Last Friday, Jezebel recognized International Women’s Day and the women who spent the day striking, protesting, organizing, and taking collective actions to emphasize our labor and improve working conditions. It was a day to remember why we strike, and the real-life successes born of protest. So now I want to toss that idea to you, and hear about the best—or most impactful—protest you’ve ever attended.
If you’re not the type to wax poetic on serious labor injustices, I’m open to silly protest stories, too, like the time you protested bad lunch in the student union, or the time in middle school when you tried to organize an animal rights protest outside a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Northern Virginia, only to learn your parents went to Popeyes instead because all your posturing made them hungry. (That last one is not from personal experience, at all, I assure you.) Victories or life-changing moments are on the table, too. Whatever you’ve got, I want to hear it.
But first, let’s look at your most recent winners. These are, objectively, the absolute best times you stood up for something and triumphed.
Who wouldn’t watch a movie about Office Magic’s successes?:
I went to graduate school for a degree in a male-dominated STEM field. The culture in the department and university was terrible. Women were routinely sexually harassed and silenced through the department. I built up a group of women in the department and fought for two hard years alongside them and other amazing women at the university to change things. We were told we were too negative and threatened with funding cuts, etc. to try and silence us, but we kept pushing. We built up a strong group of allies and trained them in bystander intervention. I built pressure within the administration. And finally, the department was forced to form a committee for climate and inclusion that had university oversight. After two years of having every one of our requests and ideas rejected, they were finally all implemented through the committee. While the culture of the department will take time to fully change, I’m proud of the work I did to push it in the right direction and make things better for future graduate students.
StillCopperboom knows there’s no better feeling than quitting your job:
It was a small thing, but I got to quit a job in righteous indignation, and that was really satisfying.
I worked at a tutoring center, and my boss believed I was using my time with students to study for my own exam I had coming up. In reality, I was showing the student how to make effective flash cards, and allowed her to quiz me for 2 minutes as a demobribe to get her to make her own. Without even asking me about what she saw, my boss removed me from the schedule for the following week- a loss of hours I truly could not afford.
Little did my boss know that my brother worked at a different location of the same tutoring company, and his bosses absolutely adored him. I went to that location, talked with them for maybe 5 minutes, and they hired me on the spot. Then I got to call my boss and say, “I wanted to let you know that I won’t be coming back in, and I don’t appreciate having my integrity questioned.” Boss sputtered something to the effect of, “Well, wait, let’s talk about this…” to which I replied, “No, I don’t want or need to discuss it further. You can mail my final check.”
One of the things I know unquestionably about myself is that I am a good teacher, and to be able to quit a job where that was questioned (after I had proven it repeatedly) was so deeply, emotionally satisfying at a time when I was near a breaking point emotionally and financially.
PamplemousseLips is a hero to the people and a governmental deviant, so, potentially perfect:
I used to work in a government subsidy program that paid for child care for needy families. I had an 86 year old client who was caring for her 3 grandchildren ages 5-10 in my caseload. She missed an appointment and I had to initiate a termination of her case. She didn’t get in contact until the day after her case technically closed but I went into the program managers office and basically begged on my hands and knees for her to do something. This poor old woman could never afford to pay out of pocket (it easily cost over 2000 dollars a month for these all three of these kids to get after school care) and depended on child care to make it to doctors appointments. Plus having the help of child care helped her keep up with them after hours, she could never have managed them all entirely on her own.
My boss reluctantly fudged the details in this clients case notes so that she could be granted an appeal and we were able to get her case back in good standing so she didn’t lose subsidy. This job sucked and was really difficult for a lot of different reasons but I always felt really good about being able to keep her case open even though we did something that was absolutely not ok to do it.
Tool of the Matriarchy burned their racist manager:
I used to be a barmaid in a remote Australian town that had a large Aboriginal population and was so, so racist. The pub had two bars in separate rooms, connected by an opening behind the bar so the bar staff could move easily between them.
One quiet evening an Aboriginal woman staggered into one of the bars (which was otherwise empty), crying and bleeding from a head wound. She’d been attacked by her husband. I locked the door, called the cops, rendered first aid, cleaned her up as much as I could, made hopefully comforting noises and gave her a glass of water. You know…basic human stuff. I kept shuttling back into the other bar, so no customers were inconvenienced and the pub didn’t lose any sales. The police came and took her to hospital, I unlocked the door and straightened the bar, and it was all over, right? Wrong.
The manager was furious. He bawled me out in front of a bar full of customers. I should not have given any help to the woman. In future I should turn any injured Aboriginal people away and would be sacked if I failed to do so (Add several minutes of racial and ableist slurs, expletives, and insults).
Slow blink. I asked what I should do if a white woman came in and asked for help in the same circumstance. Cue another torrent; a white woman should be given whatever help she needed.
Lock eye contact. “So, just to be clear…you’re threatening to sack me if I refuse to follow a racially discriminatory policy. In front of witnesses”. Uncomfortable silence. Eye contact maintained. He broke it. Deeply uncomfortable silence, especially from mortified customers.
No more said on the matter. Manager no longer liked me. I gave not one hot shit. Racist trash.
Drop those protest stories below. I won’t tell.