Are protests really the answer?
Today in France, protesting women left the workplace twenty minutes early to bring awareness to gender wage gaps. In Rome and other places, protesters blocked traffic and shut down public transportation. In the United States, women called for a “day without women,” resulting in closed schools and empty jobs. All of this was in the name of “equality and empowerment.”
But do protests really bring that about?
Today I was in Madison for work. Around lunch, a small group of women began marching around the capital, waving signs and declaring their desire for change. I am sure they had a variety of motives for being out there, many positive and genuine. However, while they were protesting and waving signs with words like “This pussy fights back,” my co-workers (mostly females!) and I were working hard to bring about actual change.
This really hit home for me during a meeting we had with political and social thought leaders this afternoon. Outside, we could still hear the women chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the patriarchy has got to go!” Inside, my group gathered to talk about the heavy tax burden and over-regulation that make life harder for men and women. The meeting was definitely gender-skewed; there were about 5 women and 20 men present. Was this representative of the patriarchy keeping us down? Hardly! We had an equal voice at the table.
What would have happened if we decided to take a day off of work and protest the fact that there were fewer females than males represented? The meeting definitely still would have happened, but without our voices.
Protests play a role in democracy, but they won’t solve the world’s problems. If you want to make a difference, you have to work for it. Change takes drudgery; it takes showing up day after day, even when you are in the minority. The only thing a #daywithoutwomen accomplishes is another day when women’s voices – and true solutions for equality and empowerment – are absent from the table.
A few of my fabulous, female co-workers. These ladies inspire me to keep fighting.