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"Privilege" Politics and the Women's Strike


"Privilege" Politics and the Women's Strike

Lauren Kaori Gurley

Over the weekend, I spoke to Tara Finn, a 31-year cashier and single mother from Miramar, Florida who will not participate in the International Women’s Strike on March 8 because it would mean losing her job. On her off-hours, Finn has been protesting in downtown Miami and at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, and she is upset that she will have to skip Wednesday’s strike. “My work is not very lenient on people who take time off. A lot of my co-workers don’t understand why I participate in a lot of the things.


Thank you for making the point, though it's a bit hard to find it. I'm not currently working, so my "strike" is mostly on the consumption side. But I will recall and tell my one experience as a member of organized labor. It comes from my long-ago High School days (c. 1970), when I had worked part time as a cashier in a grocery store, a child of privilege among those struggling to support their families and making careers of this horrible job. Shortly after I quit, I went back to visit my sister "checkers" and honor the picket line of their wildcat strike. They were demanding (and ultimately won) access to the slightly higher-paying jobs represented by the same union and reserved for males, stocking the shelves. I wished I had still been working with them and could fully share their witness.

By the way, I continue to witness for cashiers (still mostly women) by refusing to use the self-check lanes, even when buying a couple of sodas at a convenience store. The stores are saving the wages of cashiers by running those lines, and I will not be a part of it.


In what way would "wearing your guilt on your sleeves" actually help anyone? Will it get anyone a liveable wage, more affordable housing, decent childcare or access to medical care? Women have been socialized to feel guilty for simply existing for way too long.


Not the guilt of women in general, which is absurd, but the guilt of privilege. Sheesh!


This is part of a larger problem with today's protest culture that has all but eliminated any protest but the mostly safe gathering of people to show the popularity of an opinion or political idea. Protests are mostly not designed to be disruptive, and this includes so-called strikes that are really just "if you can afford to take the day off, we'd love for you to join us." I just found out about this strike this morning, perhaps too late to participate, and I imagine many people who are involved asked permission before hand from their bosses, Not really a strike, even if it did have broad participation. A strike works only if is very disruptive. What Greenpeace does is disruptive and creative.

Secondly, right-to-work laws and the decline of unions show that we need a large, all-inclusive union, like the IWW, that can support people regardless of employer harrassment and is large enough to withstand loss of revenue from people's inability to pay hefty dues.


I don't like to order at a kiosk at a restaurant either, and I do not use the self check lines as well. People need people not objects.


You are right. I remember a teacher's strike in NYC. I believe it was in 1968. A strike works absolutely when there is disruption. I also remember protesting in DC during the Viet Nam War. It was huge. It's the people themselves who are afraid not some culture that was invented. People were not afraid to disrupt in times past, so why now? Could people have become too fearful , too polite or are they afraid of all of the people who own guns now/


If someone is a nice, and productive person, no one should feel guilty for privilege., Heck Wall Street bankers , many who grew up to the manor born certainly did not feel guilty for tanking the global economy, and getting bailed out to boot!


One point to note is that ' right to work laws' would not outlaw strikes and the pressures would not be so stringent on those paid the least if they were inconsequential. Look at the mass demonstrations occurring around the world. Perhaps what we need is a means of universal solidarity to bring awareness each and every time of those unable to demonstrate injustice of their conditions by striking.