Shea: Make Wednesday 'A Day Without Men' and we'll recognize women's real value

A Day Without A Woman is an outgrowth of the Women's Marches held in January in Washington D.C. and cities around the country. Here, women are shown at the Philadelphia rally.

WEDNESDAY, International Women's Day, is being marked by organizers of the Women's March on Washington to be a Day Without a Woman.

Women are being encouraged to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor and to refrain from shopping.

It's a noble gesture to point out the value of women's work, and to remind the world that women do more of their fair share of work and get less than their fair share of wages.

Debates have raged about the fact that only privileged women - those with salaries and/or flexibility in their work life - can realistically take a day off. For too many women who work at jobs that pay them hourly, a day off from work means a day off from the ability to buy food or other necessities . . . or even worse, a day of losing that job.

I don't think it's useful to criticize this attempt at solidarity, especially if the day serves to underscore just how many women are at the mercy of hourly wages.

I am also loath to criticize the event based on the reality that is likely to occur if millions of women sit out their participation at work and at home: Messes will be made. But we also know that the reality is that men won't be much bothered by a day of inconvenience . . . if they even notice. If they do notice a disruption of the day, they know that women will return Thursday to put everything back to rights.

Because that's what we do. And don't get me started on just how hellish Thursday will be when we have to catch up on a missed day of work.

There's a more effective way to make the point that the organizers want to make: Make it a day without men.

Just imagine how much more work we'd get done without the two-hour meetings and the need to create yet another PowerPoint presentation.

Imagine a day when women make key decisions, not only about business, but also about the workplace - such as building in flexibility, family leave or establishing parity in salaries.

Imagine a day when men aren't scheming to design new restrictions on a woman's control over her own body and her own health, or access to contraception . . . or to appropriate billions more to the military budget, or to concoct new ways to kill their fellow human beings.

In fact, let's expand it to a Week without Men. This would give women a week off from the second shift that has them keeping the house in order, getting meals on the table and taking care of the kids. Because, of course, if men get the week off, they naturally will have to take the kids.

Sandra Shea is the editorial page editor of the Daily News.

sheas@phillynews.com