Today is International Women’s Day; a day to support women’s rights and women in the working world. A day of respect towards women. And a day to show just what the world is like without women at work and school.
I didn’t put much thought into the day as our country has already held several other women’s rights movements, campaigns and protests since January. And while I do think all of this is of absolute importance, I just didn’t give today that much more thought than these other events. Great, power to the women. We rock, I know this. I am one. I scrolled through social media seeing tweets and Facebook posts and Snapchat stories of women discussing the day, going to marches and rallies, and just generally promoting the day. I continued scrolling mindlessly, still not really understanding the impact today had.
It wasn’t until I sat down for my afternoon English class that it truly started to resonate with me. Class had just begun and my male professor asked what the ladies were doing in class (the class is majority female). I thought, “Um.. coming to class? Were we not supposed to?” He continued. “It’s International Women’s Day. You’re supposed to be on strike aren’t you? I even wore a red tie to show my support for women.” The women in the room began looking around at each other as if to ask, “Are you going to leave? Can we leave?” One girl did speak up. She asked, “Are we allowed to leave?” To which our professor answered, “Are you really going to ask a male for permission to do something pertaining to women?” We all pondered his question and looked around hesitantly. And then someone spoke… “No.” Others chimed in. “No.” “No.” Others shook their head. He passed around our assignment for the day as we continued to ponder and joked about what the men in class were going to do without us in class to lead discussion. And the women of the class got up and left.
Many of us continued to think after leaving the classroom. Was he going to assign something while we weren’t there? Was he actually okay with us walking out? Would we be in trouble for leaving class? And then the questions started to shift in some of our heads. What would the men of the class do? There are only a handful of them. Would they still have class discussion over our reading for the day?
I’m sure class will continue on. But it will be quieter than the normal day. I’m sure without the women of the class there to give our input, there will also be less feedback about the reading. But they’ll muddle through and figure out the correct answers. But what about in the workplace? Where else in the world is quieter or less productive or halted without the women of the workplace there to do their jobs?
I began to realize our place. Women’s place. And how we make a difference in the day-to-day routine. We matter. We provide balance. And even one day without us causes insecurity and ill feelings. It’s time to realize that men and women BOTH belong in the workplace. And though we are not always equal in strength, intelligence, and other characteristics, we balance each other out. And we both bring important qualities to the table.
Photo by Madeleine McCormick