPP until the day before the event, where the Women's March was already deep in the planning here at least three weeks beforehand with local offshoots and highly networked organizing, is an indicator that this has failed to hit its mark. I'm afraid in my advanced and cynical age one of the things that gets sand most in my craw is poorly conceived and executed activism efforts, because they waste so much valuable energy and have such power to shift perceptions to the negative. I think this was a poorly conceived effort.
posted by Miko at 6:41 PM on March 7, 2017 [14 favorites]


I concur with those who aren't able to strike. I have meetings I can't miss, and using the word "strike" around one union-hating higher-up in particular is a bad idea. Nobody strikes in my office. (I was out on vacation on the February 17 "strike" day, but I really didn't hear shit about that one afterwards.) But even beyond that... what Sequence said. Nothing I do will get done and I'll just have extra avalanche on Thursday, and since I already had to deal with avalanche from being out for work reasons for 1.5 days this week, I don't want MORE avalanche. I don't know of anyone who's doing it, and if we were doing something on a Saturday that wasn't putting livelihoods at risk, I think there'd be a lot more interest.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]


I don't see her as a person who is knowledgeable about labor history

This, a thousand times. My impression is that there are a lot of folks who maybe have a lot of experience with NGO/501c3 organising who are trying to be street activists now, but they're ignoring the people who already have experience with street activism.

The dirty anarchist hippies and the unions know how to do this stuff, so go find those people and ask how to do it. And I know SEIU has provided support to the Women's March and other events, but were they actually consulted on the strike idea? I'd be surprised if they were. A union would know better than to pull something like this bush league strike.

Don't get me wrong, I'll be wearing red, and I'll defend the idea of the strike to anybody outside liberal/leftist activist circles who dares shit-talk it in my presence... But it still seems like a half-cocked mess of an idea, and it should be possible to point that out in friendly company.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:41 PM on March 7, 2017 [8 favorites]


I agree with a lot of people's concerns about the march -- but I do find it a daring protest and perhaps job-safe/politically-safe/convenient resistance activities are not what is called for in times like these. Yeah, it would be great if unions could organize this but for many Americans unions are a thing of the past and can't be depended on to make us safe while we protest against unfair wages, etc. And if the national Right to Work law that Republicans want gets passed, then we all need to ball up and get ready to protest in risky, inconvenient ways to make companies suffer. So I'm hoping this protest has some effect and prepares us for bigger ones in the future. As for me, it's my day off tomorrow, so I'll be protesting but with no real effect, sad to say.
posted by SA456 at 8:20 PM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm all for it. Dress for Success, in Australia, is asking women to donate 1 hour's pay to the charity, in lieu of or in addition to taking the day. I don't know anyone here participating in the strike, or whether there's broad support for it. Nevertheless, as in Iceland, and under the circumstances in the US in particular, but also with the rise of the repressive Right in general, women speaking up for themselves in this way sends a powerful message, and the more of them doing so the louder they speak. Gender inequality is pervasive and harmful. The US seem intent on increasing the problem, and so do many other countries.
posted by lipservant at 8:23 PM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]


Strikes in which people say they support the strike but also volunteer it's OK not to participate if you don't want to annoy management, alienate customers, inconvenience coworkers or will just have to make up the work later anyway reinforce my opinion that many of us on the left (I include myself) have only a vague generational memory of what "to strike" actually means. So agreeing with everyone who is skeptical about this one. Sockermom and others make good points about not striking alone and having support to back up those who *do* suffer retaliation.

I'm not entirely sure it's as clear-cut as privilege vs. no privilege. Unless privilege means "has no kids" and "in a job without serious responsibility and accountability that can turn off completely for a day (no checking your work email, remember!) without consequences". Most high earners and middle-to-middle-upper-class parents are not capable of doing this either without really risking something or other.

Well, privilege is relative and not all the jobs are the same. So for some. But I supervise a group of upper middle class types and for them, and me, and the VP I work for, and almost all my friends the general impact of putting "out of office won't be reachable" on your e-mail and coming back the next day is a few headaches and maybe some annoyed colleagues. People with serious accountability go to off-sites or are stuck on planes or even on vacation camping and manage to pull off being away from their routine for longer periods than 24 hours.
posted by mark k at 8:28 PM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]


@naju: Sorry, I just realized the way I wrote my post it might read like I was singling you out as an example of what I talked about in the first paragraph. That wasn't the intent at all, I was only adding my opinion on the relative "privilege" question.
posted by mark k at 8:35 PM on March 7, 2017


perhaps job-safe/politically-safe/convenient resistance activities are not what is called for in times like these.

Or perhaps that's exactly what's called for. Because we need the widest, most vigorous possible movement, and that means not threatening people's livelihoods - especially when the demands (whatever they are) have no direct relationship to the power of your employer. And in that case, we need to push ourselves to develop the imagination and creativity to generate those new forms of resistance activitiy, rather than lazily rely on poorly-adapted past models that end up catering to the need of the privileged for symbolic action while pushing precariously employed and economically marginalized and actively professionally activist women into the position of bearing too great a cost for a statement with no clear outcome and no means of supporting participants.

This is what I mean. The "strike" is a product of a particular historical timespan and has its most effective home within a particular set of labor contexts. Almost none of the required conditions of a strike are present for a majority of today's workforce. A general strike (as opposed to a mass protest) has rarely been effective in a large and pluralistic society like ours.

