The cardiac surgeon at MedStar Washington Hospital Center performed a lifesaving operation.
The police chief in Portsmouth, Va., fought crime.
The hard hats at the salvage company in Hyattsville, Md., had a productive day.
All because women went to work.
A day without women? Can’t happen.
Women make up 47 percent of America’s workforce — and they are conscientious to a fault. On Wednesday, the vast majority of them worked.
A Day Without a Woman strike — orchestrated by activists who wanted to prove how vital women are through their absence — was possibly the worst thing ever to ask women to do.
Because go ahead and ask a bee to stop buzzing, a Kardashian to stop posing, President Trump to stop bronzing — those won’t happen either. Working is what women do.
Even the women I know who could and did stay out of their workplaces in protest went home and furiously wrote postcards, called members of Congress, stayed busy.
“I can’t imagine not coming to work,” said Jane Matt, 29, who works at Community Forklift, the construction salvage place in Hyattsville. “I’m here to challenge every single sexist comment, assumption or act every single day. I do it by working.”
Hard hat on, walkie-talkie on her hip, Matt dashed between helping construction workers wrestle vintage windows into the warehouse and sorting granite slabs with customers.
Community Forklift is a great workplace for women.
One of her bosses is Ruthie Mundell, a 38-year-old woman who has been a director at the company for 11 years. The chief executive of the company is Nancy J. Meyer. Much of the company is run by women, and its very existence makes its statement every day.
Like cardiac surgeon Jennifer Ellis and Portsmouth Police Chief Tonya Chapman, Matt works in a male-dominated field and holds her own.
In those worlds, skipping work goes against a lifetime of striving to show that women can do the work.
So they showed up. And so did women all across the country: Presentations were given, people were hired, planes were flown, reports were written, troops were moved and murders were solved.
These women love their jobs, have proved they can do them and — even though statistics show they’re still paid about 20 percent less than their male counterparts and they make up a fraction of upper management — they couldn’t imagine not showing up for work.
“#ADayWithoutWomen strike? Not for me. . . . what would my patients do? I’m proud to be a woman, a nurse and have a job that I Love!” tweeted Nurse Patriot.
Some of that determination may have been rooted in fear. Fear of losing status. Fear of losing respect. Fear of being painted as ungrateful. All valid fears.
“Women already have enough to overcome at the workplace,” a banker friend told me on Facebook. “I worry that this type of protest does more harm than good.”
The strike also asked women to stop their unpaid labor. In other words: Make your own dinner, guys.
I tried this. At 8:05, there was still no food on the table. The youngest child was on his fourth banana. I caved and reheated last night’s turkey chili.
“I’m done now. You do the rest,” I declared. Gutsy, on the eve of middle school science night, don’t you think?
Banana boy put himself to sleep, and science night was moving along.
Then it all came crashing down with a 10 p.m. meltdown by two males who couldn’t find the glue stick. They needed the Uterine Tracking Device to help. I gave in again.
Because even if we do decide to stop work, we know the mess we’ll have to clean up the next day.
And there were plenty of women who worked out of real fear. And necessity.
“If I don’t work, we don’t eat,” a 68-year-old worker at a Maryland Target told me Wednesday morning.
She didn’t think she’d keep her job, even if she called in sick or took a legitimate vacation day.
Think she’s paranoid? Check out how unkind social media was to those who protested:
“An ungrateful woman missed work without a valid excuse. I fired her and hired an unemployed man. #daywithoutwomen #adaywithoutwomen.”
And this one:
“Notice: to all of my employees- if you miss work for this. . . Your fired! #daywithoutwomen.”
Yes, organizers figured out that though women make up 47 percent of the nation’s workforce, they are nearly 55 percent of the U.S. workforce earning an hourly wage.
Women are also either the primary or only breadwinners in 42 percent of the nation’s households.
Organizers suggested to women that if they had to work, they could wear red to show their support. This was not lost on the Target lady, who quickly pointed out to me that her entire team’s Target red could be her way to address the disrespect she still feels on the job every day.
“I couldn’t take the day off. But when we do our morning huddle, I’m going to point out that everyone is wearing red,” she said. “And because we’re all wearing red, we can at least think about equality.”