As organizers across the country coordinate bus and carpool trips for the upcoming Women's March on Washington, a local feminist group is urging women to abstain from all labor—physical, as well as emotional—for two full days at the end of the month, starting on January 20th, Inauguration Day. The goal, organizers say, is to demand protections that the President-elect and GOP lawmakers openly oppose: full access to birth control and abortion, as well as a $15 minimum wage, universal childcare, and paid parental leave. In response to Trump's degradation of women, immigrants, and the disabled, strikers will also demand an end to bigotry and harassment.
"This is a way for women to express their disappointment and also show power," said Paulina Davis, a Women's Strike organizer with National Women's Liberation. "We as women collectively have the power to disrupt workplace and home life."
"If you can't get on a bus to go to D.C., if you are not able to march in NYC, you can still, on inauguration weekend, show that you are going to fight back against Trump," she added.
Organizers say the "strike" can take many forms, depending on the striker's personal circumstances: abstaining from housework like laundry or food preparation; refusing to tidy up a conference room after a work meeting, or refusing to do other administrative tasks around the office; refusing to flirt, return a smile on the street, wear makeup, or shave.
"I'm no longer going to accept one sexist remark, insinuation, action or verbalized thoughts without calling the person on it," one participant wrote on the strike's website.
"I am not going to be at work, I will not be answering any emails, I'll be striking from wearing makeup, from smiling," another wrote.
Instead of laboring, organizers wrote, women are encouraged to "be out in the streets demonstrating, and talking [to] our families, friends, and coworkers about what [we] need to make our lives fairer, happier, less hectic and more secure."
Davis clarified that the strike will not be made official until at least 20,000 people have pledged to participate. For comparison, she cited the August 1970 Women's Strike for Equality—about 50,000 marchers took to Fifth Avenue, while others pledged not to cook or clean for a day. "We don't want this to be a small fringe thing," she said. So far, the strike has about 1,500 pledges. Steps to sign the online pledge are here.
Organizers of the concurrent Women's March on Washington have said explicitly that they are not organizing an anti-Trump protest. Instead, they're presenting their march as a push for fundamental human rights. Davis said that while she agrees that Trump is a symptom of a larger problem, the significance of the November election is undeniable.
"The reality is this—hundreds of women showed up at our November meeting because there was an awakening about how far we have not come," she said. "Look at the election campaign and see not only statements made by the President-elect, but also the ways in which Hillary Clinton was criticized in ways that were very engendered."
Strike organizers say they welcome trans and non-binary participants. Men, meanwhile, are encouraged to take a different tack. "They should take on additional work at home to support women’s full participation in the demonstrations," organizers wrote.
National Women's Liberation is holding a public meeting ahead of the strike, on January 19th. The meeting will take place at 7:30 p.m., at The Commons on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.