Geneva, NY – In Geneva on March 8th, over two hundred women and their supporters walked out, went on strike, and rallied in front of FLX Live on Exchange Street in solidarity with women across the globe. From Madrid, to London, to Buenos Ares as well as across the United States, women took to the streets in opposition to sexual and racial violence, economic inequality, aggressive policing and endless war. This is the second year that Geneva women have joined this international demonstration.
The March 8th event continued the energy that has been building all over the US in the #Me, Too and Time’s Up movements of women against sexual harassment. The demonstration in Geneva highlighted women’s work. Women brought items or made posters representing their work and hung them on red clotheslines displayed inside FLX Live. Tamarie Cataldo, of Geneva, brought hair-curlers, an apron, and a page cut from a 1950s women magazine from the 1950s titled, “I Hate Being Pregnant and I Hate Sex.” She explained, “I brought the magazine cut out to show how far we’ve come in sixty years but also how things have remained the same. Women still have to plan the meals and stock the cupboards. We engage in an endless stream of household chores and still can’t achieve the flawlessly decorated and spotless homes that society expects. The capitalist machine banks on women performing these invisible tasks without for free.” The women’s collective art project will be on display at the Geneva Historical Society from March 15 till April 10.
Rather than featuring well-known speakers, the Geneva event opened the mic to anyone who wanted to share why she was on strike. Maggie Maclean, who came all the way from Buffalo to attend, said, “I strike because as an autistic woman I experience discrimination every day. I strike because as an advocate for people with disabilities my work is too often unrecognized by other activists. I strike because the Trump administration is trying to roll back the Americans with Disabilities Act. I strike because health care for those with disabilities is a feminist issue.”
Melissa Rodney, of Geneva, performed her spoken-word poem celebrating radical women like Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, and Assata Shakur. The poem’s last stanza says:
Today we don’t mourn, we celebrate.
here and now
and the anger, frustration, that lives at our core
keep it . . .remember it . . . . USE IT
Geneva, they told me to sit down, shut up and stay still.
My voice is not needed here.
I said, “Our voice . . her voice . .my voice . .
Its just the beginning, you have no idea what is to come . . . . .
The event concluded with an announcement of a new initiative to end sexual harassment of restaurant and service sector workers in the Finger Lakes. Between seventy and ninety percent of restaurant workers have experienced sexual harassment. Over half of that harassment comes from customers. Finger Lakes Against Sexual Harassment (FLASH) is building a solidarity network of customers, community members, workers, and neighbors who can be counted on to support and defend workers who report harassment and discrimination in their workplace. For more information, go to fingerlakesagainstsexualharassment.com.