Why is it so very hard to be imaginative enough to come up with effective protest actions that are targeted, clear, visible, and don't demand mucking around with your lifeline of employment? Are we really facing that serious a paucity of effective protest ideas? 1. March on Washington. 2. General strike. 3. Postcards?!? I mean - is this really the best we can do? If so, I think we're doomed. We need to be a lot smarter and a lot more creative about this going forward.
posted by Miko at 8:37 PM on March 7, 2017 [14 favorites]


There's a heavily american skew to these reactions, I feel. Specially with the whole "skipping work" vision of it. Labour in america is sadly not the same as labour on the rest of the world.

As an example, my girlfriend works in mass transit, the subway in Buenos Aires. Her labor union is facilitating a strike for all female workers, from 11 to 14, and then letting go to the march, which starts at 17.

Many male friends are donating their daily wages to the women who do strike, and don't have overt employer support.
posted by _Synesthesia_ at 9:38 PM on March 7, 2017 [12 favorites]


I agree with many concerns raised... But sometimes it feels like 90℅ of activism is listening to people tell you that you're doing it wrong. No tactic is perfect, and yes we need to think about how to do better, but...

So, I'm in the whatever you can do from wherever you find yourself standing camp.

I'm the boss at my feminist work place in Canada. Weve got a ton of important work tomorrow that's time sensitive... so I've baked a cake for us to share. I'll wear red, and we will likely talk about how we can make things better for women in our particular sphere.

Yay women! Stop trump and all his ilk.
posted by chapps at 12:12 AM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


In my corner of Canada, there's no support for a women's strike either, but the union has held a luncheon in support of International Women's Day for years. I'm on the planning committee this year and I expect the speeches will be a bit more pointed, to say the least.
posted by peppermind at 12:49 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Striking in Ireland today.

I'm not in Ireland anymore but the small, woman owned, business I work for is closed and I will wear black today.

It might be imperfect, it won't work by itself, but it's still something.
posted by hfnuala at 1:23 AM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


women's strike day a day without privileged women.

....so protest is objectionable/useless if open only to women who can afford to take time off, and it's offered instead that protest that it be only open only to women with the time to write regular 'fact sheets''? Or should protest only be open to women who can travel to Washington DC on a dime? Or should be closed only to women who can travel to Washington DC on a dime? Is it stupid to wear red? What about bumper stickers?

There are so many opportunities for women to tell each other to be quiet, and that's reprehensible. I've seen three articles like this.

I believe the writer is misled if she thinks the strike suggests women shouldn't cook dinner. That's not my understanding, but okay.

"Believe me, I’d love nothing more than to abdicate my parenting responsibilities in solidarity with the strike. "

I mean, then what is this article about? You [writer] want to do it or you think it's not enough or strategic enough? Grab a red sweatshirt, and if you'd rather not, just don't. No real need to sit in judgment about what other women do or don't do. Some of us need an outlet for all of our seething and we'll take what we're able to get. I had an impulse to key someone's car the other day. Frankly, it's best I'm off the streets today.

Jeez.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:34 AM on March 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


Interesting take I heard on the radio, that I'm wondering whether it should have been the approach -

A 14-year-old girl was asked for a comment on her plans. She couldn't take the day off "because I have a chemistry test, ugh", but she is planning on making it an economic strike. She and her friends were planning to just refuse to spend any money for the day. In her case this was translating to having her father drive her to school as opposed to buying her days' fare on the Long Island Railroad, and he was supportive of this.

But...that strikes me as a good alternative. You can go to work and make money, but you won't spend any. The money women spend is just as much a part of the economic landscape as the money we make.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:40 AM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


"Believe me, I’d love nothing more than to abdicate my parenting responsibilities in solidarity with the strike. "

This bothers me too.

The solution that's being passed around here, fwiw, is to have your partner, if he's male, or a male friend take care of your children for the duration of the strike/mobilization. Men can attend, as long as that presence doesn't prevent another woman from doing so.
posted by _Synesthesia_ at 4:45 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


But...that strikes me as a good alternative. You can go to work and make money, but you won't spend any.

That isn't an alternative. It is explicitly one of the pillars of this event, with the promoters encouraging participants to choose one or all of the approaches:
"Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

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

2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).

3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman"
This has always been the plan. If you can take the day off, do that. If you can't take the day off at work but you can do so within your family, do that. If you can't do either of those things because babies need to eat, don't shop. If you can't do any of those things, wear red. Or mix and match.

I am already on record as being somewhat dubious about the impact today's actions will have, but I get the sense that a lot of people here are not really engaging in good faith with anything other than thinkpieces about how stupid this is, and so are reacting to an event that was never going to happen anyway.

These days, I try to prioritize the perspectives of WoC when I consider social action, and I'll share the text of a tweetstorm Brittany Packnett (of BLM) wrote yesterday:
-So, I have to work tomorrow. I promised I'd do a panel at #SXSWEdu to discuss cultural affirmation for kids. BUT, I'll be wearing red.

-I'm hoping tomorrow is not a day where we judge women for their choice to not work or their need to. This is a day of empowerment.

-Whether you see a woman not working or a woman wearing red-or a woman doing neither, think about what we go through to need this day at all.

-If you're mad about the fields that would see mass closures without women, think about pay gaps and living wages.

-If you're mad a school district could be closed on #ADayWithoutWomen, recognize that women have been the backbone of education and deserve $

-If you'd be mad at nurses who participated in #ADayWithoutWomen, think about how many women-dominated fields deserve your advocacy.

