On February 7th 2017, during a debate over attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren during her reading of a letter written by Coretta Scott King from 1986, in which Scott King criticizes Sessions for his then nomination to become a federal judge.
Evoking Rule 19 of the Senate, McConnell later said in defense of his actions:
“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."
"Nevertheless, she persisted" became a feminist mantra instantaneously, ushering forth a slew of trending hashtags like #ShePersisted and #LetLizSpeak on the twittersphere. Warren's experience captured what one twitter user aptly acknowledged as a common experience among women:
Women, all women - women of color, trans women, gay women, women of all nations and creeds of life, have historically been marginalized when it comes to having our voices heard. Whether we're talking about the incredible gap of written or recorded contributions women have made to history, science & culture in textbooks and classrooms, or to present day women still having to fight to have their voices be valued and respected in professional offices, courtrooms, or the Senate floor, the fact of the matter is that silencing a woman who is being too loud, talking too much, or being too unruly, is indeed not a phenomenon.
What is a phenomenon, however, are the women who nevertheless, persist, and ultimately, make themselves heard, seen, felt, and known.
Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg persisting in her legal career as a young married woman with a five year old daughter, fighting her way against misogyny and racism as a Jewish woman in a male dominated profession, to ultimately become a highly respected Supreme Court Justice.
And bell hooks, sharing her struggle to devote herself to her craft, self-love, and radical political consciousness as a black woman in a society that historically devalues women of color, in her beautifully written memoir Wounds of Passion.
Or Eleanor Roosevelt, who leveraged her platform as First Lady to clearly and frequently speak her mind on issues concerning race and civil rights, even when they were in opposition to position her husband or his cabinet held.
The spirit behind the statement nevertheless, she persisted is that it simultaneously acknowledges a shared experience of being silenced and having to fight to have our voices heard, while also acknowledging the rebellious persistence to continue to fight to be heard, to be seen, to be felt, to be known, nonetheless, in spite of whatever obstacles and obfuscations stand in the way.
In anticipation of National Women's History month, this week's theme honors this powerful mantra and all it encompasses and celebrates. So keep visiting for book reviews & recommendations, recipes, musings, and more from me.
And in the meantime, keep persisting, in whatever it is you do.