(Beyond) A Day Without Women

Today is International Woman's Day, and I'm striking for the Day Without Women. I was unsure whether or not I was going to strike (is it a privilege? Don't I owe it to my students? Won't I get penalized?), but was encouraged to by my Feminist Theory professor, an incredible and inspiring woman who literally wrote the book on intersectional feminism. You can listen to her NPR interview here. She cracked everyone up the other day in class when we were talking about "post-feminism." There are some think-pieces out there about moving "beyond' intersectional feminism and "beyond" online activism. She was like, "We've got so much work to do! Can we please figure out intersectionality first before we move beyond it?"

There are so many good essays to be written about the importance of this day and how we can build from it-- how to better fight for trans women, women of color, women in prison-- but fuck, guys (I mean folk? I mean y'all?), my sphere of influence and understanding right now is so, so small, just limited to this tiny apartment and my relationships and my dog. When I think about a Day Without Women and all it brings up-- highlighting all the paid and unpaid labor that women do-- what I think about is actually my partner and how much of the "women's work" he does in our relationship.

Women's work is often emotional labor; in romantic relationships, this would be something like remembering birthdays and anniversaries, being emotionally open and encouraging your partner to do the same, compromising. In a romantic relationship, women's work is often domestic as well: doing the dishes, cooking, taking care of kids.

I have the strange karma of having a partner who does all of those things (minus the kids part, although he is great with our dog). He's the one who remembers our anniversary. He's the one who tells me when he is scared about something, who keeps track of the status of our relationship and initiates conversations about that, who shares his feelings the easiest. And he's the one who does the dishes. He cleans. And damnit, cooking was my thing, but he learned to do that too, just to throw me off my game I'm sure.

All of this doesn't just make him a good man. It makes him a good person. But because of that sneaky overlap between relative and absolute, the way that he is a good person is by being a good man. Neither of us can escape being a man and a woman in relationship. When I say I wish there were more men like him, what I really mean is I wish their were more people like him. And yet it's impossible to separate the two; we only stand up where we fall down. Relative and absolute go together like a box and its lid.

Today, I'm grateful for the dishes he does. For the anniversaries he remembers.


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