-If you're a woman of privilege who can take the day off, think of all the women without who can't afford #ADayWithoutWomen

-#ADayWithoutWomen should be a time to reflect on the respect, dignity + equity women deserve. Don't judge choices-instead, commit to women.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:09 AM on March 8, 2017 [24 favorites]


Meanwhile, Chapel Hill / Carroboro schools closed today.

"We're entrusted with 12,000 students in our community that come through our doors every morning," Nash said. "We have two jobs: one is to educate them and, more importantly, to send them home safely.

"So, when we looked at the numbers, we just didn't want to take that risk today."


Also, this may be my favorite piece of public art ever for the rest of my life.
posted by yoga at 6:25 AM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


Labour in america is sadly not the same as labour on the rest of the world.

Yes, exactly. And so our strategies need to be contextualized to our political societies.

No real need to sit in judgment about what other women do or don't do.


For me it is not about judgment, it is about efficacy. We watched Occupy peter out because it chose poor tactics and did not define an agenda. It could have had a larger and more immediate impact than it did; unfortunately, for many, it became a cartoon movement and let down a lot of its participants in the process. That's the danger of poor tactics - not that different people will choose different modes of resistance, but that poorly designed tactics reflect poorly on our thinking and strategy, and offer the opposition more ammunition to attack, demean, and dismiss the power of our movement.

This day will be as successful as it is. People will choose to participate at some level or not. Plenty of people have already chosen other relatively ineffective feel-good tactics with little impact. I just want to encourage thinking with deeper rigor about how to use our very real strength in pointed, clear, inclusive, and effective ways.

International Women's Day represented an awesome opportunity. A strike is simply not the best choice of symbolic observance of the day. We whiffed this one.
posted by Miko at 6:27 AM on March 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


strike is simply not the best choice of symbolic observance of the day.

Again, in America. iirc, there's around 46 adhering countries. I agree that protest needs to be contextualized, but as an international effort, there's only so much that can be done while maintaining efficacy.

And in my opinion, the abject horror of american work culture has more to do with the failure to mobilize you describe, than the tactics themselves.
posted by _Synesthesia_ at 6:41 AM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]




The attitude about this strike in this thread is astounding and disheartening to me.

We should be supporting the people who are trying to make a statement. They're trying to go about a protest in a peaceful and lawful way.

It might not be all inclusive, and it might have some problems, but protests aren't one single act that resonates throughout history. You have to build up to that point. This is trending on social media. I know of several school districts that are closed today. It might not be as massive as the Women's March, but it's making ripples. It's a net positive. Not every action of a movement has to have a 'I have a dream' moment.

Seriously. "Go Team!" to the the women who are striking today. "Go Team!" to the women who have to work or cook to support their family, today. Neither are less or more then the other.
posted by INFJ at 6:54 AM on March 8, 2017 [10 favorites]


I have a deadline and work for a corporation that boots employees if they so much as breathe the word "strike." However, I can work from home today, not spend any money, and make a donation. No one will see if I wear red, but I can put a suffragette quote on my work IM status.

It feels stupidly small. I'm cynical AF about its effectiveness, but I'm doing it anyway. This isn't feel-good activism for me. I don't feel good about it at all. Par for the course in SCROTUS America?

(In the vein of yes I said yes I will Yes' awesome lesson plan, KEXP is streaming all women artists today.)
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 6:58 AM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


If folks feel that participating in this strike is constructive, then I'm not going to fault them for participating.

That said: I don't get it. I admit that I'm not very knowledgeable about strikes or labor movements. But I always thought that, in order for a strike to be effective, it must (a) have clear demands, (b) be sustained until those demands are met, and (c) be widespread enough to inconvenience those with the power to satisfy the demands. This strike meets none of those criteria.

Regarding (a): although I participated in the Women's March and fully support their overall agenda, it's just not clear what this strike is demanding. The official site certainly doesn't spell it out. I guess the demand is something like "end institutional sexism" – but, sadly, there is no single organization with the power to do that. It's too big and complex a target. This is effectively more of an "awareness" campaign than a strike.

Regarding (b): a strike which is scheduled to end at a predetermined time, unrelated to its target's action or inaction, does nothing to encourage its target to change.

Regarding (c): as others have aptly noted, only the few and privileged will be able to participate in this strike, and the majority of them (I assume) will just be taking a day of PTO. They were probably going to be taking that PTO sometime anyway, so it will cause zero inconvenience for employers (who aren't even the primary target of the action).

I mean, if participants spend their day off doing activism, or even building solidarity with other participants, then that's awesome. I just don't expect a one-day walkout itself to have much impact.

I'm open to counterarguments. I do hope the momentum generated by the Women's March will last, and will continue to expand its tactics.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:05 AM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


This is effectively more of an "awareness" campaign than a strike.

This is exactly what it is. It's not a strike in the traditional sense. It's a big awareness ribbon in a different form. In this regard, strike just means "Don't work today not because of a personal reason (PTO/Vacay, STO), but because of a social reason."

It's just a more abstract use of the word strike.

It's all about making statements. People are getting tripped up on the actual definitions of the thing and not the intent behind it.
posted by INFJ at 7:17 AM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


it's just a more abstract use of the word strike

Yes, that's the attempt, but I think it's fair to insist that that word mean something specific. Fuzzying the notion of what a 'strike' is isn't helpful when a concrete worker action needs to take place. Again, this is a moment where I think middle-class, securely employed perspectives are overriding labor priorities, and that concerns me.
posted by Miko at 7:26 AM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, I notice the official "Day Without a Woman" page never uses the word "strike" in regards to its own action list, and only says "we are inspired by...the "Bodega Strike" and "stand in solidarity with the International Women's Strike." They have made an effort to pointedly not call their action list a strike, and I appreciate that.
posted by Miko at 7:30 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Normally today would be the second day of my work-week weekend, with LobsterMitten and restless_nomad working the eight hour morning and evening shifts respectively. I offered to take both their shifts today because, shit, I can do that, and however muddled the organization behind today's action may be I'm not going to make it more effective by letting perfect be the enemy of good.

