An open letter to my supervisor at work (I know who they are, and by the end of this post, you, in a way, will know her as well):
First off, thank you for the annual bonus. I know everyone in our company receives one every year, and I know the money will give my bank account a boost. But this letter isn’t about that. I should advise you that though I will be at work tomorrow (March 8), my mind won’t be. Why, you ask?
That’s right, I’m sure you’ve heard about A Day Without a Woman by now. I’m sure, too, you’ve heard about that big march that happened back in January, not only here in Madison but in Washington and around the world.
Lest you start thinking that all that marching two months ago was only about getting some exercise, or that tomorrow is just a quick excuse for seeking a day off, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When you’re not doing the supervising thing, I hope you’ve heard of what women around the world have had to deal with: Inequities. Discrimination. Lower wages. Job insecurity. Sexual harassment. Violence. Abuse. Injustice. And the fear of being vulnerable to all of those. And all because they are women. Add in the factors that women may be black, native, or anything other than white; that they may be poor, or an immigrant, or disabled; that they may (or may not) have children; that they may worship in any non-Christian way; that they dare to stand up for their reproductive rights; or even if they are part of the LGBTQ community (I’ll bring up more on that last factor later), and you can see that women are in a difficult position when compared to any well-to-do man, or any man for that matter.
Needless to say, it shouldn’t be that way, anywhere on this planet. That’s why, on the day traditionally set aside as International Women’s Day, multitudes of women around the globe will mark the day by doing something… er, uh, I should say not do something: They are on strike. For one day. To emphasize the importance of and value that women of all backgrounds bring to the socio-economic system here and around the world. It’s not that they don’t love the job they have now; it’s just that they don’t deserve to be behind the 8-ball because they are female.
Virtually everyone taking part in or commemorating A Day Without a Woman will do so with a certain woman in their lives in mind. I am no exception to that. I will “march” for the women in my life, including my strong-willed mother; my sisters, who have great talent and great families; and my four wonderful nieces, who are more talented than I could ever have imagined. I worry that they will face their own forms of discrimination and disrespect because of their gender (especially my nieces when they reach adulthood). For them, I will march in spirit in the hope that they will be respected for the people they are and the skills they possess more than the gender they just happen to be.
Boss, you know and I know that our employer is a great place to work. You probably recall that e-mail our CEO (“The Big, Big Boss!”) sent last month reminding everyone that our company is committed to diversity and inclusion, placing great value and appreciation to people from many different backgrounds, including gender. That value is so important to our company that it’s included in our guidelines of professional conduct, which you and I and everyone else we work with must adhere to.
Despite all that, there is still that unsettling realization in this world that those who identify as women are still not equal to men when it comes to support, appreciation, respect, security, human rights, workers’ rights… you know, all those things I mentioned a few paragraphs ago and probably a few that I didn’t. And, yes, it’s because they are women. That’s why there’s a need for A Day Without a Woman. If every woman were to refrain from work tomorrow, that would be a ginormous economic earthquake. Yes, the contributions women provide on an everyday basis are immeasurable. But, hey, if going on strike for one day really highlights the fact that women must not face any sort of discrimination, disproportions, fear, or anything like that, then it’s a day well spent.
At this point, Boss, you’re probably wondering why I’m not taking part in A Day Without a Woman. Well, in a way, I will be. Let me explain: First off, yeah, I know you would likely have given me the day off had I sent this to you earlier. “Sure, go ahead,” you would’ve probably said; “do what you feel is important.” Well, I blame part of that on my current volunteer schedule; as you know, Boss, I’ll be spending a couple of hours or so each of the next few weeks helping mold the minds of our country’s and planet’s future. One of the things I plan to remind them is to respect everyone regardless of their gender. So, in a way, I’m spreading one of the main reasons for A Day Without a Woman on a day that’s not A Day Without a Woman; I mean, just because it falls on one day doesn’t mean its importance shouldn’t be spread out the other 364 days.
But while I’ll still be at work tomorrow instead of spending the day at a rally, I’m not letting you or anyone else forget about the importance of A Day Without a Woman. For one, as recommended at this link, I’ll be wearing red in solidarity (my bright red dress shirt is in the closet and ready to go). I will also refrain from any kind of shopping… although I will make an exception to any women-owned or women-oriented business. Like, say, for example, that café on the first floor at work; the two ladies who own and operate it can sure make a delicious lunch (not to mention they are supportive of tomorrow’s action as well). And I will try my darndest to help promote the day to others in any way I can; you can say this note to you counts toward that.
As I write this, Boss, I’m not sure if our company will make any sort of recognition towards A Day Without a Woman the same way our “Big, Big Boss” sent that diversity e-mail last month. I do hope they do, for a company as progressive and supportive as ours shouldn’t ignore it. I hope they do practice what they preach, and that includes taking serious consideration for the women who put in many hours putting in faithful service to support our company. No, I shouldn’t be privy to how much they make (being a lowly “front line grunt,” that’s technically none of my business), but I hope they don’t discriminate in terms of wages, respect, benefits, job advancement, etc. on the basis of gender… although something tells me they do not discriminate.
And, Boss, here’s hoping that this note finds you already commemorating A Day Without a Woman in your own way. For all I know, you may be taking the day off yourself. I mean, you are of the female identification, and I’ve always imagined you to be the progressive type. But even if you’re not taking the day off, I hope you never forget how important you are to our company, and to the working world in general. (Oh, and if your husband is taking a day off from his own place of employment, here’s hoping it’s to help care for your children. It’s one of the suggested ways that men can contribute to the day.)
Oh, I promised I’d circle back to that “LGBTQ factor” I mentioned above, and that also means circling back to that first sentence about my mind not being fully at work. Tomorrow is not only a day to promote “gender justice” for not only women but also anyone who identify as trans or gender nonconforming. Those groups have faced great levels of discrimination and social oppression, not to mention intentional political targeting (I mean, have you seen those anti-trans “bathroom bills” of late?). The plight of the broad trans community is personal for me because… well, I identify as part of that group. I know, you see me come to work every day as a dorky-looking male. But, and I’ve never told anyone at work this… I do present myself as a female on occasion. “Crossdresser” is the term that applies to be, but it’s also a subcategory under the broad trans community. (Yeah, part of me wants to wear that red dress in my closet instead of that red male-mode dress shirt.) So while you show your respect for the women of the world, save some for the trans women of the world as well. Oh, and if you need a fashion idea or two, I know of a female-operated dress shop where every item on every rack may have your name on it.
See you at work tomorrow, and may the world around us become one where no female of any background must be subject to any form of fear or discrimination.