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Here’s a photo I took in my stunning bathroom after the Women’s March in January. A march on a weekend makes sense in the real world.

Keep International Women’s Day In Your Own Way

A note on living in the real world

I can’t afford to strike today. Sounds like a nice idea, but most women can’t afford to take a day, or a half-day, off work. Most women can’t afford to reject labor, paid or unpaid, unless they’re paying another, less-privileged woman to do it. Kids need to eat. Elders need their medication. Homes need cleaning.

A strike is unrealistic. Great feel-good vacation day if you can get it. Better luck next time with messaging that makes sense in the real world.

So no, I’m not on strike today. But because one of my many privileges is health insurance and access to healthcare, something that should be a right for every human being on earth, I’m not actually at work today. I need to deal with a thing. We are human, and bodies do things, and some of those things are great things and some of those things are not great things, and actually all of those things are just things, neutral in their lack of motivation.

I’m not sick, per se. But it’s a thing. Things happen. And as a side note, when your primary medical struggle in life has been depression, it’s a strange relief to be able to say, “Here is a Thing that is not in my mind.” Things of the body alone are so much easier to explain than things of the body and mind. Things of the body alone may likely kill you faster, but how simple the explanation! How swift the sympathy! You can conceivably go to your grave without ever having to say, “Well, actually, depression is a real medical disorder and illness that affects the body in XYZTKTKTKTKTKAsdfkajf;ldkja;lkjdsf;lakjfds;lajfs;dljfa;ldjsalfdsjdsajnever mind. Never mind. Never fucking mind.”

I am alive. I am not depressed. And I am not on strike today.

And so my point to you is this: keep International Women’s Day in your own way. We can’t all strike, or march, or make huge donations to worthy causes. But we can do our own thing in our own way. Make a tiny donation to a worthy cause; wear red; change your profile photo to whatever inspires you; share stories and quotes and images of women and girls who amaze you in the best ways. Volunteer, or don’t; be a decent person, and be especially decent to women and girls today and every day. Call your mother. Call her mother. Call somebody else’s mother and say hi. You should know this other person’s mother; random calls to mothers may not be received as kind things. Mothers are busy. Don’t waste a mother’s time. In fact, don’t waste any woman’s time. Everyone asks for our time, our resources, our recommendations, our money, our sex, our generosity, our listening ear, our emotional labor.

I’m happy to go on strike from emotional labor, actually. I’m glad to go on strike from holding anyone’s hand and explaining how to be a human.

Just be decent. Be unbelievably, heartbreakingly, gut-punchingly fucking decent. Throw that decency in the general direction of a lady. That woman may notice, and appreciate it.

What a great and terrible thing, to be a woman.

Of note: woman means many things. It doesn’t just mean “born with a vagina.” There is nuance in the world, and gender is indeed a spectrum, and if your “feminism” includes referring to elective gender reassignment surgery as “mutilation” or anything remotely condescending, you can fuck off into the sea and stay there. Once you get to the bottom, do us all a favor and inhale. Better luck next time with a personality that makes sense in the real world.

Today, do a small good thing for a woman or girl in need. Listen. Consider. Reflect. If you’re not a woman or girl, you’re not the superhero here. You’re the superhero sidekick. It’s a great line of work. Take direction well. Get a cool outfit. We all need cooler outfits. Capes deserve a comeback.

We don’t know how much time we have, any of us. And we get, at last count, one life. One.

How fucking marvelous. How fucking annoying.

We didn’t ask to be born. But here we are. Some of us are women and girls. Today is our day. But every day, really, is our day. Let’s practice remembering that.

I subscribe to a church newsletter. And here’s something that came my way today thanks to All Souls Church in America’s favorite tiny global village, New York City.

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale… When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

(Clarissa Pinkola Estes, 1945 — )

Let’s all stick around for as long as we can and do what needs doing, for others and for ourselves.

I believe in you.

Take good care.

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Sara Benincasa

Sara Benincasa

Author, REAL ARTISTS HAVE DAY JOBS (and other books). Writer of scripts. Host of WELL, THIS ISN’T NORMAL podcast. Patreon.com/SaraBenincasa