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The Milton Measure

[Editorial] Women’s Strike: Feel-good but Ineffective

by on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

This past Wednesday, March 8th, more than half the female student population at Milton participated in The Women’s Strike. The event coincided with International Women’s Day and acted as an extension of the Women’s March. The strike aimed to call attention to and celebrate the effect that women and gender-oppressed people have within the Milton community and beyond. While we as a board most definitely support those who participated in the strike, we also sympathize with the students who felt shamed for not joining the strike. What we do not sympathize with, however, are the students who disagreed with the strike’s intentions: to show support for women and gender oppressed parties and highlight their necessary roles in society. Whether or not the strike was effective, though, is up for debate.

The purpose of The Women’s Strike was to simulate a world in which women did not exist to make people aware of the importance of women in their communities. However, the format of the strike at Milton only met this mission partly. First, many females chose not to participate, so very few classes were entirely female-less. Furthermore, while it was important to see how class dynamics changed without female students’ voices, a more powerful statement could have been made if the women teachers striked as well. With many teachers striking, the school would have ground to a halt, and the goal of the strike would have been fully achieved. The message would have been very clear that women are essential to the function of Milton Academy. Another group that could have gone on strike was the female Flik employees. Without them, our breakfast, lunch, and dinner services would have been extremely disrupted. It is important to remember that only those with the privilege to take a day off from work could afford participating in the strike’s events. That Flik employees were not included in the planning of the event made it seem more like a formality to make female community members feel good rather than a demonstration to make a significant point. Additionally, many students who chose to attend class reported that it felt no different than any past classes, especially since almost all classes still included a few girls. In short, since no function of Milton Academy was significantly affected, the strike likely had little impact on those who did attend class.

Unfortunately, not all female students felt that they were able to miss class to join the strike as it lasted the entire day and conflicted with all their classes. While over half of female students did participate, there were those who had tests, group projects, or other commitments that would have been difficult to miss and reschedule, especially as the strike took place immediately preceding spring break. As a result, some female students felt guilty for not being able to directly participate in the day’s events. The organizers of the event did their best to make up for this slight flaw, asking students, female and male alike, to wear red in solidarity with the Women’s Strike and women in general. However, many who chose not to strike reported being shamed profusely by other students for this choice. We as a board believe that, just as those who chose not to strike should have accepted the choice of those who did participate, strikers should not have criticized those who chose not to. Participating in a one day strike does not make someone an activist, and not participating in the strike does not make someone a non-feminist or an anti-feminist.

Many male students at Milton also felt left out of the day’s proceedings and felt that their not being able to strike ostracized them from a movement they believed in. However, as pointed out in the mission statement of the strike, “Men [were] unable to strike with us since the day [was] meant for people to see what a day would be like if women and gender oppressed people weren’t a part of this community.” The statement went on to include two ways in which men could support women: by wearing red and/or joining the sit-in on Tuesday.

There is no doubt that Wednesday’s strike sent a positive message to our community, but not necessarily in the strongest terms. In a school year replete with activism, The Women’s Strike was, in the end, another example of Milton’s support for equality. However, as mentioned, one cannot “check off” their activism duty after one strike– we must continue to call representatives and partake in rallies, protests, and marches, especially ones that are less popular and thus less publicized. It’s easy to participate in a school-organized strike or a popular march like the Women’s March, but we must continue to take a stand for what is right, no matter if our friends are or not. A potential next step for Milton students might involve focusing all this positive energy on communities not as fortunate, safe, and caring as ours.

Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=9153

Posted by on Mar 9 2017. Filed under Editorial, More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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