Active users of popular social media platforms will have bore witness to the trending hashtag, #ShePersisted over the last few days. The hashtag is dubbed to be just the most recent feminist rally cry following an incident where Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by a Republican majority Senate on Feb. 9.
Senator Warren read a letter written by Coretta Scott King during the confirmation hearing for Jeff Sessions. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, rebuked Warren’s statement and found her in violation of “Rule 19” which bars any senator from impugning the motives of any other or imputing “any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming of a senator,” according to an article in the Globe and Mail. You can watch the incident take place below.
While Senator Warren may well have been in violation of the decorum rule, it is difficult to deny that the GOP Majority Senate was being selective in who they were enforcing the rule upon as the Senate’s historian’s office was unable to say when the rule was last invoked. Even more troubling is that male senators were later reading from the same speech by Mrs. King without interference from opposing party members.
The incident begs the question: are female politicians respected in positions of power when they threaten the interests of the opposition? In this case, absolutely not.
If a male senator can read from Mrs. King’s letter without being in violation of “proper decorum”, but a female senator cannot, the issue becomes less about the content of the message and more about who it’s coming from. It also questions if the words of Mrs. King are taken more seriously when spoken by a man.
The silencing of Senator Warren has since resulted in an outpouring of Democratic support.
“She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” It’s doubtful that Senator McConnell would have imagined that it would be these eight words that would give rise to silenced voices everywhere and create an even stronger movement of even more persistent women.