Even as tiny a company as we are, there's not a day on MetaFilter that doesn't benefit, not just in some abstract sense but in terms of vital operations, from women doing hard work to shepherd and maintain this community. LM, RN, Eyebrows McGee, and taz are why this place is as workable as it is; the foundational work and thoughtfulness of Jessamyn guided it from its nascent early days into a more robust and thoughtful and just community. This site could not operate without them.

Nor would it be as good or interesting or enriching a site and community as it is without the great many women who participate here, who share interesting links and respond to their fellow user's questions and sometimes ask the community and the mod staff hard questions.

MetaFilter's a tiny part of the puzzle and today's action may be at best symbolic, but given the scope of regressive and misogynist forces in ascendence in US and world politics and culture recently I think it's worth making every little effort possible to recognize and show solidarity on a day that is as good as any for it. We can worry about doing more and doing better next time, too.
posted by cortex at 7:53 AM on March 8, 2017 [44 favorites]


Why does every part of activism have to fit into a perfect box? To borrow Orange Dinosaur Slide's words, why isn't it ok to have feel-bad activism? Why can't it be messy and incorrect?

You can't have anything this big fit all under the same tent. If it has to, we might as well not bother. It's never going to be all inclusive.

The goal should be not to piss on the people who can't participate and cheer on those who can. No one should shame Orange Dinosaur Slide for their minor actions, or me for being at work because I didn't want to use up my PTO. I don't see anyone doing that. (I see much more 'eyeroll, feminists am I right?' on social media right now)

Look at this forest instead of the trees.

The important thing is that when women's rights have made the right strides - we don't stop half way. Privileged people have everything they asked for? Great! Now lets fight to make sure non-privileged people have the same thing. (Which I think is why it's important not to have a defined list of goals. Right now it's just a bar of 'not acceptable enough' and I think we need to keep pushing until the bar hits 'outstandingly acceptable' even if we don't quite know what that means.)

The attitude in this thread comes off as a version of the societal conditioning of women to be mean and shitty to other women. After all, if we're fighting amongst ourselves about not being inclusive enough patriarchy can go on being patriarchal.
posted by INFJ at 7:54 AM on March 8, 2017 [8 favorites]


If Day Without A Woman isn't a strike, someone needs to notify the Women's March social media team.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:06 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).

I was really kicking myself because I was too lazy to go to the market yesterday but there's really nothing substantial to eat in the house. Then I read this and remembered I could buy tamales from the woman at the bus stop down the block. Win-win, because I'm not sure I would have made it to dinner without buying something. Tiny gestures add up, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:26 AM on March 8, 2017


Yes, the word from my feeds is that most people I know will not be striking but will be pushing to wear red. I considered striking, but it would mean fucking my students over shortly before an exam, and realistically I am already distracted enough from my paid work as it is and have dealt with my boss gently prodding me to try and get my head back in the game... and I have to get my ass on the job market in a few years; I can't afford to let my work quality fall off too much because I'm devoting effort elsewhere.

And I'm not, as I consider it, working class. I mean, my pay doesn't reflect class status for sure--my partner, who is a pawnbroker, and I both make about the same amount of money right now--but the flexibility my work offers me and the freedom to, e.g., take a lunch break and more or less set my own hours gives me a lot of ability to take time for a movement on relatively short notice. My friends and roomie in retail, service work, or otherwise working in shopfronts just don't have that flexibility; most of them don't even know what day off they'll have or what their exact hours will be more than a week in advance.

My partner is "striking" inasmuch as today happens to be their day off, and we might go to a Planned Parenthood rally this evening, and I'm wearing a red shirt. As with the Day without Immigrants, we won't be purchasing anything today, either... but this doesn't feel like it has enough momentum to risk my job, especially not when I already feel like I'm on thin ice as it is. Especially not when there's no safety net for women whose jobs object. I keep seeing people use all this to criticize strikes as not effective tactics, but I feel like asking people to risk their livelihoods without committing to support them when the consequences fall is pretty terrifying and unkind.
posted by sciatrix at 8:36 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I took the day off and donated a day of my pay to a women's charity because I am privileged enough to be able to do so. All of the other women on my team are out, too. I checked into my work Slack channel and it's just a handful of men working today. I took a screenshot because it's cool to see how much of the team is comprised of important, powerful women. They're toothless without us today!
posted by theraflu at 8:40 AM on March 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


"The attitude in this thread comes off as a version of the societal conditioning of women to be mean and shitty to other women"

I've had the same thought, but in a slightly different way. To me many of the comments against this resistance seem to be a product of societal conditioning that keeps women "in their place." Instead of participating by taking a day off and dealing with the consequences, commenters are arguing that the action is not organized well enough, could risk the loss of a job, doesn't take into account the importance of my presence at the job and with my family, isn't some perfect ideal of an action to be a part of, etc. etc. which makes me worry that as women we all too often accept our oppression with the patriarchal balm that women are important in as long they don't threaten the system that makes our lives so insecure. If our jobs are so insecure that taking the day off and participating risks us losing our jobs, isn't that enough justification for participating? I know that my husband, if he decided to take the day off to participate in something that was important to him, he'd have no worries about his job or our family suffering in any way -- but we do, and we need to ask ourselves why that is.
posted by SA456 at 8:55 AM on March 8, 2017 [7 favorites]


But...doesn't that kinda say some women should lose their jobs to protest that their jobs are unstable and unfair? Because that would be "dealing with the consequences" for many.
posted by agregoli at 9:03 AM on March 8, 2017 [4 favorites]


If people want to ignore the lessons of history and relearn a bunch of shit they could have just found out by talking other people who've been there and done it, then that's their choice and they can go ahead and do that. But maybe they shouldn't, is all I'm saying.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:07 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I stand corrected re: economic strikes being part of the plan all along.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:31 AM on March 8, 2017


If our jobs are so insecure that taking the day off and participating risks us losing our jobs, isn't that enough justification for participating?

