“A Day Without a Woman”
Updated March 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On March 8, International Women’s Day, women—and men—across the United States marched and rallied, took off from work, wore red in solidarity and acted in other ways for “A Day Without a Woman.” The call for the action came from the organizers of the January 21 Women’s March when millions took the streets across the U.S. and around the world. They said that on this day, “women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people”—and that they drew inspiration from “recent courageous actions like the ‘Bodega strike’ led by Yemeni immigrant store owners in New York City and the Day Without Immigrants across the U.S.” They say the day was meant to show women’s economic and political strength and to speak out on many different social justice issues, like reproductive rights, LGBTQIA rights, immigrant rights and environmental justice. And many of these actions served as a way for women to speak out against the Trump/Pence government.
As was the case with the Women’s March and other recent protests, many people who were part of "A Day Without a Woman" had never protested before or had not been active for many years. The New York Times gave a couple of examples: In Lafayette, Indiana, “a retired nurse and first-time protester” who said she had come out for the day because of “the injustice that women deal with—like jobs, everyday life”; and in Denver, Colorado, a teacher “had driven 90 minutes from Colorado Springs for her first political march, noting proudly that she had a male substitute in her classroom.”
Reports are still coming in about the day—how many people took part in the day in various ways, including not working or shopping, or wearing red clothing to show they were in solidarity with others taking action, and all the places where people took action, in cities as well as suburbs and smaller towns. There were news reports that a number of school districts had to shut down because so many women—and men—teachers and staff were not going in to work for the day. For example, in Maryland, Prince George’s County schools closed after some 1,700 teachers and 30% of its transportation staff requested leave for the day. Public schools also closed in Alexandria, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., along with Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools in North Carolina. In Providence, Rhode Island, the municipal court had made plans to close because the demonstrations would have left the city with not enough staff in the courthouse.
The president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association (the teachers’ union), Theresa Dudley, who herself wore red for the day, told Revolution/revcom.us that the action by hundreds of teachers in the school district to be part of the one-day strike was “not an orchestrated thing at all—it just took a life of its own.” She said that hundreds of teachers from the district had gone to DC on January 21 for the Women’s March and “perhaps some of the spirit of the March played a big role in people’s decisions to stay home on Wednesday... I think it shows that women are really frustrated in this country—that someone could be elected president that doesn’t respect women at all, unless they allow him to grope and allow him to treat them however he wants to treat them, and having no rights, as far as reproductive freedom is concerned.”
Teachers in other school districts around the country took part in the day in various ways. A retired teacher who helped the Chicago Teacher’s Union organize a protest by active teachers for "A Day Without a Woman" told the Los Angeles Times, “We stand in danger of losing so much of what women have fought so hard to gain. I’m talking about abortion rights. I’m talking about the gains that women have made through union labor.” At Palo Alto High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, about 30 women teachers took the day off and held a “women’s brunch,” while other teachers and many students wore red. A journalism teacher at the school told Palo Alto Weekly that “she took the day off to make a statement in protest of the president’s stance on women and women’s rights, particularly his recent offer to maintain federal funding for Planned Parenthood if they stop providing abortions.”
And in many other different types of workplaces, women and some supportive men took the day off or wore red to work as part of the day. The New York Times reported that “the chief executive of the advertising agency 360i, said that hundreds of the company’s 600 New York employees were participating in some way.” Various TV newscasters wore red, and Slate.com reported on what happened at various news outlets, including at Verge and MTV News where employees who did show up “tweeted photos of nearly empty offices, demonstrating the visual power of not showing up.”
Rallies and marches were held in cities around the country. A crowd of some 2,000 rallied in Los Angeles. In New York, over a thousand marched with chants like “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” Fourteen women were arrested in a civil disobedience action outside the Trump International Hotel & Tower. A San Jose Mercury newspaper headline said “‘A Day Without a Woman’ draws thousands to Bay Area rallies while others skip work in solidarity.”
