Note: This article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
The day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, thousands of women converged on Washington, D.C., in protest. Some probably took time off from their jobs, and many probably left their children in the care of others.
For a weekend, they marched in solidarity. They carried signs with slogans that ranged from clever to obscene:Getty Images/Barbara Alpers
They demanded respect and recognition while cheering vulgar speeches and wearing vulgar costumes:Getty Images/Valerie Macon
But what they didn’t tell anyone was this: while they were gone, life went on.
Their places of business continued to function in their absence.
Their children were fed and clothed despite the fact that they weren’t there to do it.
Their homes didn’t fall into disrepair.
So when the group behind the Women’s March on Washington announced their plan for an upcoming “general strike,” many women were left wondering what was the point?
A century ago, women marched for voting rights. Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony demanded political equality, and after a long and arduous fight, they won.
Because they marched, my grandmother — raised on a South Dakota farm during the Dust Bowl — was able to go from a one-room school house to the University of South Dakota.
Because they marched, my mother was able to earn a degree and get a job that supported my father until he finished his education.
Because they marched, I was raised to believe that there was nothing I could not do. I competed with the boys — and won — academically.
Because they marched, I joined the military at 19 and did the same job as the men I worked with — and I did it as well as or better than they did.
Because they marched, I was confident that an unplanned pregnancy didn’t mean that I had to depend on my parents or a man for my future — or my son’s future.
Because they marched, I had the freedom to find my own voice — and access to a platform from which to use it.
A good education, a great career, and the love of a family — I have everything those women marched for and more than they ever dreamed was possible…
At least, I thought I did — until women started talking about the recent March on Washington and the upcoming strike. Since then, I have learned a few things:
If I value spending time with my family and cooking meals for my husband and children over marching to erase the non-existent “gender pay gap,” I need to “turn in my woman card.”
If I think that a woman’s choice should be made before she gets into bed with a man rather than after she sees two pink lines on a stick, I need to “turn in my woman card.”
If I believe that there is more value in simply living my life as a woman than in wearing my womanhood as a political prop, I need to “turn in my woman card.”
If I believe that I should be judged on merit rather than gender, then I need to “turn in my woman card.”
So when thousands of women “strike” on a future date, I will be taking care of my husband and my kids. I will be working my regular job. I’ll be too busy being of value to stand on the streets demanding to be valued.
And if that means I need to “turn in my woman card,” that’s cool. Because no card could ever determine my value. I do that myself.