This doesn't scan, for me. Imagine if labor unions did this--announcing a strike at a place where they'd never even spoken to most of the workers, and many of those workers were not secure in their employment? And then just hoping that people showed up? Would it work, if only a few people showed up? There can be a real thing that warrants protesting, but that doesn't mean that it necessarily justifies a particular form of protest, if that form is both high-risk and questionable-reward.
posted by Sequence at 9:46 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


"But...doesn't that kinda say some women should lose their jobs to protest that their jobs are unstable and unfair? Because that would be "dealing with the consequences" for many."

Yes. Because when one is caught in a situation where one's job is so unstable and unfair, one ought to risk jumping off that sinking ship. This reminds me so much of what my mom went through when I was a kid back in the 60s. She wanted a full time job. My stepdad allowed her no financial independence or security of any kind. In response, my step-dad gave her the typical patriarchal one-two punch that we're still being given: No, you can't get a job because the family and home depend on you (the soft punch), quickly followed by "if you do, I'll divorce you" (the hard punch). Her friends advised her not to take the risk because of the possible consequences of impoverishment etc. She persisted and got the job, my step-father kept to his word and divorced her, and she did indeed have a difficult time for a few years establishing her independence. But when she was married she was in an insecure, unstable situation that was never going to get better and would have lasted for the rest of her life had she not risked getting what she wanted. She got what she wanted, did well at her work, raised her family well, and she doesn't look back at her decision with any regrets. To move beyond instability, insecurity, unfairness and oppression takes a lot of risk. And to me, taking the day off for this action hardly measures up to the risk my mom -- and many other women have taken to secure themselves a better future.
posted by SA456 at 9:54 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


The amount of risk any one woman takes on thru protest for it to be "worth it" isn't up to anyone but the woman taking the risk. You can't decide that for someone else's life. A personal anecdote does not suffice...let's not compare women and their lives, eh?
posted by agregoli at 10:04 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can’t tell you with certainty what will create the necessary momentum to defeat fascism, but I can tell you what won’t: a circular firing squad of movement critics.

From a great piece by Kelly Hayes.
posted by carrienation at 10:16 AM on March 8, 2017 [9 favorites]


For me it is not about judgment, it is about efficacy. We watched Occupy peter out because it chose poor tactics and did not define an agenda. It could have had a larger and more immediate impact than it did; unfortunately, for many, it became a cartoon movement and let down a lot of its participants in the process. That's the danger of poor tactics - not that different people will choose different modes of resistance, but that poorly designed tactics reflect poorly on our thinking and strategy, and offer the opposition more ammunition to attack, demean, and dismiss the power of our movement.

JFC this revisionist crap recycled from MSM talking points again. Occupy did not peter out because it chose poor tactics/did not define an agenda (the second of which - come on, that's laughable). It was violently broken up, but many occupy activists (and another btw, a large number of key organizers are/were labor scholars, historians, previously active in other movements like ACT UP, etc.) continued to quietly work on these issues in groups that formed in its wake. Additionally, there was a shift in national conversations around income disparity, social safety nets, etc. that hadn't been happening much at all previously. Because an activist movement disbanded doesn't mean it was ineffective or poorly considered.

I'm not formerly striking today (I'm a freelancer right now and I don't have any teaching workshops or contract design work scheduled) but I am a long-term activist deeply involved with a group that's now evolved to have a primarily feminist labor focus with intersectionality as a core mission. We weren't part of any planning of this action although our members have been key organizers in other actions and strikes that centered around precarious labor and low-wage labor strikes in fields that are primarily composed of women and/or people of color, many of whom are recent immigrants.

We've collectively and individually participated in a number of teach-ins, study groups, labor research over the last several years and have been in ongoing dialog around the history and efficacy of strikes, and in particular the feasibility of a general strike a few years ago and again more recently. All of the challenges, critiques, problematic issues, etc. have come up and continue to be addressed in these discussions.

Yes, this particular strike at this moment in time is only feasible for a certain subset of women. Yes, an organized labor strike needs to have a support system in place for the workers who are striking. No, that system doesn't exist at this moment in history in the U.S.. In fact, that support system doesn't exist for most workers at all anymore, and even when it did, having that union support didn't make striking all that mush less risky or dangerous for many of the workers participating.

Some of our group are striking in solidarity today, most of us are finding ways to support our sisters who *can* strike by showing support in a variety of other, alternative ways. Or to bastardize: For each according to their ability, etc.

For anyone lamenting that resistance needs to be more creative, more imaginative, here's a challenge: why not find a creative, imaginative way to support the spirit of what the strike is trying to (imperfectly) accomplish that also steers the messaging in a way you prefer. This is always going to be a work in progress. In fact, people can simultaneously show support for today's strikers while still helping to organize even better and more widespread actions for the future. It's possible!

