By now, most of you know that Elizabeth Warren was silenced when she tried to read a letter, Coretta Scott King’s letter about Jeff Sessions during his appointment hearing. Mitch McConnell was later quoted as saying “she was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
After McConnell said the above quote, the internet was lit on fire with “Nevertheless, she persisted” images and quotes flying around. Women around the web figured out a way to take a sexist quieting of a woman and turned it into a rallying cry for feminism.
— Duck Girl (@seekono78) February 9, 2017
As women, persistence is everything. We need to hear more stories, opinions, and experiences from other women. I don’t know if my experience will inspire others, or if anyone will find it all that particularly interesting, but I will persist in speaking up. The more voices we can add, the stronger we all are together.
Where to Start
Like every story, there’s a beginning. I have always been opinionated, but for the most part, I kept those opinions to myself. If things got too heated, I would back off in fear of not being liked. I think that is a feeling many women have. In exchange for not being called a bitch, we stay quiet with our wants, needs, opinions, and desires.
However, in June, after the Pulse shooting, I was angry. I couldn’t stay quiet anymore about the things I believed in. So I started speaking up, softly at first, and, as I learned how to use my voice, more powerfully. I campaigned for Clinton, both formally when I had time through phone banks and data collection, and more informally by speaking up around family members and friends whose opinions differed from mine. I tried to tell my story on why I felt so passionately about the issues I cared about and why I was voting the way I did. My husband and I debated ourselves. We questioned each other’s motives and our tactics of getting our point across. It was too important not to speak up.
The more I spoke up, the more feedback I would get, good and bad. I got a lot of pushback, I mean A LOT (and I still do). Nevertheless, I persisted. I would be attacked by family members who claim to love me, and distant acquaintances I hadn’t seen in years who didn’t agree with my opinion felt the need to cut me down and try to silence me. People would spout off things to me like “Who do you think you are?” and “I have my opinion, and I don’t want you shoving your opinion down my throat” or “If you care so much, get off the internet and run for office or something. You aren’t changing anyone’s mind on here.” I was criticized for speaking up in ways my male counterparts just were not.
Oftentimes, I was on my own navigating the waters somewhat imperfectly as I spoke my truth and tried to persuade, without a rule book to lead my way. Sometimes I succeeded, but many more times than I succeeded, I failed. Nevertheless, I persisted.
Persist With Your Story
However, others reached out to me privately. They saw me speak up and called me brave. They assured me that uncle who berated me was using abusive language, they understood where I was coming from, and thanks for speaking up.
After a while, I got asked for advice on how other women could speak up too. It’s hard navigating the waters alone—not sure when you’re going to step into a minefield inadvertently. Hearing words of encouragement and knowing that others were listening and watching me made me feel like I wasn’t alone. These people who reached out and asked for help had no idea how much I needed them too. A private message from someone who just let me know “I hear you” helped me take on the next battle, or kept me from retreating back and not sharing my belief or my story. If I was going to have convictions, I was going to say them loud and proud.
That’s why it’s important that we keep speaking up and telling our stories. We need to keep persisting. There is strength in storytelling. Our stories let others know they’re not alone, that there’s someone else out there who thinks, feels, and acts like them. Have you every been embarrassed about something and then found out it was something a friend or even a stranger did too? Doesn’t it feel good not to feel alone?
So keep persisting. There are many people out there, both men and other women, who will want to silence you. They’ll tell you you’re not sharing your truth correctly. You’ll hear all types of excuses and reasons on how and why you are doing it wrong. You will be warned. You will get an explanation. Nevertheless, you should persist.