In Santa Cruz, California, protestors—including students from the University of California campus—marched through the streets and blocked traffic. Hundreds marched in Denver, Colorado; Boston; Philadelphia; and other cities—and there were gatherings in smaller cities and towns.
Among the actions in Washington, DC, was a march of hundreds of people to the front gates of the White House, protesting in particular the Trump regime’s attacks on women’s right to abortion—including the global “gag order” that threatens health providers around the world with cut-off of funds if they even discuss abortion. One of the chants was, “Resist Trump, stop the gag.”
From the Revolution Club, Los Angeles:
In Los Angeles, there were two rallies on March 8, International Women’s Day. About 1,000 filled Grand Park (across from City Hall) for “A Day Without A Woman” rally called by the Women’s March. Women and men of different nationalities, backgrounds and ages were there. An older woman mentioned she had not been to a protest since Roe v Wade made abortion legal, but felt compelled to start coming out ever since Trump won the election. A young Latina woman said she had never been into politics until she started seeing the attacks on immigrants and felt she needed to do something. A young Black man, a journalist, had been thinking about the impeachment of Trump and said we have to keep an eye out for the bad stuff they do to get him impeached. He said as a journalist he was thinking about what role to play in preventing this all from being normalized. From the stage organizers, activists and local politicians spoke about the horrific situation facing women in the U.S. and around the world.
Later in the day, there was another rally of hundreds at the downtown Federal Building, organized by the International Women’s Strike. Many of the organizations focused on the situation facing women around the world, including the conditions of poverty and exploitation in Third World countries.
Refuse Fascism was at both rallies and had an impact with a colorful banner that said “No! Pussy-Grabbing No! Patriarchy No! Fascist USA,” along with several banners with the NO! in different languages. The Refuse Fascism team distributed many NO! posters and the Call to Action, and challenged people to confront the reality that the Trump/Pence regime are fascists and they are going for a total fascist re-ordering of society. Many women and men were challenged to become organizers to drive out this fascist regime from power.
The Revolution Club was also there, taking out the Call to Action and distributing the “Break the Chains” compendium by Bob Avakian, which excerpts his writings on the emancipation of women and the communist revolution. They also had a huge banner that read, “Women Are NOT Bitches, Ho’s, Punching Bags, Incubators, Sex Objects or Breeders! Women Are Full Human Beings! revcom.us”
A member of the Revolution Club who is an organizer with Refuse Fascism went to both rallies with red “bloody” pants to symbolize the women who lost their lives when abortion was illegal. She also wore a homemade T-shirt that read “Forced Motherhood=Female Enslavement” and wrote “NO!” on her face with red paint. She reported that throughout the day women would come up to her and express how powerful the outfit was. That response was mainly coming from older white women. When she tried to speak to younger women about what the outfit symbolized, most of them didn’t understand it.
When the first rally ended, this organizer for Refuse Fascism got on the megaphone and began to call on people to stick around and talk. She explained the meaning of her outfit and what that had to do with Trump, “He’s already told us that he’s going to reverse Roe v. Wade. And the reality is, whether abortion is illegal, women will seek it! And we will end up going back to this! Women dying from inducing their own abortions!” She also took on very sharply the dismissive comments she had seen on social media about the "A Day Without A Woman" strike. “I read some disgusting comments about the strike, people saying we are here today to whine about how we are being underpaid! But there is something much deeper than that! The reality and the horror of walking down the street with a vagina! And fearing for your life, the fear of getting sexually assaulted, harassed, or raped! And now with this PIG in power saying it’s okay to grab a woman by the pussy, saying it’s okay to grab a woman and kiss her without her permission!!! This is training men to disrespect and view women as objects!” And she called on people to get organized to DRIVE OUT the Trump regime from power!
People responded to the agitation. A woman from India signed up right away and was challenged to donate $100, She responded to the need for materials and what impact this can have when we translate the “NO!” into Spanish, Farsi, and Arabic, donating $60. She brainstormed about what were some places she could take these materials to, taking a kit of 50 posters, 50 fliers, and 15 stickers. She was very upset about the new Muslim ban and wanted to do something about it.
