Organizers of the Women’s March are calling for a “general strike” on March 8, which they have dubbed “A Day Without A Woman”. The idea is that if enough women stay home from work that day, the rest of society will see how important women are to our economy — indeed our daily lives. In reality, of course, a lot of women can’t stay home that day; they’d be fired if they did and household budgets would collapse. Also, in real life, enough women will stay on the job that the effect won’t be felt by a terrible lot of people.
But it made me wonder… What if there was actually a day — a full 24 hours — in which no women existed? If scientists could somehow get women to blink out of existence, only to return a day later. Only males and non-adult females would exist for 24 hours.
Some things likely wouldn’t be affected all that much. All-male crews on fishing boats out at sea wouldn’t even notice, perhaps. But almost everyone else would notice, from remote tribal villages to the International Space Station — where one of the six people currently in space is a woman (Peggy Whitson, the oldest woman to have ever been in space, at age 56).
I thought of my own life. If it was a day my wife normally works, then I wouldn’t notice her absence most of the day — she’s usually gone by the time I wake up, and I handle the children in the mornings and afternoons. By supper, I would notice my wife missing, but I’m perfectly capable of getting supper for the children, bathing them, and putting them to bed. We’d probably be okay. Unless we needed to leave the house for any reason.
In my city, about half the gas station clerks are women, as are at least 80% of supermarket cashiers and 90% of customer-facing restaurant staff. We might have a difficult time buying food or gas, if we needed any. I couldn’t take the children to the local libraries, because they’re entirely staffed by women (with one male exception that I know of). Other businesses and institutions would encounter similar problems — large percentages of the staff are women — with exceptions at hardware stores, auto-oriented businesses, and a few other typically “male” businesses. My bank would be empty; it’s entirely staffed by women. A good number of real estate agents in Killeen are women.
Local government offices would be in a similar boat. Every time I’ve been in the local DMV, staff is 100% female, and the same is nearly true at the county courthouse. The city’s water office — almost entirely staffed by women. Police Department? The interim chief is currently a woman, as are several officers and almost all the dispatchers and receptionists.
If it happened to be a school day, our city would simply be in chaos. Most of the teachers, especially at lower grade levels, are women. My daughter’s teacher is a woman, as have been all the substitutes she’s had so far. The principle and most of the office staff are women as well. Most of the crossing guards are women. Many of the bus drivers are women. Not only would many children not be able to get to school, the ones who showed up would have no one to teach them. But most children couldn’t stay home either, because — you guessed it — no women. Most stay-at-home parents are women (I’m a rare exception). Most daycare providers are women. An awful lot of men would have to stay home from their jobs to look after their children.
Nearby Fort Hood would have its own issues. Despite the Army still being predominately male, about one in seven active duty soldiers is now a woman. And quite a bit of the civilian support staff on post is comprised of women, including my wife’s office, where even the boss is a woman.
My doctor is a woman, as is the pediatrician my children have always seen. All the nurses, receptionists, and other staff there are women too. My dentist and all her assistants and support staff are women.
In other words, the entire economy of our county would come crashing to a halt.
I imagine that similar effects would be felt around the nation, even in businesses where women are underrepresented.
Thirty-seven percent of news bylines are by women. At tech companies like Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn, women account for about half of the non-tech jobs, and about one-third of the total workforce. Though women are vastly underrepresented in the film industry, about one in six employees of big-budget films are women, as are one in four lead acting roles. One of every four STEM jobs is taken by a woman.
In the U.S. workforce overall, 49.9% of the employees are women.
A quarter of U.S. children live in households with only a mother (no father). Imagine if those 10 million women disappeared for 24 hours too. Most of those mothers work. In two-parent households, most women work. The children, when not at school, are either supervised by unpaid family members or friends (almost exclusively women) or by paid daycare workers (almost exclusively women).
A world without women, even for a single day, would be survivable — unless you need a police dispatcher or emergency room nurse — but probably not pleasant.
I know a few regressives who sincerely believe that women shouldn’t work outside the home, but I think most of us recognize the reality of life — that most women do work, and that even “homemaker” is in reality an actual job, despite being “paid” in an unorthodox manner.
This mental exercise is just that; it doesn’t affect our lives much to think about it. But I lay it out here for those who laugh at the idea of the proposed “A Day Without A Woman” strike. Perhaps feminists wouldn’t need to suggest such a day if the rest of society would recognize that women should truly have the same rights and opportunities as men, including the right to not be pregnant against her will.