Nevertheless, She Persisted

scolds-bridleThis morning I opened my eyes to the news that the US Senate, invoking an obscure rule, shut down Senator Elizabeth Warren while she was reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King. And by shut down, I mean shut up. Along party lines, the Senate voted to officially take away her voice.

In a system meant for debate, while considering whether a nominated candidate was qualified to hold one of the highest posts in the country, a place in which she is among (supposed) equals, they took away her voice. They took the power of her dissent.

Using an arcane rule from a dusty handbook, they scolded her.

Yet another woman who spoke out was told to shut the hell up.

It was an ‘official’ way to attempt to humiliate a strong-minded woman who stood up to question the experience of a man. A rule which has been used a handful of times despite many instances of contention and debate.

There’s nothing new in this. Outspoken women have always been shut up in one way or another, it is only the means which have changed over the centuries. In medieval times, a common ‘scold’ was sentenced to a turn on the ducking-stool, where she was tied and dunked into cold water–often times repeatedly. Think of it as a precursor to waterboarding. Women who dabbled in midwifery and herbs were branded witches, and burned or hanged to the delight of the madding crowds. Women like Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote of equality, had their work overshadowed by the salacious details of their personal lives, in Wollstonecraft’s case, posthumously. Women who demanded the vote were bludgeoned with clubs, beaten, and arrested, force-fed.

The lesson? Outspoken women are dangerous. They must be cured, humiliated, silenced.scold

Delve into the history books. Women are there—-behind the curtains and in between the lines. Hidden figures. Precious few garner the bold-faced caption headings reserved for men.

That’s what happens when you shut women up.

They have been trying to silence women for centuries, and yet we keep rising up from the ashes of those witch pyres to continue the fight. Every obstacle, every form of torture, every death penalty, every stoning, every cutting, every restrictive law, every arcane Senate rule they have used against us, women have never given up. Women keep pushing forward.

Those ‘witches’? They’re responsible for women’s right to vote, to own and sell property, to have a bank account, to choose what to do with our bodies, to obtain birth control. Those witches? They’re responsible for exposing pay gaps and the prevalence of rape and domestic violence, for pushing for better health care and for family leave. Those witches are responsible for making sure your husband can’t rape you and get away with it.

Up until not that long ago, women were, quite literally, property. Like household goods and sacks of flour. So call women what you like, witches, bitches, demons, fem-i-nazis. Women have been bearing the weight of those labels for all of time. We carry them on our heads and our backs. And still we fight.

womens-marchElizabeth Warren. Hillary Clinton. Lucretia Mott. Coretta Scott King. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cecile Richards, Tammi Duckworth, Elizabeth Stanton, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ruby Bridges, Virginia Wolf, Frida Khalo, Rosa Parks. The list goes on. They all have one thing in common, something that many of us who are born girls seem to be born knowing:

You can try to shut women up all you want, but you will never, ever shut us down.


13 Women Who Persisted

18 Comments Add yours

  1. Elyse says:

    Damn you’re good!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Lol, thanks. Easy when it comes from the heart right? I’m good at rousing rhetoric 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey, well behaved women rarely make history. I wonder how many names will be popping up in the history books from this time period. What will the generation fifty years from now remember–lots of women’s names where there were few before, because of the desire and determination to speak up? Yeah, I bet Liz Warren’s will be up at the top of the list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Wouldn’t that be something. She is a force. I’d like to see her untethered.


  3. Wonderful, gorgeous, TRUE.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      Keep preaching, Alicia. Even if only one person listens, it’s worth it.


  4. busyk says:

    Thank you so much for breaking this down. Solid rhetoric, indeed!


    1. Dina Honour says:

      It’s all I seem to be able to process, think about, or write about these days–it has impacted every nook and cranny of this woman’s work. Which is both good…..and bad.


  5. Alice says:

    Did you catch the detail from the next morning? Sherrod Brown outta Ohio read the Coretta Scott King letter into the Senate record in its entirety — no censure, no scolding.

    No shame.

    [I really have to start severely limiting my news intake. I am starting to include Republican leadership in my fantasy life where I can (and do!) murder a man with my bare hands and a heavily-swung 2×4 — a dubious honor generally reserved for my father and no one else. And srsly not great for my mental health!!]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      I’m gearing up for a news detox myself. It’s impacting every aspect of my life at the moment, including my non-angry creative output, which as much as I appreciate the rage-fueled blog rant, is not how I want to spend the next twenty years of my creative life. My problem is that I feel like if I turn away, it’s the first step to normalization. Life goes back to normal, you rationalize the small stuff, and before you know it, you’re buried under an avalanche of small shit.

      This was, no doubt, a ‘message’ for the woman in the room. We’ve still got a long way to go, baby. A hell of a long way to go.

      I’ve been having sci-fi fantasies involving targeted meteor strikes. The other day I saw that a meteor had broken up over Wisconsin, I was distraught, my geography was way off…until my sister reminded me that Paul Ryan hails from the great state of WI….maybe I wasn’t as far off in my celestial witch conjuring as I thought….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alice says:

        Given that my life hasn’t had a “normal” to return to in at least 5 years, my struggle is a little different. I NEED to find normal — or at least, y’know, a job with which to pay my bills — and this unending series of outer calamities is making my already-hard-to-focus-on tasks even harder.

        Keep it up with the conjured disasters, tho! Erry little bit o’ resistance helps…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Jodecouvre says:

    Yeah, the shear number of stories like this in the news is exhausting. Everyday there’s a new example of sexism, corruption or bigotry in this weeks old “government”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dina Honour says:

      But it’s all in our heads–just waiting to be mansplained away no doubt. Oh, and we don’t know how good we have it….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It is sad to see our senate acting like a bunch of children. “We dont want to hear what you have to say so we are going to make you leave.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dina Honour says:

      It was a bit shocking, especially as later 4 different men read the letter and had it put into the record. I don’t mind the lively debate, I think it’s healthy. What I mind is the blatant attempt to silence the opposition–and even more so when that opposition is female.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. openheartedwoman says:

    Reblogged this on Open Hearted Life and commented:
    And this ladies and gentlemen is what needs fixing!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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