There was struggle with people throughout the day about how they were viewing the situation and what people were gonna do about it. The Call to Action was used to speak to why we don’t have four years to “wait and see,” that we have to be working very hard right now to organize people, for people to confront that this is fascism. And to drive the fascists out!
An older guy said he had heard the agitation earlier, congratulated the organizer and said to “keep up the good work.” He said he would look forward to our emails to hear more about the work, but she struggled and challenged him to take materials right then and spread them everywhere, because there is no time to waste. He agreed and took a stack of fliers to get out to people where he lives.
Others were signing up and committing to raising funds for Refuse Fascism, and were taking materials. A seven-year-old took up the task of distributing 60 fliers to the crowd, after an organizer for Refuse Fascism explained to him what this was about. His mother, who was wearing a hijab, encouraged him to pass out the fliers and he later came back with almost none left. A Latina woman who was agonizing over the deportations said she appreciated and agreed with the message of driving out the fascist regime, not preparing for four years of horrors. She had never been political before, but the urgency of the situation made her want to do something and she wanted to get organized right away.
We talked to many people who were agonizing over what is happening in the world, about the deportations, about women’s right to control their bodies, about the Muslim ban. And after a short discussion with people, they would take up the materials and sign up and donate.
From a reader:
IWD in Eugene, Oregon:
On the evening of Wednesday, March 8th around 6 pm the Intersectional People's Network of Eugene/Springfield hosted a rally at the Free Speech Plaza (aka Park Blocks) to celebrate an International Women and Women-aligned Day, featuring predominately marginalized sectors of women such as indigenous, Latina, disabled and transwomen. This event was a rally, taking place in pouring rain, for about an hour. There are other events planned for Sunday, March 12. There were 20-40 people, mostly older but some young people, mostly women. And mostly non-white, in a city that is majority white.
About 600 people rallied at Westlake Park in Seattle on International Women’s Day, while 150 people in south Seattle held a night walk to protest all violence against women and remember My-Linh Nguyen, a 45-year-old Vietnamese woman who was killed by an attacker on the street near her home on December 15, 2016. The downtown rally included special guests Pussy Riot and New York Daily News columnist Shaun King. After the rally, Refuse Fascism united with about 40 others who were demanding to march and led people through the streets of downtown and up to Capitol Hill. It became even more clear that the full fury of women had yet to be unleashed when one young woman let out a primal scream as we stepped off, with chants of “No Pussy Grabbing, No Patriarchy, No Fascist USA,” “Abortion on Demand & Without Apology, Without this Basic Right, Women Can’t be Free,” and “Women Aren’t Things, Women Aren’t Toys, Women Aren’t Objects for the Boys!” There was a speak-out in the middle of a busy intersection, stopping traffic. A number of women, men and non gender-conforming people spoke of being raped and escaping violent and abusive relationships and homes—and of their fear and anger at having a sexual predator in the White House. The rally ended with people signing up with Refuse Fascism and a powerful mic-check of the 4 points that Refuse Fascism is calling on millions to resolve to accomplish until Trump and Pence are driven from power.
In high winds by the lake, over 200 people, Black and white, young and older, women and some men gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day. There were many homemade signs exposing the attacks on women from the defunding of Planned Parenthood to outlawing abortion by the Trump/Pence regime and signs that spoke to the fighting spirit of women. A young speaker from Refuse Fascism spoke about the need to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime and ended with a mic check of the pledge: “NO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America, Drive Out the Trump/Pence Regime!” Most of the people there joined in the pledge with feeling and determination. Then people marched through downtown chanting enthusiastically “NO TRUMP NO KKK NO FASCIST USA” as well as some took up “NO Pussy Grabbing, NO Patriarchy, No Fascist USA.” Refuse Fascism was in the house with lots of signs, fliers, stickers and people signing up. Throughout there was a feeling that the horrors against women promoted by the Trump/Pence regime must be fought against and that the rally and march for IWD was part of that fight.
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