She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
– A small, scared man named Mitch
Senator Elizabeth Warren was not the first like her to stand where she stood, she was simply the latest.
She was yet another in the near infinite chain of strong, intelligent, capable women, having to shout to be heard above the hissing, frantic noise of insecure men in her midst, all desperate to silence her. She was both making history and yet sadly repeating it.
Yes, she was doing something heroic, something extraordinary and yet unremarkable too, as billions of women make such defiant stands each day. They may not do it in the blinding glare of the entire watching world, but their courage is no less breathtaking, their resilience no less planet-altering. It happens in the unadorned beauty of their ordinary days, without fanfare or bombast or applause. It happens in the quiet and the laborious and the unremarkable. It happens in cubicles and classrooms and churches and board rooms: women persisting—and gloriously so.
Most of them will never be trending or have their signal boosted by the world or be known by name, but their lives are sending powerful seismic ripples into the world in these very moments, and as the father of a young daughter just beginning to discover who she is and who she can be—I am grateful.
Thankfully, my life has been filled with women who have persisted despite warning and explanation; leaders and pastors and friends and co-workers who chose to define themselves, rather than be defined by the media or the world or a chorus of small, scared men not unlike those cowards who badgered Senator Warren. These women have taught me and challenged me and shaped me—and one of the most persistent of them, raised me. I have had the great blessing to be married to a beautifully persisting woman for the past two decades. This front row seat to such courage has made me a better human being, I’m sure of it.
The irony of a woman being silenced by men while speaking the words of another woman ( and one of color) was thick in that room—especially given the staggering misogyny of our new President and the fact that the majority of Americans had chosen a woman named Hillary over him to lead us in these days. I grieved over the nation we could be working toward and the lessons my daughter could be learning, while being reminded that women have been pushing back and pulling us forward for a long time now—and they haven’t needed permission or blessing. Maybe that is the real lesson.
Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, Emily Dickinson, Hellen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Katharine Hepburn, Frida Kahlo, Billie Holiday, Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Bree Newsome, Malala Yousafzai, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sally Yates… The glorious parade of persistence marches on.
They persist in marriages where their true voices are not yet fully embraced.
They persist in dusty churches still reluctant to make space for their gifts.
They persist in workplaces still overpopulated by men threatened by their presence.
They persist in places on the planet where they are seen and treated as less-than.
They persist despite a million reasons not to, after being given a warning and an explanation—and knowing these things are not good enough reason to stop.
After watching Elizabeth Warren make her brave stand on the floor of the Senate, I walked into my daughter’s room and looked at her engulfed in a swirling pile of blankets and stuffed animals. I pushed her hair back from her face and smiled. I pray that she will grow to be such a woman; a woman who will not be shouted down or tamed or defined by anyone. I pray that she will find her voice and that she will use it in whatever way her furiously wild heart compels her too.
And I know that when she does, she too will face the cowards and the bullies and the choruses of insecure men (and sometimes even a voice inside her head) telling her she needs to be quiet and sit down and not cause trouble.
And I hope when that happens, she will stand defiantly undeterred and with dignity; warning and explanation be damned—and she will persist.