BY LISA MARIE BASILE
2017 has been a fucking doozy. Not only are we contending with having a narcissistic, power-hungry, women-hating, environmentally and educationally disengaged, immigrant-loathing, racist, homophobic, shitty-diapered billionaire man-baby as the leader of the free world, we’re trying to fight against him and his crew in a way that is inclusive, that doesn’t ignore years of history and that actually makes an impact. It’s a lot, and for that women should be given credit. Our generation is radical, fierce and hard-working. Yes.
I don’t want to say it’s not good enough (because I love women and damn it, change is happening) because it’s good. And I don’t want to say we’re all divided or we’re doing it all wrong. That’s tiring and can't be generalized. But I also don’t want to coddle anyone; any movement has its weaknesses. Ours as well.
Turning a critical eye is good for us. It means we’re checking in and saying, "Is this working?"
That’s why we need to talk about the Strike.
My grandmother worked into old age – when she was very old and ill, she still sold small things (nail polish, trinkets, what have you) at local markets. Her husband had died at 63. She didn’t reap many benefits. My mother, a nursing assistant, worked long days (many double shifts) to care for my brother and I. She was a single parent, she had health issues, and she had no resources. No husband to help her. No nannies, no maids, no living parents, no siblings. No good health care of her own.
I’ve worked since I was 16 – usually full-time, always without very many paid time off or work from home days. Still, I have many luxuries that my mother and her mother and my immigrant family did not have, and I recognize that.
Which is why striking isn’t an option for me. It’s not just about needing the money from work. It’s about choice.
The Strike is both a protest and a privilege, and we all know it. Same for the march. I took part, I marched, I snapped photos and shared them, and I too applauded the many women who got out there and took a stand.
But we all know the problem. We need to step-up in the name of all women. Many, many of us are. But many, many of us are not. We need to step up for poor women. Black women. Hispanic women. Disable women. Immigrant women. The work we do going forward must be rooted in a truly intersectional approach and mindset. Yes, that means taking the focus off of ourselves.
Plenty of women are going to strike tomorrow, to work paid and unpaid, to caring for their children. They’re saying no because they have been historically underpaid and unappreciated, devalued and silenced. But many women are striking because they can.
I am sure there will be an impact made tomorrow, but I think making a case for women is going to need more than one day, especially if that day doesn't include everyone.
As a reminder:
In the United States, according to jec.senate.gov:
- Percentage of hourly workers in 2015 who were female was 50.5%
- Percentage of hourly workers making the minimum wage or less in 2015 who were female: 62.6%
- Percentage of hourly workers making the minimum wage or less in 2015 who were black or African American: 18..8%
- Percentage of hourly workers making the minimum wage or less in 2015 who were Hispanic or Latino: 17.9%
I share this information because we can’t just advocate for one cause; we need to be striking or marching or speaking out for many. When we empathically root for the strike, we should also know what it means to struggle. What it might mean for a woman who has been systemically oppressed.
Millions of women, domestically and internationally, don't have the choice not to work. Other women, like those that are undocumented, don’t even have work opportunities, or a chance toward education so they can find a job. They don’t have the choice to protest, either. They don’t get a voice.
Other women can’t take the day off because they have bills to pay, babies to feed, kids to babysit, health care payments to make. Other women aren’t living in a community where protest or strike is tolerated, where being a woman means being subservient and accepting the status quo. The list goes on and on.
That’s why, if we have a voice, it needs to be one that speaks for everyone.
We can march and we can strike and we can share our articles and talk to our networks. After all, going to a protest or taking part in a strike isn’t inherently problematic. But when we take the day off to show the world how painful it is without women, we need to recognize that we’re late, that we’re divided, that we’re responsible for all women. Not just those who look like we do. More than striking for women’s rights, we need to strike and march against the poor treatment and lack of opportunity for minority women and women in other countries. We need to recognize that our movement is broken, even if we are good at heart.
How do we make our protests and strikes more meaningful and inclusive? We can take part in community meetings, we can listen to others, we can ask how we can help, we can ask that community meetings are accessible to everyone, we can organize meet-ups, we can go to Town Halls and events, we can fight on behalf of immigrant mothers, we can speak up for the needs of minority women, we can make an effort to break out of our bubbles, we can take the time to consider a cause and think, "Who is this really helping?" We can help to educate others. We don’t have to think that a march or a protest every few weeks is enough. We can question even good causes. That doesn’t make us radical or ungrateful or negative. That makes us better.
Tomorrow, March 8, Luna Luna won’t be taking the day off. We’ll be engaging with our followers on social media and opening a space for discussion around the strike and International Women’s Day.
Still want to take part? Here is what you can do, as per Joanna C. Valente's post.
Lisa Marie Basile is the founding editor-in-chief of Luna Luna Magazine and moderator of its digital community. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Bustle, Bust, Hello Giggles, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and The Huffington Post, among other sites. She is the author of Apocryphal (Noctuary Press), war/lock (Hyacinth Girl Press), Andalucia (The Poetry Society of New York) and Triste (Dancing Girl Press). Her work can be found in PANK, the Tin House blog, The Nervous Breakdown, The Huffington Post, Best American Poetry, PEN American Center, The Atlas Review, and the Ampersand Review, among others. She has taught or spoken at Brooklyn Brainery, Columbia University, New York University and Emerson College. Lisa Marie Basile holds an MFA from The New School. @lisamariebasile