A side note: IMO holding out for a unified action that not only deeply challenges our current structural inequalities but also displays "more perfect optics" is an exercise in futility. We need to make sure that everyone from every facet of society is included and helps inform and steer future actions, and we need to make sure as many people as possible are able to participate, but not because that's somehow going to play better in the media. Any action that inconveniences the status quo is going to get huge pushback and that's to be expected. Watering down actions in order for them to be less disruptive to the usual order of things so that activists get a cookie from the major media outlets shouldn't be a primary goal.
posted by stagewhisper at 10:20 AM on March 8, 2017 [14 favorites]


"I can’t tell you with certainty what will create the necessary momentum to defeat fascism, but I can tell you what won’t: a circular firing squad of movement critics."

carrienation - thank you for this! While reading and participating in this thread, the image of the sculpture of male politicians drowning while debating climate change kept running through my head and I couldn't figure out how to adapt that image to the current critiques going on here. But 'circular firing squad' is perfect. I need to stop being part of this firing squad and get out to my local protest.
posted by SA456 at 10:25 AM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]


I have seen almost no criticism by those who can strike of those who cannot, while I have seen tons of criticism by those who cannot, or don't want to, of those who choose to do it. Those who can't participate, or wish not to, seem to think that there is a heavy sense of obligation from those who are participating, a pressure to risk their jobs or take on huge economic burdens, but I've seen almost nothing of this. Everything I've seen asks people to participate if they can and want to, and don't if they can't. As far as I can tell, the "circular" firing squad is almost exclusively firing from one side. Yeah, this is an imperfect demonstration, but the idea that it is so counter-productive that we would be better off without it seems rather extreme. Yeah, other things will probably be more effective, but this really isn't in competition with those other things. Everything brings more attention, even the imperfect. One inevitable drawback of the march was just how perfect it was -- but everything can't live up to that standard. We're going to need a lot of experimental stuff, and it's hard to see the benefit of a fierce criticism of the experimenters, instead of just letting the experiment run and seeing what happens.

[On preview, that piece by Hayes puts it even better.]
posted by chortly at 10:46 AM on March 8, 2017 [6 favorites]


JFC this revisionist crap recycled from MSM talking points again.

Insulting; please give me a little credit. I'm a "long-time activist" too, and participated in Occupy.

Here's the thing - we've got to get comfortable with dissension and better at co-strategizing. This discussion sounds eerily like the ones that nearly tanked the Women's March and poisoned Pantsuit Nation - women telling one another to stop complaining about lack of inclusion or poorly tuned strategy and just be quiet and march in step, that we are a "circular firing squad" if we raise an issue of voice a disagreement. That's not what an intersectional movement is going to look like. I'm not criticizing those who choose to strike. I'm criticizing the overall strategy for this day that initially promoted strike more loudly than associated actions. If you support the strike, go ahead and strike. If you don't, and you want to talk about your reasons and hope they provoke a more progressive set of future actions, that needs to be fine, too. We need to be able to debate tactics without asking each other to just be quiet about the ways in which they're exclusive or counterproductive.
posted by Miko at 10:55 AM on March 8, 2017 [5 favorites]


The issue, I think, is that some women are being harmed by the strike whether they can participate in it or not. [Note: I am a man, so my opinion on the subject is irrelevant, but I can present an anecdote without editorialization.]

A very good friend who is a liberal activist and single mother had to arrange on 12 hours' notice to bring her kids (ages 8 and 5) to her job (where she works for and with all women) because her kids' school system closed due to lack of teachers, and she cannot miss work because she used up all her paid sick leave during cold and flu season.

I suppose the response is that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette, but I can understand the accusations of privilege. [Noting, again, that my opinion is not relevant to the conversation.]
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:24 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm in the camp of I don't like this strike idea. But that said, it's not on me to poo poo on all of the non-socially conscious women who barely have a toe in the door of activism.

I think what we're seeing now is the double-bind of activism and the norm: that the norm is just so fucking pervasive that the social circles of activism that have formed are just not created in a way that caters to them. They are created to cater to the folx who don't mind holding space on a gov't official's lawn and getting arrested for it, not your working professional with a career whose most radical thing is reading the smuttiest Harlequin novel she can find.

For me, at least, instead of ranting about this particular strike (well, publically at least - my friends have heard an earful), I went ahead and came up with a list of local, women-of-color led organizations for folx to dump money into. It's gotten a lot of traction in my racial justice focused social group - it's gotten barely any traction in the Women's March group for my city, though.

It's, like stagewhisper says, a gradual thing. The national organizers are organizing for the midterms; for those of us here on the ground, whose needs are more pressing, we have to tool our message to this norm that's just starting to get involved.

It's frustrating but that's life.
posted by runt at 1:57 PM on March 8, 2017


I was forwarded this email by a (female) professor in the department where I received my Ph.D. I thought it was very powerful, and perhaps speaks a bit to some of the discussion here over the merits of the Day Without A Woman. I'm pretty certain the professor in question would have no problem with having her name attached to it, but just in case I've lightly redacted it.
Dear Colleagues:

I would like to publicly express my thanks to [male departmental chair] for his explicit support of those of us who will choose to celebrate International Women’s Day by participating in the #DayWithoutAWoman. We are fortunate to be part of a community where diversity is openly embraced.

Though many women plan to participate in the general strike called by the movement, far more will find themselves unable to take off work, and others may simply find the concept of a strike to be too foreign to embrace. Yet the stakes are too high to passively let this moment drift by.

