The Radical Resistance of Sick Days

“All of culture is working in collaboration for us not to rest and when we do listen to our bodies and take rest, many feel extreme guilt and shame.”

The Radical Resistance of Sick Days
Photo by Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Last week didn’t go as planned. After a weekend of two big nights out partying (like, who are we?!) My husband and I both promptly got our second round of COVID. I was planning to write all about the NC State Institute for Emerging Issues conference I spoke at for this week’s newsletter, but instead I am prioritizing rest. I am napping, I am not pushing myself and I’m accepting that for some of the week my brain has felt like scrambled eggs and I’m not able to “do it all” at my regular level of output.

I’ve been thinking about how 2020 normalized some absolutely horrific working conditions. Obviously, many low-paid “essential” workers were thrust into high exposure situations with few protections, access to paid sick days or health care. For those of us who were staying at home, parents were supposed summon superhuman abilities to care for children, proctor virtual school, and somehow continue to fully engage in our jobs. I am honestly still mad about this. I’m also mad that the legacy of this is that it’s normalized that the “flexibility” for some to work at home means that there is no reason to ever take a sick day and actually rest. Working from home is not resting. Caring for children and maintaining your regular professional output is not possible without serious personal costs that are unacceptable to ask people to do in exchange for getting paid. In a country without mandated sick leave, and for the millions of freelancers and hourly workers, perhaps this feels like an immovable fact of life. But I refuse to accept that it has to be this way.

During my COVID week and I’ve been circling back to a powerful book from 2022, Rest is Resistance, A Manifesto by Tricia Hersey. Let me share a few snippets with you.

“All of culture is working in collaboration for us not to rest and when we do listen to our bodies and take rest, many feel extreme guilt and shame.”
“You are worthy of rest. We don’t have to earn rest. Rest is not a luxury, privilege or a bonus we must wait for once we are burned out. I hear so many repeat the myth of rest being a privilege and I understand this concept and still deeply disagree with it. Rest is not a privilege because our bodies are still our own, no matter what the current systems teach us. The more we think of rest as a luxury, the more we buy into the systematic lies of grind culture. Our bodies and spirits do not belong to capitalism, no matter how it is theorized and presented.”

Thank you to members of the Double Shift who contribute to this newsletter monthly that allow me to take some sick time without fear of financial consequence. I wish everyone had this and I want to use my platform to advocate for rest and to make my own sick days transparent.

Since this week's newsletter is short, I highly recommend checking out this fantastic article in Vox News about America's aftercare crisis, featuring Double Shift member and guest, Dr. Liz Baltaro!

For this week’s members-only thread, let’s keep it light. Since many of you have been with The Double Shift since its podcast incarnation days, I wanna hear, what podcasts are you digging right now? Members, check your inboxes Thursday at noon. Becoming a member supports feminist journalism, and you get perks like members-only hangouts and an audio version of this newsletter. It starts at $7/mo. If you want in and can’t afford it, shoot me an email and I’ll gift you a donated membership.


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