I'm Not Striking On International Women's Day Because That's Exactly What Trump Wants
On Wednesday, March 8, million of women across the country are going on strike to prove a thing or two to our current President Donald Trump, the workforce, and the world. And I get the sentiment. But I’m not striking on March 8. I am lucky in that I have never had to fight for birth control, or Plan B, or an abortion, and I am well aware of the privilege of having health insurance that has never discriminated against the care I rightly needed. Because my dad was in the Navy when I was a child, I’ve never known what a lack-of healthcare meant. I also have premature ovarian failure, and even most Fortune 500 companies don't cover fertility treatments, so as I not need access to birth control or safe abortion, I personally have little to revolt against. But that’s not why I’m not striking.
I stand in solidarity with every other woman who chooses to strike on Wednesday, International Women’s Day, and I support their rights and their continued fights for visibility. But I’m not striking because I believe that striking is exactly what President Donald Trump wants, and I absolutely don’t want to give him that. Long before his presidency began, Trump made his feelings on women clear. He once infamously told a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine that, no one would vote for his former rival Carly Fiorina because of her face, and he followed that up with the suggestion that women should be "punished" for having abortions at a town-hall-style forum with Chris Matthews from MSNBC. He then "joked" that he'd date his daughter, Ivanka, on The View.
And that's just a few of his most recent examples. In 1992, Trump described Katerina Witt, a gold-winning Olympian ice skater whom I adored, like this:
Wonderful looking while on the ice but up close and personal, she could only be described as attractive if you like a woman with a bad complexion who is built like a linebacker.
At the time of that comment, Witt was only in her 20s. He shamed former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for gaining a "massive amount of weight."
I want to be as visible as possible: in the building, in the office, in the conference room. I want to be everywhere. Unavoidable. I want to be just one reminder of everything women bring to the table.
Trump has made it public business to treat women as objects and to remind the American public at every turn that it doesn't matter what we say or do, it's what we look like that matters. To Trump, we exist to be looked at, and if we can't be looked at, it's OK to say nasty things about us. Almost his entire cabinet is composed of men. So this much is clear: Trump doesn't really care what women do. I often highly doubt he's noticed this strike, either for lack of wherewithal or because no one wants to be the one to hand him that briefing. In fact, his reaction to the Women's March was that of condescension, wondering "why didn't these people vote"... as if these people (the women) first, did not vote, and second, were seemingly unaware that this actually was the reason for the marches.
Trump's public lack of reaction to the march and attempt to disregard women's attempt at public visibility might prove to be a problem again on Wednesday, when Trump might fail to literally see the movement for what it is, instead mocking women for what they're doing: not showing up to work.
And to be honest, it's this fact that I'm dreading most. Instead of women showing how much our corporate culture needs us and reminding everyone just how much we deserve these rights, what if Trump's logic proves a different point? What if he seizes the Women's Strike as an opportunity to show instead that women aren't really aren't needed and the men can do our jobs instead?
I understand my privilege in even having the option not to strike, but I don't think I'm alone in my fear that walking out of work tomorrow (or not showing up at all), will help our president force forward his warped beliefs of what women can do, what we're capable of, and most importantly, the value we bring to the workforce.
I worry that by walking out of an office might help Trump prove that we aren't really needed.
In a piece for The Guardian, the Women's Strike organizers wrote that the purpose of the Women's Strike is to mobilize women, including trans women, and all who support them in an international day of struggle – a day of striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.
I cannot support those endeavors more. They're the foundation of my feminism and so many of my personal beliefs. But I won't be striking because I worry that by walking out of an office might help Trump prove that we aren't really needed. Instead, I want to be as visible as possible: in the building, in the office, in the conference room. I want to be everywhere. Unavoidable. I want to be just one reminder of everything women bring to the table. I want to make it impossible to overlook the importance of our contributions. I want Trump, and so many others like him, to understand what they're missing. I'd be remiss to see over 100 years of the progress this country has made in favor of women start to go down the drain because Trump's power play is centered around the fact women are merely objects and worthless. And I'd be devastated to see that fight for equality for women of color, LBGT and non-binary individuals be squashed.
I have no political motives in play on Wednesday, other than getting a few cupcakes from a local women-owned cupcake shop donating 25 percent of all their cupcake sales directly to NARAL Pro-Choice. Then I'll visit my OB-GYN, because I just happened to schedule an appointment six months ago for Wednesday. (I know — how fitting.) I won't give Donald Trump or any of his followers the time of day tomorrow. And I'll be standing with the women fighting for change.