Think of it this way – women contribute 50% of the labor on which our society is based, and yet we have had 45 male presidents in a row. Not exactly representative government.

As [another awesome female faculty member] nicely articulated in a Facebook post, "If the idea of striking feels deeply weird, I get it. Women can generally be counted on to step up. But if you keep stepping up, your contributions can become invisible and unappreciated, and this can hurt the very institutions you are trying to assist, like your family, your job, your country. Stepping back for some period of time - and it can be 15 minutes, an hour, a day, in ways large and small - can help society SEE how much depends on women.”

What can you do? State your opinion. Join a protest. Support a female-owned business. Call your Congressional representatives. Thank your mother. Post a sign. Send an email. Sky’s the limit – do what seems right in your life. But do something today to make a difference.

In my own little strikelet, I’m going off email for a day, and, following [female faculty member]’s lead, I have posted an auto-reply out-of-office message (copied below) honoring a woman who went before me and who did so much to make my path and the path of many other women scientists possible. And I’m telling you about it.

Vocally yours,
[A badass woman scientist]

Out-of-office message:
In honor of International Women's Day and the #DayWithoutAWoman, I will not be reading or responding to email today, Wednesday March 8th, 2017. I dedicate this day to Dr. Miriam (Mika) Salpeter, a neurobiologist and champion of women in science who, through her dedication to both her work and her family, had a significant impact on science.

Dr. Salpeter graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Hunter College in NYC, then received her PhD in Psychology from Cornell University in 1953. She stayed on as a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Zoology at Cornell, where she fell in love with the new technique of electron microscopy and became a world expert in the anatomy of the vertebrate neuromuscular junction. Mika’s papers from this work continue to stand as classics of this literature.

Despite her exceptional scientific contributions, when Dr. Salpeter finished her postdoc, Cornell did not offer her a position on the faculty. Mika was married to a Cornell physicist and was the mother of two young girls. There was explicit disbelief among the Cornell administration that academic performance could be combined with motherhood, and, despite evidence to the contrary, Dr. Salpeter was judged on the basis of her sex not her accomplishments.

Nevertheless, Dr. Salpeter persisted in her investigations, working without the title and privilege of her male colleagues, but making essential contributions to her field. In 1967 when a new department of Neurobiology and Behavior was created at Cornell, Dr. Salpeter was finally granted the faculty position she had earned and deserved. She quickly received numerous awards for her work, was promoted to full professor in 1973, and became Chair of her department in 1982. Dr. Salpeter worked in her lab daily until her untimely death from thyroid cancer in 2000 at the age of 71.

In addition to her scientific studies, Dr. Salpeter was a powerful role model for women in science and a tireless advocate for women’s rights. I had the great fortune to meet Dr. Salpeter in 1987 over lunch at a forum on Women in Science when I was a Cornell undergraduate, and I’ll never forget the passion and confidence she exuded in her conversations with us. In recognition of her importance as a mentor for young women scientists, in 2000 the Society for Neuroscience established the Miriam Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award to honor individuals with outstanding career achievements in neuroscience who have also significantly promoted the professional advancement of women in neuroscience.

Mika succeeded because she was a triple threat – she cared about her science, her family, and her community. Be like Mika.

For more information about Mika Salpeter, see here:
https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/18435/Salpeter_Miriam_Mika_2000.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
posted by biogeo at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2017 [10 favorites]


not your working professional with a career whose most radical thing is reading the smuttiest Harlequin novel she can find

Can we please not indulge in this sort of stereotype? I agree that we're dealing with a whole lot of people new to activism. But can we please not caricature them in such a way?
posted by Miko at 2:26 PM on March 8, 2017 [12 favorites]


I took a day off work today and went to a march in Ireland, because I can. I am too old to need abortion rights for myself, but I have two daughters and even if I didn't, every other young woman in this country needs my help. I know not everyone can turn up for every march/strike/whatever, but if you can, that's a good thing! I can't do much myself, but I want my voice to be heard, whether I'm considered privileged or not.
posted by Samarium at 2:49 PM on March 8, 2017 [7 favorites]


So I participated today, but it was easy for me to take a vacation day, and the person at work who suffers the most from my absence is me tomorrow when I have to do get two days' worth of work done. It was also a good day for me to get personal unpaid work done (so, like, not totally in keeping with the idea of the day), like getting all my paperwork in and pulling papers to run for local office (I'm running for city council, whoo-hoo!). Our mayor is amazing and sponsored a women's lunch for any women in the city who wanted to get together, network, and talk next steps for the resistance. It was a room full of red, and everyone was really happy to have a time and place to get together. Also, seeing everyone wearing red today and giving each other smiles and nods of acknowledgement was really nice.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 2:51 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]




For me it is not about judgment, it is about efficacy. We watched Occupy peter out because it chose poor tactics and did not define an agenda.

What? Occupy created a conversation around economic equality, and it has had an enormous impact on electoral politics. IDGI
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:21 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]




^ I really like this comment a lot chortly. The DC Women's march did get a lot of positive press and seeing the numbers that turned out across the nation was heartening.

"One inevitable drawback of the march was just how perfect it was -- but everything can't live up to that standard."

I was at the march in DC, and I'm not disparaging it by any means, but as inspiring as the numbers and range of ages that turned out was, I found it to be *shockingly* lacking in racial and ethnic diversity (yes, there were some amazing groups representing a plethora of minority and religious organizations, but the overall complexion of the crowd there was Just So White). The march wasn't perfect in its inclusivity by any means, but despite that failing I believe it was still largely worthwhile and successful.

