How To Explain The Women's Strike To Your Conservative Parents

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If you're participating in the Day Without A Woman strike, you might have gotten some questions about it from the non-likeminded people in your life. In particular, your parents may not share your political views, and if they're anything like my own conservative parents, they rarely resist the opportunity to question your activist motives. But rather than ignoring them or turning the conversation into a screaming match, you can treat their questions as a place to start legitimate and enlightening political dialogue. Talking to your conservative parents about the Women's Strike will help everyone in the end, because it gives you a chance to critically examine your arguments while hopefully making your parents more understanding and compassionate towards the progressive cause.

Start with explaining your own, direct connection to the strike: why you, specifically are participating. Paid family leave, respect and justice for sexual assault victims, and the gender wage gap are some general areas of inequality that you can point to about why you decided to strike. Even if it's about something extremely controversial in your family like abortion or LGBTQ+ rights, just say that. It's crucial to be honest with your parents — you're all adults and should be well past the point of having to lie to each other to make your relationship function. If they can't respect your openness and self-awareness, then they're the ones who aren't mature enough to have the conservation, not you.

Assuming things go relatively well, talk next about the others you will be advocating for when you strike. In many ways, the strike is an expression of privilege, and you should admit that to your parents, and maybe even thank them for it. If you're doing financially well enough to participate in the strike, they might be a big part of why that's true. But it's also a stand against privilege — strikers are seeking a more egalitarian society through an intersectional lens.

Acknowledge the black women and Latinas who earn a fraction of what white women do, who can't afford to take the day off work. Tell them about the nearly 60,000 incarcerated women of color, the vast majority of whom are serving for nonviolent crimes. Recognize how lucky you are, which has helped you recognize that those who aren't as lucky deserve your advocacy.

Lastly, remind them of all that women have had to put up with recently, and ask them how they're not sick and tired of women being treated like second class citizens. In the last year alone, conservatives have talked about repealing women's right to vote, restricting women's right to abortion access, and ridiculing women who speak out against sexual assault. They've proven over and over again that women's existence, much less their dignity and autonomy, is not a priority, and millions of women across the country are done going about their daily lives while that messaging still stands. Ask your parents how they're fine with it, and hopefully you'll see some room for growth there.

Talking politics with your conservative parents is not a fun task, but it is an important part of your strike experience. Changing hearts and minds only happens when people really sit down and open up to one another, so this conversation may be even more important than attending a rally or taking the day off work. In the end, your parents will still love you, and maybe even respect you more for being a strong, passionate, thoughtful young person who lives your values.