Mother's Day Strike: Threat to Roe v. Wade sparks call for no work, no shopping and 'no more tolerating being treated like guests in our own bodies'

·5 min read
The Mother's Day Strike is calling on participants to call off work and curb spending in protest over the threat to Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. (Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The Mother's Day Strike is calling on participants to call off work and curb spending in protest over the threat to Roe v. Wade and abortion rights. (Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Like most people, activist Allison Kolarik found out that Roe v. Wade is poised to be overturned on Monday night, when a leaked draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito was published by Politico. Kolarik immediately started an Instagram Live so she could speak out and connect with mutuals who were also reeling from this development. (Just 30% of respondents to the most recent Yahoo News/YouGov survey felt that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, while a 54% majority agreed that abortion is "a constitutional right that women in all states should have some access to.")

"My Lives are usually pretty mellow, but I was angry," Kolarik, who uses she/they pronouns, tells Yahoo Life. "And I was like, I know this isn't gonna be OK at all, so what are we gonna do?"

By the time they hopped off Instagram Live around four hours later, they had their answer — with a domain name secured and a website already up and running. Meet the Mother's Day Strike, a week-long call to action that kicks off on Sunday, May 8 — Mother's Day — and runs through May 15. In between, there will be, per the website Kolarik set up, "no work. No unpaid labor. No shopping. No restaurants. No more tolerating being treated like guests in our own bodies."

The threat to the landmark 1973 abortion rights decision has already given rise to demonstrations across the country. While Kolarik is a firm believer in the right to protest, they felt that the Supreme Court news called for a different, more drastic approach — one that would have economic repercussions and "hit 'em in the bank."

"Marching is laughable at this point — and dangerous," they say. "The people in power, they don't care. They laugh at us now, or they sic their police on us. And if you get arrested and you get a felony, you can't vote, can you? ... Writing letters to the editors brings social media traction. Great. Do you think any of them care? No. But a strike — a general strike? That stops the animal in its tracks. It stops the machines."

Kolarik points to Oct. 24, 1975, the day 90% of the women in Iceland went on strike — refusing to work, provide childcare, cook or perform other domestic tasks — to demand equal rights. Within five years of that watershed moment — referred to as the "Women's Day Off" or "Long Friday" — the country had its first female president. Elected in 1980, Vigdis Finnbogadottir holds the distinction of not only being the first woman to be democratically elected head of state anywhere in the world, but as a divorcée, was also the first woman in Iceland to adopt, at age 41, as a single mother.

"It took them 24 hours of paralyzing the country for them to have their demands met," Kolarik says, expressing their hope to have the same impact.

Mother's Day Strike founder Allison Kolarik launched the movement within hours of a leaked SCOTUS draft being published. (Photo: Allison Kolarikl)
Mother's Day Strike founder Allison Kolarik launched the movement within hours of a leaked SCOTUS draft being published. (Photo: Allison Kolarikl)

But she is also sensitive to the fact that not showing up to work is a luxury that many cannot afford.

"I personally don't expect 164 million Americans — that's how many [females of all ages] there are in this country — to walk off of their jobs," they say. "I understand that there are single mothers and people who literally cannot miss 10 minutes of work, because it sinks them financially."

For those who can't commit to a full week (or even a day) off work for the cause, the Mother's Day Strike site offers other suggestions to show support and signal boost. This runs the gamut from making a donation to an organization fighting to protect abortion rights, to planning grocery orders and gas runs ahead of the strike and suspending all purchases — including suspending all streaming services for the week, which Kolarik personally plans to do — from May 8 to May 15. Those with the means to do so are also encouraged to help out other strikers with rides or meals to help see them through the week; Kolarik is also hoping to set up mutual aid funds that would offer financial support to strikers in need.

Related video: Protests held nationwide over Roe v. Wade

Supporters are already using the hashtags #MothersDayStrike and #MothersDayStrike2022. And as Kolarik points out in a TikTok, strikers aren't limited to "just women; it's anyone who has owned or does own a uterus." And they also don't have to be mothers; Kolarik is not, though their partner has two children. That said, the Roe v. Wade news coming ahead of Mother's Day, which also marks the first day of the strike, carries significance.

"It's just poetic, because isn't motherhood what these right-wing fanatics think that a woman's only purpose is?" she says. "The narrative that all AFAB [assigned female at birth] women are destined to become mothers and that's the only goal, or one of the most important ones, is absolutely caveman s***."

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