Oxford community, professors honor women in the workplace

Posted on Mar 8 2017 - 10:20pm by Jacqueline Knirnschild, Slade Rand

Mothers, daughters and sisters in Oxford and around the world tapped into passions left over from the January Women’s March on Washington to stand in solidarity with women workers on Wednesday.

Organizers behind the protest on the morning after President Donald Trump’s inauguration called for American women to make March 8 “A Day Without a Woman.” The organization’s website outlined ways women could show their support with the International Women’s Strike planned for the same day.

“Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8 ‘A Day Without a Woman,’ in one or all of the following ways: Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses. Wear RED in solidarity with ‘A Day Without A Woman.’”

Both the march and day off were sponsored primarily by Planned Parenthood and the National Resources Defense Council. The organizers’ site claims inspiration came from New York City’s recent Bodega Strike by Yemeni immigrants and the national Day Without Immigrants.

Wednesday’s project coincided with International Women’s Day, which was founded as a Socialist labor movement in 1909 and recognized by the United Nations in 1975. American women’s protests were matched by similar demonstrations in countries including Poland, Ukraine and Indonesia.

A handful of Oxford business owners and Ole Miss employees stood in recognition of women in the international workforce on Wednesday. The women-operated Square Books promoted meaningful books, and Rebel professors wore red to class.

“We have a display of important books on women’s rights and issues,” Square Books general manager Lyn Roberts said. “We are hosting an event with H.C. Porter, the artist, this evening.”

Courtesy of Dr. Burkette

Courtesy of Allison Burkette

Allison Burkette, associate professor of linguistics, said she would have stayed home from her Wednesday class if she were not already planning on missing two class meetings for an overseas conference in April.

Burkette instead opted to wear a red Square Books Jr. T-shirt borrowed from her daughter.

“I was not in a position to not show up to work today,” Burkette said. “So I’m going to wear red to be in solidarity.”

Burkette said she only made one purchase throughout the day, at Bottletree Bakery, which is owned by a woman. Besides that, she did not participate in the economy. Her husband was out of town Wednesday, and Burkette said she was also unable to boycott her “unpaid labor at home.”

“I’m stuck with all my normal paid and unpaid labor,” Burkette said.  

Kate Centellas, associate professor of anthropology, said she carried out a “kind of half-strike.” She said she had already signed up to chaperone her son’s field trip on March 8, long before the strike was announced.

“Were I not committed to the trip, I would not be coming in to the office,” Centellas said.

However, Centellas said she shed many of her other daily responsibilities by chaperoning the field trip.

“By going on the field trip, I am essentially leaving my partner in charge of our two smaller, more demanding kids all day,” Centellas said.

Centellas said she also planned a strike at home, meaning she would not do any dishes, laundry or other chores.

Burkette said she expected more people to wear red on Wednesday, but did run into a woman on the Square sporting the protest’s color.

“I did pass an older woman on the street who was wearing red, and it could have been coincidence, but she smiled at me and said hello,” Burkette said. “I was hoping that we kind of had a moment there.”

History department chair Noell Wilson said she would have worn red if she were in town for the protest, instead of in California.

“I would have worn a red shirt and encouraged or invited all females – faculty and staff – in the history department to do the same,” Wilson said.

International studies associate professor Vivian Ibrahim said she and her colleagues usually make a day out of the annual women’s celebration on March 8.

“We all try to have a dinner together and celebrate,” Ibrahim said. “I’m hoping when my kid is old enough she’ll understand the significance and that many of the original struggles are still real.”