With the Plaza Hotel, which President Trump once owned, as a backdrop, a crowd gathered at the southeast corner of Central Park on Wednesday afternoon as part of the “A Day Without a Woman” strike. The initiative encouraged women to abstain from labor, both paid and unpaid, for the day, in order to “highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the U.S. and global economies.”
Set to coincide with International Women’s Day, the protest was organized by the same team behind January’s Women’s March on Washington, a massive Saturday protest that coincided with many sister marches across the country and ultimately became the largest single-day demonstration in United States history.
Wednesday’s gathering was promoted as “a show of solidarity and revolutionary love,” ahead of another rally in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park on Wednesday evening, and the crowd, overwhelmingly female but otherwise diverse, was appropriately buoyant. A giddy, conspiratorial air, perhaps owing to publicly playing hooky with hundreds of other people, pervaded.
Though the protest was not directly aimed at President Trump, there was little doubt about how those at the rally felt about the commander in chief, his policy agenda and his past comments boasting about groping women. In a quiet lull between anti-Trump chants, a white-haired woman spontaneously yelled, “He’s so gross!” and those flanking her erupted in giggles.
Men milled around the crowd peddling red T-shirts for $10 apiece, likely unaware that one of the day’s directives encouraged women to avoid shopping. One seller, holding a shirt up to his chest as he weaved between attendees, halfheartedly made his pitch: “Shirts for the ladies, women are important.”
As the “Day Without a Woman” demonstration was being promoted, critics voiced concerns about its exclusivity, pointing out that willingly going without a day’s pay is not feasible for many women. Women’s March on Washington co-chair Bob Bland acknowledged that reality, pointing to other ways in which women may choose to participate, including wearing red in solidarity.
Tanya Ghahremani, 25, credited her “privileged position” as a staffer at Bustle, which gave its employees the day off, with allowing her to be at the rally, which she attended with co-workers.
Maribeth Whitehouse, a New York City public school teacher, took a personal day Wednesday to participate in the strike, toting a sign reading “OFF WITH HIS THUMBS,” a reference to the president’s rampant Twitter use.
Having attended the Women’s March on Washington in January, Whitehouse, 53, said, “That energy is still here.” Referring to the diversity of the crowd, Whitehouse said that she was encouraged by the continuing trend of “women from all walks of life coming together.”
“It’s not just 20-year-old girls with pussyhats on,” she continued. “This man has bit off more than he can chew.”
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