Women of Calvin participate in walkout for solidarity

The Women’s March on Washington administration team organized another protest this Wednesday: A Day Without a Woman.

The organization stated on their website that “on International Women’s Day, March 8th, women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity.”

Similar to the Day Without Immigrants protest last month, this past Wednesday, women were encouraged to abstain from work and school in an effort to raise awareness of still existent sexism. This was meant to show what it would look like without women as active participants in society.

The Women’s March organization asked women to do three things: take the day off of work, abstain from shopping for the day (with exceptions for small businesses owned by minorities or women) and wear red in solidarity with all women around the globe.

Anneke Kapteyn, a senior, decided to bring this protest directly to Calvin’s campus. She created a facebook event, “A Day Without a Woman: Calvin Walkout,” and encouraged students to either skip school entirely in an act of protest, or, if unable to entirely skip the day, then perform a fifteen-minute walk-out at 10:45 a.m. or 2 p.m. She also encouraged students to wear red to support the cause. Over 400 students were invited to the event, and about 40 stated they would participate.

“It’s not a ton [of participants],” stated Kapteyn. “But it’s better than just me skipping my classes. I wanted some people to do it with.”

“The purpose is just to draw attention to the ways in which sexism is still such a real problem,” said Kapteyn.

Although Calvin does value the voice of each student, there is still societal and systematic sexism.

“At Calvin I do feel supported as a woman, but I think there’s still things like stigma against women,” said Kapteyn. “Because I am in a male-dominated field, I do still have men mansplain things to me or act like I’m not as smart, or men leading group discussions and not listening to my voice. It’s things which are really small but it’s like these little pings and they make me feel like they don’t think I should have as much agency as I think I should.”

The walkout evoked numerous feelings from students, some in support and some with reservations.

Junior Amanda Davio was unable to participate in the walkout because she did not have class during the designated times.

“I think it’s a good cause to support but I think it has the potential to be viewed negatively,” said Davio. “I think as far as the demonstration goes, it is a powerful movement and it has the ability to say a lot and bring a lot of people together.”

Senior Tory Parr did have class during the walkout time, but she chose not to participate.

“I like the idea of it, I think it’s very powerful, but the reason that I am not going to walk out of class is because I don’t think that a lot of people will and if I am just walking out by myself, that’s not really the statement I want to express,” stated Parr.

A Day Without a Woman taking place on International Women’s Day was no coincidence. Another goal of this event was to bring people together from all over the globe.

“[The protest] is a thing that brings women together,” stated Parr. “In general, women across the world are connected because we are all women, but a day for it is very powerful and to come together, being in different cultures, being in different countries with different presidents and leaders, I think it’s sort of a spotlight.”

The protest was intentionally meant to include women of all races and ethnic backgrounds. Western feminist movements have often been criticized for only including the voices of white women.

“Intersectional feminism is incredibly important, because it’s true that white women have perpetuated racism through their feminism,” said Kapteyn. “So without intersectional feminism, women are still being disenfranchised by other women, which is a crime and a tragedy.

“There’s strength in diversity, we all know that,” stated Kapteyn.

Some students felt as if there was not a need for the protest, at Calvin and in general.

“I think if women want to show that they are important members of society and if this is the way they want to do that then that’s fine with me. I’ll support it. I’m okay with it. I guess, I’m not quite sure what it’s fighting against. Like who’s out there saying that women aren’t important members of society, so that’s my only reservation against it,” stated junior Luke VanLaar.

“This is just about celebrating women,” said Kapteyn. “Celebrating their achievements and contributions and seeing what it would look like if women weren’t in school, weren’t in faculties.”