It wasn't one single thing that drove hundreds of thousands of women — and men — to the massive marches on Jan. 21 in cities from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. It was about a million different things. Though the overall message was overtly anti-President Trump, the individual causes were many: hands off our bodies, hate is bad, climate change is real, stop the Dakota Access pipeline, trans lives matter and so on.
Now the women's march organizers are hoping to channel that same energy into a series of work strikes, rallies and shopping boycotts across the country on Wednesday to celebrate International Women's Day. They are calling it A Day Without a Woman. The organizers are asking women to take a day off from work to participate in rallies around the country if they can. Those who can't are asked to wear red in solidarity and not shop that day.
Still, there are real reasons for women to be angry, and hopefully the inchoate angst that propelled the January marches will focus on more specific, and immediate, threats to women. For starters, the House GOP's new and terrible plan to replace the Affordable Care Act threatens access to reproductive and family planning services and could make maternity coverage unaffordable. Is that what Trump meant when he said in his address to Congress last month that he would invest in women's health?
The president also supported paid family leave. That's huge, as he might say. But he needs to be held to that pledge. Unlike those in the rest of the developed world, U.S. women in the workforce do not have a guarantee of paid family leave. And then there are the perennial workplace frustrations: that damnably durable glass ceiling and, despite a number of efforts on the state and federal level, female workers still get paid less for doing the same work as those with one fewer X chromosome. One solution to that problem would be to get more women in corporate America's boardrooms and executive suites.
As for the handwringing over whether A Day Without A Woman is inherently elitist because poor women can't afford to not work, well, so what if it skews middle-class? Good for women of means standing up for those less fortunate. Besides, there are many ways to protest that don't require carrying a sign in a rally — such as voting for candidates who won't incite women to take to the streets.