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White women in pussy hats.

White Women: Here’s How to Really Step Up on “A Day Without A Woman”

White women: if your fight is against economic disparity, open your wallet and start with the most economically oppressed. Don’t come at me with “I don’t have the money.”

March 8 is International Women’s Day, but this year it’s also poised to become a massive protest: A Day Without A Woman. Women across the country will avoid doing any work — paid or unpaid — to show just how much labor they provide. They will also be asked to boycott cis-male and non-minority-owned businesses, and to wear the color red to show support for the fight against mistreatment of women and gender-oppressed people everywhere.

But just how many folks can afford to drop out for a day?

“On International Women’s Day, March 8, women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity,” the Women’s March website explains.

The idea behind the protest is to, first and foremost, show solidarity among oppressed genders (which could have begun with not calling the protest “A Day Without A Woman”), and second, to show what the world would look like without the labor of women and genders other than cis men.

The protest overlooks one major fact: the most oppressed folks can’t easily participate. Non-cis-male folks, particularly those of color, often earn less money, or their employment situations are more tenuous; taking a day to protest means a loss of income, or potentially the loss of their job. This means there’s no way the protest will illustrate what the world would look like without them.

According to data from the American Association of University Women, while the wage gap is still very large between women and men, the wage gap between white people of non-Latinx heritage and BIPOC people is significant. White women make a staggering average of $12,077 more than Latinas and $10,216 more than American Indian and Native Alaskan women. White women earn an average of $8,935 more than Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women, and $7,600 more than African American women.

Wage Gap Chart AAUW

The only group that financially dominates white women in terms of average income is Asian women, which can be attributed to their increased presence in STEM industries.

“Earnings ratios for all groups of women look much worse when compared with the earnings of white men (the largest group in the workforce). Hispanic and Latina women are paid only 54 percent of what white men are paid. African American women are paid only 75 percent of what white men are paid. Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women were paid 60 percent of white men’s earnings, and American Indian and Alaska Native women were paid only 58 percent of white men’s earnings. Once again we see that Hispanic/Latina women have the lowest earnings and also the largest pay gap with white men,” according to the AAUW.

God bless America, y’all.

So how do we fix it? It’s time to take off the pussy hats and put on our thinking caps. On the absolute most basic individual level, yes, of course you should be spending money at women- and BIPOC-owned businesses and volunteering time with Native American, Latinx, and African American-dominant schools.

Beyond that? Reparations.

Related: Fuck You, Pay Me: Reparations for Fat Black Bitches and Everything We Provide

White women: if your fight is against economic disparity, open your wallet and start with the most economically oppressed. Don’t come at me with “I don’t have the money.” If you are taking an unpaid day off from work for the protest, you have the money. The protest IS important to increase visibility, but make sure that you are supporting those who do not have the means to take the much-needed time off.

Now, if you truly haven’t the financial ability, reach out to folks who do. Use your privilege to appeal to the people have financial access, and advocate for groups who need help. Beyond money, ask what labor you can provide groups and do not tell that what you want to do.

Also, don’t feel hurt if they tell you that they don’t need your labor or presence. Sometimes it’s just important for folks to have safe spaces away from perceived oppressors in order to preserve their cultural identities and traditions. It’s not about you personally.

For International Women’s Day and A Day Without A Woman, put on your red clothing. If you are going to take the day off from work, it is important that you actually support these groups financially. Solidarity is more than doing what makes you feel good. It’s doing what helps people, even if it makes you less comfortable. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Offer to cover the shift of a under-represented BIPOC person who wants to be part of the protest.
  • If you are able-bodied, cook a few more meals at home this week and give them to hard-working groups that might need them.
  • Organize a carpool/protest travel group in order to help ensure safety for everyone involved, but prioritize people with disabilities and BIPOC, both of which have been under-represented and absent in political movements due to accessibility.
  • Rent a few wheelchairs and invite people who cannot stand or march to participate with you. Find able-bodied folks to push the chairs.
  • If you are working that day, bring in some food from a woman- and/or BIPOC-owned restaurant. It’ll support those businesses and boost the morale of those who have to work.
  • Take up a collection at work and give to a group in your community that needs it.
  • Volunteer at a school.
  • Learn a second language so that you can communicate with community members outside of your culture. This is especially useful for working with young students and immigrants.
  • Sponsor a family that needs help.

BIPOC groups don’t need white saviors. They need white (and well-paid Asian) money and labor from folks who will listen.

Featured image by Mr. Wonderful. Creative commons license.


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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