The McDonald's sexual harassment strike isn't just brave – it's historic

It will be the first multi-state US strike focused on sexual harassment, which is exceptionally rife in the restaurant industry

The Week in Patriarchy is a weekly roundup of what’s happening in the world of feminism and sexism. If you’re not already receiving it by email, make sure to subscribe.

Would you like fries and a side of feminist protest with that?

McDonald’s workers across the country have voted to stage a one-day strike next week, protesting on-the-job sexual harassment. The strike, organized by women’s committees at dozens of McDonald’s restaurants, will start at lunchtime on 18 September, and take place across 10 cities. It’s not clear how many people will take part, but organizers note that hundreds of people have been involved in planning the walkout.

The McDonald’s strike is not just brave, it will be historic. According to the organizers it will be the first multi-state strike in America focused on sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment, it should be noted, is exceptionally rife in the restaurant industry, where workers often rely on tips rather than a living wage. A 2014 report from Restaurant Opportunities Center United found 90% of female employees and 70% of male employees have experienced some form of sexual harassment. The report also found that the restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Several of the organizers of the McDonald’s strike are women who have filed complaints about pervasive harassment at McDonalds franchises with the EEOC. They say that McDonald’s has done nothing to address their complaints, and are demanding the company enforce policies to create a safer workplace.

We should all be behind the brave people striking next week, and I really hope the walkout gets the attention it deserves. Ever since it went mainstream, almost a year ago, #MeToo has (justifiably) been criticized of being co-opted by the stories of wealthy white women. Meanwhile, it is low-wage workers in the service industries, who are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. The media just doesn’t focus on their stories as much – unless, of course, a celebrity chef is involved.

Hey, Apple, size matters

Women’s hands are, on average, an inch shorter and almost half an inch less wide than male hands. You’d think that might be something phone companies took into account when designing their products. Not Apple, apparently. This week saw backlash over their decision to discontinue its 4in iPhone SE, while introducing a 6.5in screen iPhone XS Max. As many women pointed out the move to bigger screens isn’t necessarily better if you’ve got smaller hands.

While Apple, the world’s first trillion-dollar company, is hailed as innovative, it always seems forget women when it comes to its design decisions. Last year the company was criticized when it was revealed its new $5bn HQ which featured a two-story yoga room, 9,000 “drought-tolerant trees”, but no daycare center. And Apple famously overlooked period tracking when it first launched its health kit. I thought they were all supposed to be geniuses over there? Is taking into account 50% of the population really that hard?

Having kids means you can’t wear heels and lipsticks …

According to Britain’s National Health Service, anyway. The NHS has been criticized for an advert about emergency contraceptive that seemed to suggest pregnancy removed a woman’s right to wear shoes. The poster had a picture of a high heel and lipstick next to a pink dummy, with text that read: “Would you give up this for this?” Can someone please point me to the law that says you have to?

Keep an eye on the Violence Against Women Act

The landmark law, which governs investigations and prosecutions of violent crimes against women, will expire at the end of this month unless Congress steps in. Congress doesn’t seem to be very eager to step in. Read more about in this Los Angeles Times overview.

Missy Elliot and her funky white sister will cheer your weekend up

Mary Halsey’s karaoke cover of Missy Elliott’s Work It recently went viral, and Missy hailed Halsey as her “funky white sister”. Ellen DeGeneres recently had them both on the show rapping Work It together and, I promise you, it will give you a mood boost.

Contributor

Arwa Mahdawi

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The #MeToo reckoning continues – and it's stranger than ever | Jessica Valenti
Another week, and more resignations and firings over sexual harassment – including a truly strange departure from Republican congressman Trent Franks

Jessica Valenti

09, Dec, 2017 @3:31 PM

Article image
Can Trump spare us his outrage on sexual harassment? | Jessica Valenti
This is a man who has been accused of sexual assault, harassment, groping, overt misogyny and more dozens of times over. His hypocrisy is galling

Jessica Valenti

18, Nov, 2017 @4:07 PM

Article image
Women shouldn't have to tell abortion stories to remind lawmakers they're human
#YouKnowMe is both powerful and profoundly depressing – women shouldn’t have to justify wanting bodily autonomy

Arwa Mahdawi

18, May, 2019 @12:00 PM

Article image
Make 'feminism' the word of the year until women feel safe
As the outing of abusive men continues and the world sees the power of women behind this cultural moment, we have to continue the hard work

Jessica Valenti

16, Dec, 2017 @3:00 PM

Article image
The youth protest movement is bringing me calm in a time of chaos | Jessica Valenti
It’s been a week since the march, and I’m still overwhelmed with gratitude for young people and their ability to organize

Jessica Valenti

31, Mar, 2018 @2:00 PM

Article image
Are Texas’s abortion laws being used for state-sponsored spousal harassment? | Arwa Mahdawi
A Texas man is suing his ex-wife’s friends for helping her get an abortion – whether he wins or not, the lawsuit is sending a terrifying message to women

Arwa Mahdawi

18, Mar, 2023 @1:00 PM

Article image
If violence isn't the way to end racism in America, then what is? | Arwa Mahdawi
The uncomfortable truth is that, sometimes, violence is the only answer left

Arwa Mahdawi

30, May, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Sexual assault is fun if we can all 'lighten up' about it
A South Carolina congressman pokes fun at sexual assault allegations facing Brett Kavanaugh and manages to belittle Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the same time

Arwa Mahdawi

22, Sep, 2018 @7:48 PM

Article image
Biden's likely pick to lead the Pentagon isn't a win for feminism | Arwa Mahdawi
Michèle Flournoy might become the first woman in charge of the Pentagon, but it seems unlikely she’ll do anything to actually change US foreign policy for the better

Arwa Mahdawi

21, Nov, 2020 @2:00 PM

Article image
It's grim time for abortion rights in the US, but activists are still energized | Arwa Mahdawi
The Trump administration issued a rule barring organizations that provide abortions from federal money, but several states are already trying to protect the right

Arwa Mahdawi

23, Feb, 2019 @1:00 PM