I’m working today, not because I don’t respect the mission on the activists who have organized the strike. I am curious to see if kids get to school on time and have anyone there to teach them. If this were a fantasy movie, the schools would be chaos and the men left behind to manage would look like dopes as children ran around, harmlessly screaming and playing, writing funny statements on the chalkboards, and standing on the desks to perform. It would be entertaining because we would leave the theater to re-enter a world more under control, even if imperfect.
Will there be a shortage of nurses today? Will there be enough men to keep the offices running smoothly, bring our drinks, clean our homes, coach our kids’ teams, and do all that women do? I get the point. Yet I’m also a bit scared of what could go wrong. I also have a different life than what is assumed by this movement. I work for myself, am unmarried, and have no children. I could take off from work, and there’s a good chance that no one would notice. I am consciously choosing to work today as my own statement on the status of women–and in alignment with what I believe the organizers imagine.
Women, we can choose our paths. No, it is not easy. I still deal with men and women who disrespect or doubt me. I don’t work with them when I can choose not to. I’m at an age where I don’t get the cat calls and whistles that I did before, but these days, I also choose not to dress in ways that make me stand out too much. I have too much I want to accomplish to be annoyed and distracted by all of that. Finishing my 10- to 12-hour work day so I can call a loved one, go to the gym, spend some time with my partner, and otherwise take care of myself are more important to me. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve set my life up to work in alignment with my personal Vision, Mission, and Core Values. I am possibly living the way the women protesting want to live, and I will hold down the fort while they seek what they need to create their versions of it.
I support the women protesting and striking today, and just as I asked them after the Women’s March, I request that the activism not end with this 2017 International Women’s Day. I am #boldforchange, and I will continue to be bold, within my definition. I will build my skills as a Conflict Resolution Professional. I will attend the 61st Session of the Conference on the Status of Women next week at the United Nations. I will continue to beat the odds with every year I add to my successful Woman-Owned Business. I will vote. I will not define myself by my perceived value to men, as a mother, in a traditional role, or by any metric other than my own. I will wear red today in solidarity. I will continue to patronize and support women-owned businesses, and I will expand my services to empower women, men, and those of any gender identity to live big and free. Today is symbolic of the way I want to live everyday.
I don’t want to get into discussions of how “men” need to change. There are many of them who treat us as equals, even as they acknowledge our unique qualities. I am dating one, and I’ve helped raise another. I work with many, in industries from building trades and funeral services, to law, the arts, sports, and wellness. I will be doing what I do every day with them, being myself and their equal. I will be normalizing this experience, as I often have unknowingly, in part because I didn’t see myself as different. This does not mean the inequalities haven’t existed or that you shouldn’t be marching, striking, or leading others toward the liberty and justice for all we were promised. Yet it does serve as a reminder to keep looking within and strengthening your self-image, despite any challenges to it. You are beautiful and deserving, and we need your brightest light in this world.
We still have a lot of work to do with women and ethnic, racial, or religious minorities–in the United States and worldwide, and I love that you are letting your voice be heard by backing it up with action. Do what is right for you. That is where true freedom lies. xo