Wednesday, March 8, is not only International Women's Day but also the Day Without A Woman, a general strike with the goal of showing how much the country needs women — and therefore why equal pay, reproductive rights, and so many other feminist issues desperately need to be addressed. But the strike is not just for women; it needs the support of men, too, because the issues it's addressing are highly relevant to them — and to everyone. Feminism is not just a women's movement, and it's important for men to participate not only to show solidarity with women and non-binary people, but also for their own sake.
It would defeat the purpose of the strike for men to refuse to come to work, but there are many other ways for them to be effective allies and support the strike. People who don't plan to take the day off can wear red, avoid shopping or shop only at women- and minority-owned businesses, talk about why gender equality matters to them on social media, donate to a cause they believe in, or call their representatives to ask them to advocate for women's rights. (Or all of the above, and a whole lot more, for that matter.)
For International Women's Day more generally, men can also participate in a campaign called Mettez du Rouge, which asks them to post photos of themselves in red lipstick on social media to express their opposition to sexual violence.
Here are some reasons why men should participate in these actions — and in feminism in general, really.
1They Depend On Women
The purpose of A Day Without A Woman is to recognize "the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system — while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity." And men benefit from this value. Both at work and at home, women's (often unpaid) labor helps them, and supporting the strike is a way to show your appreciation for that.
For the curious, this is what an actual, literal day without women would look like.
2Gender Inequality Hurts Men
Patriarchy causes men pressure to conform to stereotypes and live up to the standards of toxic masculinity, which can prevent them from forming close relationships and being their full selves. Feminism seeks to liberate us from these social norms, so why wouldn't you support something that gives everyone more freedom, including yourself?
3Gender Inequality Hurts The Economy
If the strike were permanent and women just didn't work, individual companies as well as the economy as a whole would suffer. Companies with gender diversity bring in more money, care more about diversity, and have happier employees — things that people of all genders want.
4They Have A Duty To Help Educate Other Men
Unfortunately, men will often listen to other men more readily than they'll listen to women. So, to save women the emotional labor of convincing men that sexism exists, men can use the day to do some of this work themselves.
5It Sends A Clear Message
Since so many people showed up for the Women's March, Trump couldn't ignore it, and we can do the same with the strike. Whether we're boycotting business that aren't owned by women or minorities, wearing red, or staying home, the more people who participate, the more likely the government is to notice.
6Misogyny Impacts People They Love
It's likely that someone in every man's life is a woman or a non-binary person, and taking a stand against misogyny is a way to help support these people.
(And while we're on the subject, yes, the argument that people should be able to support a good cause because it simply affects human beings and not because it affects people they're directly connected to is still very, very valid. Sadly, we're just not there yet — but one day in the future, hopefully we will be.)
7It's The Right Thing To Do
Even if you don't feel personally affected by sexism or don't think you know someone who is, supporting equality is simply the right thing to do — and given all the simple ways to do it, there's no excuse not to.