Also, this majority whiteness imo was a contributing factor to why its optics and media coverage was so positive- so many nice white ladies, so many of them thanking the police and having their photos taken with them. Again, I'm not criticizing the march or the participants- I'm a nice (well, the jury is out on whether I pass there) middle aged white lady too. But these things aren't "perfect" in a vacuum.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:10 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


I worked the day, so I donated the day's wages. Then I made the mistake of arguing with people on facebook about the response from the strike organizers that veered into weird Hillary relitigating and now i'm inexplicably vexed here in my kitchen. so it goes
posted by nixon's meatloaf at 6:10 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


So Now There's a Girl on Wall Street (Jezebel, March 8, 2017)
For International Women’s Day, ad agency McCann New York and investment firm State Street Global Advisors have placed a sculpture named The Fearless Girl across from the famous Wall Street Charging Bull statue in Lower Manhattan’s Bowling Green Park. The fearless girl stares down the Wall Street bull because she is fearless and believes that she is at least equal to a bull.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:30 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Samarium.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:43 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]




pyramid termite: "there are places where you can't do this without fucking over your co-workers, you know"

Strikes always fuck people over. The whole point is to introduce pain to get people to pay attention.
posted by Mitheral at 10:36 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]


The whole point is to introduce pain to get people to pay attention.

Well...that might be a llittle simplistic. Narrowly speaking, the whole point of a strike is to organize workers in a company or industry to stop the work process in order to extract concessions from their employer or force their employer to negotiate. It works because both sides have a stake in it. Strikes also impact the market for whatever the product is, and the pain experienced by that market manifests itself as pressure on the employer to settle. So this system of striking works, when it has worked, because of the web of relationships in which the actions impact people with a strong and close relationship to the work - as employee, employer, or consumer.

What some seem to have wanted this day to become or thought this day was was a general strike - which began as something related to work, but today is not limited to any particular industry or associated with any particular demand other than taking down capitalist structures, broadly speaking. General strikes have been rare and not too successful in the past century in the United States. The tactic is associated with anarchist (rather than social-democratic) political tactics, and was designed and theorized to meet aims that have more to do with destabilizing the elite than with making a particular political point or exacting a concession.

AT the very least, I think the people who took action yesterday did so for a wide variety of reasons and not everyone was focused on taking down capitalism. That heterogeneity of motivation and message is one of the things that made it lack a bit of the punch it might otherwise have had. There is a faction of people who see this and, given their own organizing flavor and predilection, immediately say "yeah! General strike!," but there are other factions that came aboard for other, or more narrow, messages who would not be on board with the notion "disrupt everything" that fuels the general strike.
posted by Miko at 4:46 PM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]


They are created to cater to the folx who don't mind holding space on a gov't official's lawn and getting arrested for it, not your working professional with a career whose most radical thing is reading the smuttiest Harlequin novel she can find.

Over the course of a lifetime, it's possible that a human experience, even a woman's, can encompass marches and the twenty-hour bus rides it takes to get there, demonstrations, the giving of money, the writing of political letters, symbolic gestures, that she can be both a creative person with a creative person's product and a professional and a mother or not and be uncompromising in beliefs and she can make a lot of money or just a little money and if she makes a lot of money that doesn't make her stupid. It's possible for working professional women to read cruddy novels for fun or to not make a lot of money and still read cruddy novels for fun and nobody should feel like they have to apologize. There is an enormous continuum of human experience and not everything a woman does has to be evaluated by other people for its fucking utility or purity or strategy.

This whole discussion remains repugnant.

Many of us have been sickened and dizzy with rage for months. If we're not drinking ourselves senseless, screwing up our relationships with other human beings or fucking off to the outer regions of blissful denial we are doing okay.

Lastly, and I mean this generally, it's okay to not weigh in. I think my two comments on this thread are about the entirety of my contributions to political threads since November. I have appreciated the degree to which others have informed me and articulated my anger and despair. Generally, I think everyone does a wonderful job and I'm grateful to be a consumer of these threads. I have learned so much, and I'm grateful to be a part of this community. But I would very much like to see people lay off the coldhearted analysis of other women's motivations and the worth of their gestures. People are in pain and doing the best they can and a lot of this comes off as a banal pissing contest among who really "gets" social justice or deserves to ride first in a parade of high horses. It would be a true delight if that were this country's actual problem.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:57 PM on March 9, 2017 [12 favorites]


Activism always contains uncomfortable conversations, and I'm sympathetic to that. Still, it's not 'coldhearted' to talk analysis and tactics. On the contrary, it can be a sign of passion and commitment, and it is necessary that at least some people engage in it, even as others make different choices for their involvement. I'm sure the ongoing conversation won't come to an end here.
posted by Miko at 8:33 AM on March 10, 2017


I should have said 'cold-blooded' and we will have to agree to disagree.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:12 AM on March 10, 2017


"Cold-blooded" has the connotation of being indifferent and cruel, and I don't think that's less insulting than "cold-hearted." I don't think a whit of cruelty is intended by people who critique tactics. It will be tense sometimes. Take what you need, disregard the rest.
posted by Miko at 5:56 PM on March 10, 2017


I don't think a whit of cruelty is intended by people who critique tacticS

I should hope not..
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:27 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


This might be of interest to some here. It's a donation-based tuition paid at the end of the course- you can pay nothing or whatever you want.

The Game Changer Intensive is an 8-week course that prepares you to engage in effective collective action in the world.
posted by Miko at 10:16 AM on March 16, 2017


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