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Nobody Asked Me, But…

Posted by Tim under Personal

I know this post is a little late by modern time standards. I want to talk, again, about A Day Without A Woman.  It was two days ago.  That’s an eternity in social media.  If you are already over it and have moved on, just click on some other site that has more immediacy to it.

Still here? OK.

First off, let me say that I believe strongly in equal rights for all regardless of sex, ethnicity, religion, race, gender, etc.  I do have a few limits to that belief, so perhaps it isn’t totally true. But that’s another discussion. I think International Women’s Day is a great time for us all to realize the importance of women in our society, and to reflect on what equality truly should look like in it.  I’m happy to support March as Women’s Appreciation Month. (Why do I always feel I have to start with a disclaimer? No idea).

I’ve been married twice. I’ve been divorced twice. In my marriages, for some reason, I wound up taking many of those traditionally female roles. When my daughters were young, I ironed their clothes, got them dressed, and fed them breakfast as part of getting them ready for school. In my last marriage, my wife made twice as much (more like three times as much at times) money as I did, worked longer hours, had more responsibilities that kept her away from the home, and still had time to be a great wife, mother, budgeter, and checkbook balancer.

I say all of that to say, yes, I am a male chauvinist about some things, but I fall far shy of being a pig. I’m also empathetic towards the plight of women in the world and attempt to support their equality in small ways that I can do on a daily basis. And I’m a bit of a curmudgeon.

I have been thinking about A Day Without A Woman, and decided to blog about it not from the perspective of a man (although I’m sure it’s in there somewhere). I want to talk about it from the perspective of a school administrator doing a teacher observation.

With that in mind, let’s start with the reinforcement areas. In teacher-speak, that means the things that appeared to go well.

  • Getting the word out – It appears that nearly everyone knew that March 8 was A Day Without A Woman Day. Some within my own circle of influence were not aware that this was part of a larger experience called the International Women’s Day (and that included women). But, it got pretty good news coverage, and that coverage was mostly positive.
  • Being inclusive – One of the complaints about the International Women’s Day in general is that it is mostly the work of women who identify themselves as Liberal or on the Left. That is not always the case, but it is the perception. For this event, there seemed to be a push for all women, regardless of political views, to participate. Kudos.

Then come those pesky areas of refinement. Again, this is teacher-speak for the areas that could have gone better, or flat-out failed.

  • From my perspective, there was no adequate alternative plan. Obviously, not every woman can take the day off and leave their workforce hanging. Small businesses depend on revenues every single day just to survive. Emergency services still have to operate. Teachers are still expected to teach.
    • One alternative was to shop at women-owned businesses, or businesses run by women. Great idea.  Who are they? I would have shopped there as a man just to support them. I would shop there more often. But I have no idea who they are in my area.
    • Another alternative was to wear red.  Really? A strong statement of equality comes from a fashion accessory? How many people even knew that red scarf or blouse or pair of shoes meant “I wish I could have taken off work, but I’m still standing with others”?
    • I wish more emphasis had been placed on getting women from all walks of life to email or call their legislators.  I know some did this, but it wasn’t evident to me as an observer that it was the larger push.
  • One of the things we look for with assessments in the classroom are the end results.  You gave a test.  Great.  What happened? With the Women’s March after the Inauguration, the results were immediate. They were visceral. Women all over the world, not just in DC, marched in solidarity. Seeing nearly half a million women in DC was a powerful visual on the news. Seeing that repeated in cities all across the country and in other nations was also fantastic.  A Day Without A Woman was very hard to gauge for success. Here are the questions I would ask as an evaluator in the classroom:
    • How many women stayed home?  There is nothing in your data that tells me how widespread this action was.
    • What differences did you see between blue cities and red rural areas?
    • Did you get involvement from women who would not ordinarily support this cause? In other words, to use Seth Godin’s phrase, how has your idea spread?
    • In women-owned or women-run businesses, did they see a significant increase in sales that day? To my mind, and I have said this before, it appeared to be more of a “no one buy gas on  Tuesday” kind of protest. One day isn’t even going to register as a blip on the revenue screen. Do you have evidence that this worked better than everyone jumping up and down all at once in the Western hemisphere in order to get the earth off its orbit?
    • After what appeared to be such a rousing success with the march, this appeared to be an action taken because women were tired of doing real protests. More like “calling it in” than actually promoting change. Show me evidence that would tell me I am way off base.

The other thing that happens in a post-conference (usually at the beginning for me) is a simple question set: How do you think it went? What worked? What would you change if you did this again in the future?

I could go on, but this post is far too long already. Feel free to comment either agreement or something that tells me I’m just an old fuddy duddy man who doesn’t understand a thing about women or women’s rights.  Just keep them calm and persuasive.  I would love for this action to have shown more impact than it did.  Truly I would have. I know we can’t knock it out of the park every time we plan an activity.

Nobody asked me, but I decided to share my opinion anyway. If you made it this far, thank you.


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