Is Women’s Solidarity Possible?

The International Women’s Strike (IWS), which coincided with International Women’s Day, associates itself with every progressive cause there is, making Betty Friedan’s actual dream for feminism—not that it would be a radical movement for women, but that it would be a liberal equality movement for all people—a reality.

But do we make a mistake when we equate the interests of a feminist movement that has embraced progressive multiculturalism with the interest of “women”?

Conservative women say yes. Many would also argue that what the vast majority of tomorrow’s participants see as a strength is the weakness of the Day Without Women: that it isn’t for all women, and that if you are a conservative woman, feminism isn’t particularly interested in you. Last year’s event drew a range of criticisms in the conservative press. “Many women can’t take the day off to make a political statement,” policy analyst and blogger Hadley Heath wrote in the Washington Examiner (February 27, 2017). “How would I explain to my 7-month-old daughter that I’m not going to change her diapers or make her bottles on March 8? She’s a demanding customer, and the work I do for her is emblematic of the unpaid work that millions of women do every day as homemakers, mothers, and caregivers to their elderly relatives. It’s not optional.”

So, a feminist like myself might reasonably point out, tell your husband to do it. But some mothers don’t perform this work “entirely out of obligation,” Heath continues. “Our work is also our joy.” She also points out that the directive to stop shopping or to deliberately discriminate in your shopping habits is, to conservative thinkers, an anti-equality measure: “Free-market capitalism is one of the most equalizing forces in the world,” while all businesses—not just women and minority-owned ones—should be supported for the jobs and they create in their communities.

To read the rest of this post, published at Public Seminar on March 7, 2018, click here.

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