Identity

As Trump Takes Office, Women Across America Are Striking in Protest

As Trump and his administration get to work cutting vital social institutions like Medicaid, Medicare, the ACA, and Planned Parenthood, women across the country are striking to send a strong message: We won't pick up the pieces for you.
January 20, 2017, 6:01pm
Leila Ettachfini

The Women's March on Washington and its sister marches aren't the only ways women are protesting the new Trump administration this weekend. Today and tomorrow women across the country are going on strike. They are striking from paid and unpaid jobs, emotional labor, childcare, fake smiles, and more.

Women Strike, a product of the National Women's Liberation (NWL) activist group, seeks to emphasize the fact that the cuts championed by both Trump and Republicans in Congress—to "eliminate every social contract from public schools to Medicare to Social Security"—means that they "expect the family (that is, WOMEN) to fill in the gaps and pick up the pieces," according to their official poster. The message they'd like to send? "NO WE WON'T." Many of the women striking also plan to march, but for those unable to do both, the strike provides a mode of resistance that any and all women can participate in to a degree of their choosing.

Read More: How to Prepare and Stay Safe While You March

On Thursday night, NWL held a meet-up to discuss the strike, where over 50 women were in attendance. There, Jenny Brown, long-time feminist activist and NWL organizer, said that the goal of the strike is "to put the focus on women's contributions and the disconnect between our contributions and how we're being treated in the political arena." She was joined by women like Carol Giardina, a professor at Queen's College who organized an illegal abortion network out of her dorm room in the early 60s, as well as young attendees with new and diverse beliefs on feminism, piqued by the recent election.

Brown explains how the election set the wheels in motion for the strike. "We wanted to clearly say, No. This is not going to be good for women. This is going to pile more work on women," says Brown. Strike organizers from NWL were also motivated by the increase in the turnout of their monthly meetings after the election. Organizer Armine Kalan tells Broadly that almost 500 women tried to attend their first meeting, post-election results. Before, that number fluctuated from around 15 to 20.

We've faced down a lot of male supremacists and I think we can do it again.

One of the main tenets of the strike is intersectionality. The group calls upon all women, girls, trans people, and non-binary people to join. The NWL also has a Women of Color Caucus within their organization to ensure that they are addressing the issues faced by women of color in a way that feminist movements and organizations have failed to do in the past. The hope for an inclusive, intersectional strike was represented at Thursday's NWL meeting, where the generational divide between respective feminisms was present but constructive. Seasoned women's liberation activists like Giardina, who spoke with her fist in the air and finished her presentation with, "I love you sister freedom fighters, and I'll see you at the march!", sat near women like Nikomeh Anderson, a new member of NWL, who later spoke to Broadly about the intersectionality of the strike.

"We are using our power as women to connect other people who are oppressed and bring to light all the different [struggles], like Black Lives Matter," Anderson said.

Read More: Meet the Former Undocumented Immigrant Running for Congress to Fight Trump

Since the announcement of the strike, the organization has received over 7,000 pledges to join. With these pledges, women have often offered testimonies for their reasons to strike, ranging from protesting sexist, racist work environments to being expected to keep up a facade of contentment at home. More personal testimonies can be read on their website. Jenny Brown, who is palpably respected in the community where she's fought for women's rights since 1985, offered me her own: Shortly after the devastating election results, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Brown is currently covered under Obamacare. If the ACA is repealed, she could face the reality of having no health coverage with a pre-existing condition.

Still, she offers some optimism. "We have had a lot of right-wing governments over the years and the movement has continued to struggle and grow. We've faced down a lot of male supremacists and I think we can do it again."