“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
This phrase, meant to serve as an explanation for a little-known rule in the US Senate, has been seized by women across the nation as a feminist rally cry for 2017.
On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren gave a speech criticizing Donald Trump’s attorney general nomination, Sen. Jeff Sessions. In the middle of this speech, she was cut off by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to McConnell, Warren’s negative talk of a fellow senator was a violation of senate rules, and therefore she had no ground to speak any further.
“Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech,” he said. “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
This had the opposite effect of what the Republican senators were hoping for. Rather than silencing Warren from speaking out, McConnell’s comment sparked a fire on the internet of women all around the world coming to Warren’s aid and speaking out about their own experiences.
What began as a simple phrase turned into an internet hashtag. People were using #NeverthelessShePresisted and #LetLizSpeak to show support for the senator and to share their empathy for her circumstances.
Nearly every woman in America has experienced a man trying to dull her voice. Whether it is a boss who won’t take advice from a girl, an abusive spouse or boyfriend, a coworker or even just the guy in class who always feels the need to talk over everyone. Women’s opinions have a history of not being taken as seriously as men’s, and women everywhere have felt the same message directed at Warren: Sit down, shut up and behave.
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” This was celebrated on social media this week, with people including #NeverthelessShePersisted with pictures of women throughout history who made powerful impacts despite attempts to shut them down. Women who broke the rules for the sake of the greater good were celebrated to their fullest.
Warren may have broken a senate rule, but the way her situation was handled says a lot about women who dare to speak the truth are treated. Women like Elizabeth Warren are the ones who should be inspiring us to speak out and fight a system that is trying to silence our voices. Warren’s situation is a metaphor for all women: we won’t let you defy us. We will try to keep you silent. But, in attempting to keep women quiet in this climate, they are acknowledging the truth. Women have a limitless power to change the world, and they keep us silent to stop that change.The message is clear: In order for real change to happen in the world, women must speak out against injustices, even if it is against the norm, and especially if their voices are trying to be silenced.