Nevertheless, she persisted.
I write this as partner to a very capable, compassionate and wise woman, and father to a astonishingly talented and excitingly intelligent daughter.
I write this as a friend to the exceptional women with whom I work and their daughters who will no doubt grow to be independent images of their moms and dads.
I write this for the men, including my son, who have grown up respecting the women who have passed through our lives in one way or the other.
I write this as a feminist.
When Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rose to offer her objections to the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for the position of Attorney General of the United States, she took the lectern as a senator among senators.
She was banished from the lectern and not allowed to speak as a woman.
Say what you will, she was removed because she is a woman.
In her objection to the nomination of Sessions, Warren quoted in her comments from a letter written by Coretta Scott King, the widow of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addressing the possibility of Sessions being named as federal court judge.
King wrote, “I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting.
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts.
“Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”
For reading these comments, Warren was silenced by Republican senators, specifically Mitch McConnell, for the sin of impugning (insulting or belittling) the work and actions of a sitting senator - although Sessions was not in the senate at the time the King letter was written.
Now some might argue Warren was not acted against as a woman, but rather as a senator breaking the rules of the senate. Just that simple. She broke the rules.
The next day four male senators, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were allowed to read from the same letter with no repercussions whatsoever.
McConnell explained his action in demanding her silence simply and clearly.
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Nevertheless, she persisted.
That pesky woman! How dare she?! She persisted after being told she couldn’t say what she was saying.
Well, thank God for women who persist although men try, and try, and try to shut them up and control the message.
Thank God, for women, both Democrats and Republicans, who break the bonds of tradition and are slowly but surely wresting the reins of government control from stiff-necked men on both sides of the aisle. Slowly. Sigh.
Thank God for women who stay true to purpose despite years of disparaging comments from the likes of religious leaders such as Pat Robertson, who said, “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”
Thank goodness for women who stay the course despite the emotional and spiritual abuse offered by men such as the late Rev. Jerry Falwell who said, “I listen to feminists and all these radical gals. Most of them are failures. They’ve blown it. These women just need a man in the house. That’s all they need. Most of the feminists need a man to tell them what time of day it is and to lead them home.”
Thank God for women who persist - women such as Jane Addams, founder of Settlement House Movement.
She persisted and became the first American woman to earn a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 as president of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Persistent women such as Elizabeth Blackwell, a women’s rights activist and the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S.; Shirley Chisholm, who persisted and became the first African-American woman elected to Congress; Rosa Parks, who persisted and insisted on not giving up her seat on a bus because she was a black woman and was arrested in 1955; Sally Ride, who persisted and became in 1983 the first and youngest U.S. woman in space.
Thank God for women such as Elizabeth Warren, who show the young women of today that even when men do manage to shut you up and sit you down in ‘your place,’ it is a temporary set-back.
And it will change.
Warren came roaring back the next day, as I expect women who persist will continue to do for years to come.
They will not accept the warnings.
They will not accept the explanations.
And they will persist.
“It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men.”
— Susan B. Anthony