Dear Mr. VP,
I went to work today. I thought about it a lot. Like many schools, our staff is 99% female-identified. If school was closed, that would prevent lots of moms from going to work, and some of them don’t have the same luxury of paid time off or flexible schedule that I do. They rely on us to care for their children so they can make ends meet. And if I wasn’t here, the burden of my job would fall on my female colleagues, which didn’t feel fair.
I did make a decision not to spend any money today, which means I ate a sweet potato and a package of teriyaki marinated tofu for lunch. I think we have something in the house to eat for dinner. Jelly sandwiches for all!
The thing is that much of what I do for work, like many folks who identify as women, is unpaid “women’s work.” For most kids, their default parent is their mom. This is clearly true for G, who is with me 6/7 of the time. Caring for him is my primary job, and there’s no getting out of that (not that I’m asking to). But of course the hours upon hours upon hours of parenting — including the 2.5 years I stayed home as a stay at home mom — aren’t paid. No breaks, either. Or health insurance. Or contributions to a retirement fund. Most people couldn’t afford a stay at home mom. (That link is pretty heterocentric but you’ll probably like that and it gets the point across.)
Cleaning, cooking — in most households that’s being done by a woman too. So while staying home from a job might prove a public point, and I applaud all who did it today, it doesn’t do anything to showcase the literally billions of unpaid hours of labor women do every year. Because in many cases, even if we didn’t go to our paid jobs today, we can’t stop doing that other work. Can you even imagine a day where moms stopped parenting and the burden of childcare fell only on those who are not female-identified? No? Me either.