During the first full week of Women’s History Month, Meghan Daum had a choice. Instead of writing a piece about the significance of March 8, International Women’s Day, she chose to deride an international solidarity action.
Whether it was a quick deadline to churn something out or just a lack of basic research, Meghan Daum’s op-ed ‘A Day Without a Woman’ is a strike for privileged protesters gets the day of action and intent completely wrong. However, in her arrogance, she writes “this is an unfortunate but not altogether surprising consequence of an event without a clear purpose—or an understanding of feminist history.” Hubris is the downfall of many. This has nothing to do with not having “historical knowledge.”
Similar to Sady Doyle before her, Daum lacks an understanding of radical leftist thought, labor organizing, and the intersectional struggle of women in this country and abroad. By solely linking this action to the recent protests as well as Women’s March Organizers, Daum completely ignores the greater context within which the strike is being organized. A global effort, with women in 48 countries participating, this is about putting the world on notice and standing in solidarity with our sisters.
— INTwomensstrike (@womensstrike) March 3, 2017
Even the Women’s March website, which she quickly gleaned for information, has a statement indicating support for the international effort including International Women’s Strike USA. In early February, organizers of the US contingent of the International Women’s Strike wrote a brilliant piece in Viewpoint Magazine.
The kind of feminism we seek is already emerging internationally, in struggles across the globe: from the women’s strike in Poland against the abortion ban to the women’s strikes and marches in Latin America against male violence; from the massive women’s demonstration of the last November in Italy to the protests and the women’s strike in defense of reproductive rights in South Korea and Ireland. What is striking about these mobilizations is that several of them combined struggles against male violence with opposition to the casualization of labor and wage inequality, while also opposing homophobia, transphobia and xenophobic immigration policies. Together, they herald a new international feminist movement with an expanded agenda–at once anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-heterosexist, and anti-neoliberal. – Beyond Lean-In: For a Feminism of the 99% and a Militant International Strike on March 8
Had Daum better researched, she would have found a valid critique of how the Women’s March organizers have tried to make radical action more palatable to mainstream American women. In “Why Women Should Strike,” Keeanga-YamahttaTaylor writes that unlike the J21 March, the focus of March 8 actions is to “not just a call to protest the Neanderthal in the White House, but to put radical politics at the center of the resistance.” She continues to explain “We see March 8 as a reclamation project in that sense — as an effort to reconnect with the militant and radical politics of socialist feminism and Black feminism of the 1960s and 1970s, which located the oppression of women in capitalism and the free market.” Daum’s comments reek of privilege and white woman entitlement to “history” similar to those who continue to hold up suffragists without acknowledging the classist and racist underpinnings.
— Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) March 6, 2017
As we have seen with the labor movement, notably Fight for 15 actions which have a large cadre of Black and Latino women leading the charge, workers are willing to take a stand to demand better for their peers and themselves. Even if the women striking on March 8 were “privileged” isn’t it a good thing that people are willing to leverage their voice, time, and bodies to help others? While there is a genuine concern with voyeurism in activism, that does not seem to be the case with those organizing and mobilizing ahead of these major actions. Global feminists have been striking and will continue to do so whether or not the Daums of the world see the light.
SOLIDARITY IS OUR WEAPON! https://t.co/sXZIhgb191
— INTwomensstrike (@womensstrike) February 27, 2017
Bottom line, Daum’s piece is ugly and condescending but not unsurprising. In the age of “unity” and “resist” we are constantly steered towards only “resisting” 45 because he offends middle-class white sensibilities. To actively resist systemic oppression and privilege threatens the system that allows people like Daum to exist without concern or care for anything other than breaking some glass ceiling. Meanwhile, many of our sisters cannot even get to the ground floor. With her piece, Daum is saying that she does not care for nor does she support workers who choose to advocate and stand up for themselves. She does not stand with those who represent different perspectives because she is not centered in their work and messaging.
Be clear when Daum belittles the overall efforts and purpose in her piece, she is attacking the work of women who are organizers, activists, and others who work in the trenches on the issues they advocate. All she had to do was pay attention and “lean in” a little, and she would have found a treasure trove of information.