Menu

Women and mothers everywhere have one message: I'm speaking

Senator Harris showed the world that women are done being interrupted.

kamala harris debate

The first and only Vice Presidential Debate was last night, and there were a lot of memorable moments (ahem, #fly).

But perhaps the most significant for women, regardless of where our political affinities lie, was the sheer number of times that Vice President Mike Pence interrupted Senator Kamala Harris. "I'm speaking," she said politely, yet firmly. "I'm speaking." Over and over again. The interruptions were relentless.

Last night, we witnessed in real-time how women have been talked over and minimized for decades by mansplainers and men in general.


Unfortunately, no woman watching was surprised—being talked through and over is a part of our daily lives. To be a woman is to be constantly subverted, belittled and hushed by men. Our authority questioned, our ideas devalued.

FEATURED VIDEO

It happens all the time.

The realtor who interrupted my sentence to tell me "something he just thought of." His thought was clearly more important than mine.

The family member who dismissed my well-researched explanation with a casual, "Yeah, maybe." His opinion was clearly more valid than mine.

The plumber who looked past me to talk to my husband. My husband is clearly more equipped to talk about piping than I.

The man who, moments before I walked onto the stage to give a TEDx talk, said, "Vavavoom!" (I was wearing a jumper), "Are you going to tell sex jokes?" he asked. Yes, because clearly that's what women do when they give TED Talks.

My midwifery client's partner who, midway through his girlfriend's push, asked me if I could get him some water because this was really hard for him. (I don't even have a quip for this one.)

Men interrupt, cut off and attempt to supersede women all. the. time.

The thing is, I don't think that many men even realize they're doing it. Interrupting has become such an ingrained part of acceptable behavior that even good, decent men who try to respect women do it. And that represents a huge problem.

At its core, interrupting someone means that we believe that what we have to say is more important than what the other person is saying. That men constantly interrupt women therefore means that men think their voices are more important than women's. Our society has done nothing to combat this behavior. From the gender pay gap to the deficiency of attention paid to women's health to the total lack of regard and support for mothers, we are regularly bombarded with a very clear message: Men are more important than women.

Last night, this notion was center stage. Vice President Pence repeatedly interrupted and talked over not only Senator Harris, but debate moderator Susan Page. He made it abundantly clear that his words were above theirs—above the rules of the debate, even.

(Speaking of Page, did you notice that every time she tried to reign the conversation back in she apologized? "I'm sorry, Mr. Vice President, your time is up." She felt the need to say she was sorry for doing the job she was hired to do.)

Should Senator Harris or Page have behaved as Pence did, the morning's headlines would be full of slams accusing them of being unstrained, too emotional and unhinged. But a man did it, so instead, we just roll our eyes and get on with our day—or do we?

Senator Harris made major strides in the current groundswell of women's empowerment we are experiencing. She stood up for herself in public. She (calmly, because of course) demanded that she be given equal mic time. She inspired a new rallying cry for women across the world who are fed up with being told and shown that they are less-than.

"I'm speaking." She said. And we heard her, loud and clear.

Let us not lose the momentum Senator Harris created last night.

Men, please pay attention to how you use your voice when a woman is speaking. You may not have created the culture that has allowed this to happen, but every time you cut a woman off, you perpetuate it and benefit from it. Check yourself, and check other men too—the next time you hear another man interrupt a woman, say, "She was speaking."

Women, and everyone of any gender who has had their voice oppressed, quieted and devalued, stand your ground.

I'm speaking.

You are important.

I'm speaking.

Your words and thoughts are valuable.

I'm speaking.

You are worthy of equal mic time.

I'm speaking.

And come November 3rd, vote.

We're speaking.

In This Article

    You will always be their safe space, mama

    You are their haven. Their harbor. Their sanctuary, their peace. You are comfort. Deep breaths. Hugs and back rubs. You're a resting place, a nightmare chaser, a healer. You are the calm within their storm. You are their mother.

    To your child, you are safety. You are security. You are where (out of anyone or any place), they can come undone. Where they can let it all out, let it all go. Where they meltdown, break down, scream, cry, push.

    Where they can say—"I AM NOT OKAY!"

    Where they can totally lose it. Without judgment or fear or shame.

    Because they know you'll listen. They know you'll hear them. That you will help piece the mess back together.

    Keep reading Show less
    Life

    10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

    You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

    Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

    As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

    Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

    Keep reading Show less
    Life

    In a recent survey shared in the Reproductive Health journal, one out of six women in the United States reported being mistreated while in labor, where mistreatment included, "loss of autonomy; being shouted at, scolded, or threatened; and being ignored, refused, or receiving no response to requests for help."

    One out of six.

    To make these numbers even more sickening, mistreatment was more common among women of color, women with partners of color, women with lower socioeconomic status, and women under the age of 30.

    (And yet people still question the validity of stating that black mothers are at a higher risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications.)

    FEATURED VIDEO

    Rarely at a loss for words, I find myself almost unable to speak.

    I am a midwife, and I am disgusted.

    Keep reading Show less
    News