There are plenty of lefty think pieces (is that what we’re calling them these days?) about how there are many women who aren’t able to strike today, the #DayWithoutAWoman. There are plenty of righty commentaries about how women who are striking today are just “taking a vacation” on the backs of hard-working conservatives. IMO, which you know I love to share, both of those attitudes miss the mark in much the same way.
Strikes are meant to be sacrifice. So claiming people “able” to strike are privileged dismisses the very real risks and hardships that some of the strike participants are making. Similar to this, viewing a strike as a vacation dismisses the everyday hardships and sacrifices to which the events are attempting to draw attention. Either way, it’s a judgment. And, no thank you; we have enough of that.
On the other hand, events like this provide a fantastic opportunity to recognize the many ways we are all privileged in one way or another. Am I able to strike from my job without worrying about losing wages or the job? Privilege! Am I able to afford bus or train fare to join a protest in NYC? Privilege! Can I wear a symbol of my religion without a constant worry that someone may attempt to remove it? Privilege! And on and on.
What the recognition is meant to stimulate is gratitude, not defensiveness. Empathy, not resentment. A call to serve, amplify, and support with a hand up, not separation, shame, or turning away. And it’s not always easy to admit privilege, especially when someone has fought her own battles with society and hardship and discrimination. But admitting privilege doesn’t take away from your hard work and sacrifice; it simply acknowledges the advantages you have enjoyed because of gender, economy, being able-bodied, race, religion, sexual orientation, education, health, a nurturing childhood, access to reliable health care, geography. Again, on and on. We have all had some privileges, have we not?
Finally, I ask you to consider that what you may have considered GOOD LUCK in your life, career, or interactions with authority figures may actually be privilege. No judgment.