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Breaking the Legacy of Silence #30 Nevertheless, WE PERSIST | Kim D. Bailey

Kim D. Bailey,

My first husband’s mom, Ellen Lee, gave me some salient advice after her son smashed my heart into smithereens when I was the tender age of twenty.

She said, “You need the three P’s: Patience, Persistence, and Perseverance.”

Ellen was indeed a formidable woman who took no shit whatsoever from anyone, including her husband, two sons, and daughter. Her style was much more dignified than my own, which I must say, even now can be abrasive and in-your-face. Still, I learned to speak up for myself with more assertiveness, and I learned I was worthy to do so.

Ellen passed away a couple of years ago, and I miss her presence in this world. She left a legacy for my son—that we all deserve to be treated with respect—male or female, Christian, Jew, Muslim, black, white, Latino, gay, straight or otherwise.

This week we have witnessed how the entrenched patriarchal establishment, and republicans, have tried to strong-arm their way against some women with intelligence and clear voices.

Unless you’ve shunned news altogether, it’s hard to remain unaware of how Senator Mitch McConnell essentially shut down Senator Elizabeth Warren when he forced her to stop speaking from the Senate floor late Tuesday when she spoke in opposition of Senator Jeff Sessions.

Of course, the old white guys tried to justify their rebuke of Warren by invoking Rule 19 when Senator Warren tried to read a letter that Coretta Scott King wrote over 30 years ago, criticizing the Alabama senator’s record on race when he was being considered for a federal judgeship in 1986.

Warren was not permitted to speak on the senate floor until Sessions was confirmed as attorney general by a 52-47 vote. Thus, effectively “silenced,” Warren was slapped down with a rarely used and esoteric rule dating back to a senate incident in 1902, and McConnell and his cronies got their “man” in.

Even more infuriating, Senator Warren’s male colleagues were permitted to read that same letter by Mrs. King later. Yes, they did so as a show of support for Senator Warren, but the fact they—the men—were permitted to read it, and only after Sessions was confirmed, is a blatant reminder we have a lot of work to do as women and men for the cause of equal rights, feminism, and equal respect across the board for women in a man’s world.

There is nothing that pisses me off more than when someone shushes me. It can be over something trivial and I’m ready to go ten rounds.

Yeah. Sometimes my voice gets loud. It carries. I get excited or laugh too hard, or I get angry, and suddenly I’m being told I’m too loud. This does not happen often, but when it does, I see red.

Perhaps I’m a little sensitive.

Fuck you. No, I am not.

The fact is, being loud and pushy are not traits admired in women in our society. Our worth has been traditionally doled out per the patriarchal view of our behavior. Women are “to be seen and not heard.” Women are not supposed to speak up or out, or “really” enjoy sex, or be too independent, either.  Men want to feel they have control over us, so they have called the shots as to when and where our words, actions, and feelings are acceptable.

Well, too goddamn bad for those who can’t handle us the way we are.

McConnell fucked up. Royally. By telling Senator Warren to shut up, he has invoked the anger of millions of women across America. Not only are we angry that our country has chosen, by the electoral process and not the popular vote, mind you, to elect a sex abuser and narcissistic asshole who has lorded his power over women his entire life, to the office of the President, but we are incensed at Senator Warren’s treatment by the men on the senate floor.

And you know what? It’s only making us louder.

My late mother-in-law instilled in me a desire and an attitude to persist despite the circumstances. Coming from a long line of strong women has only supported that determination.

Here are some things I have persisted with:

  • After being molested at age 11, I sought therapy and faced my abuser, and I took back the power that person stole from me when I was a child. I told my story, and I continue to be a voice for others who have been sexually abused.
  • I’ve failed at all my marriages, and I have lost everything I’ve had—including my family and children. However, I have persisted in the expectation that my children treat me with respect as their mother. While a couple do, and a couple don’t, they know where I stand.
  • When my latest spouse decided to change the rules of the game (hmmmm, eerily similar to invoking Rule 19 on the Senate floor when one doesn’t like what he hears and sees from a strong woman who is right), I persisted on being treated with respect by him and his family. When he refused to have my back, and even tried to silence me and censor my writing, I packed my shit and left.
  • When I moved out of my ex’s home, he pulled a lot of passive aggressive moves to make my life more difficult. Nevertheless, I have persisted in taking care of myself and my business to the best of my ability and asking for help from those people I trust when I absolutely need it.
  • Being newly single, there have been some inappropriate advances and comments made toward me by some clueless men who think they can stake some kind of claim or plant a flag. When in fact, no one owns me. No one has a right to me. No one gets anything from me unless I give it freely, and when I do, I am still the same independent woman who will not be quieted, tethered, shushed, shamed, abased, disrespected, or demeaned.
  • I’m going to write what I want to write, when I want to write it, and if someone doesn’t care for it, then that’s their problem. No one is going to tell me what to say—or not say—anymore. I will write about sexual abuse and assault, eating disorders, alcoholism, domestic violence, suicide, ungrateful kids, horrible parents, patriarchy, the “Stepford Wives” syndrome in our country, military biases against women, rape culture, crooked politicians (isn’t that an oxymoron?), gay, lesbian, bisexual, non-binary, transgender, pansexual, and polyamorous rights and lifestyles, the environment (stupid), how Betsy DeVos is the worst possible choice for Secretary of Education, fascist regimes and how we tend to repeat history, religious preferences and freedoms, Equal Rights, poverty, race…whatever I wish to write about, whether anyone reads it or not.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love men. Some men, anyway, to a degree.

Some of my favorite people are men. My sons, uncles, and male friends who treat me with respect are the epitome of strength, valor, kindness, love, and decency. They are the models all men should follow in how to treat women.

However, some men refuse to learn anything different than their limited, patriarchal, Neanderthal views. In their minds, if women are “permitted” to continue their “crazy, feminist agenda” then the world is doomed. What they don’t understand is, if they could see women more as equals, the bounty of give and take would come back to them a million times over.

A good deal of my female friends are feeling mighty feisty these days. We are losing patience with these archaic notions that the little women need the big men to speak and fight for us. We are tired of being told it’s wrong to have a loud voice or to be genuinely sexual and sentient beings. Women have used “sex” and “manipulation” for eons to get the advantages they’ve needed, but not to enjoy sex or to utilize the depth of their intelligence. Such a farce is no longer necessary. We can be as strong, opinionated, hard-working, vocal, forceful, and sexual as any man without losing our feminine essence. We bring our own unique gifts to the table, don’t we?

So, to all the haters out there who don’t like us, fuck you.

Fuck the patriarchy and their women who have no clue why they continue to serve, except they either know no better or are too afraid to do this life thing on their own if they rebel against the status quo.

Fuck Donald Trump and his entire cabinet, Kellyanne Conway, Ivanka, her stupid brother, Mitch McConnell, and all the republican sycophants who cannot voice an opinion that: a) does not advance their political career; and/or b) accepts that women are not only a majority in this country, but a woman won the popular vote for president in 2016 by nearly 3 million votes.

And, so we persist in asserting our place with men on this planet. When one of us is pushed down and silenced, the rest of us must rise to the occasion and say, “Oh, hell no.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, we got your back, girl. See you in 2020, and it will be our time to shine.


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About the Columnist:

Kim D. Bailey, a Pushcart Prize Nominee, writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, and a weekly column for FIVE:2:ONE. She is currently writing a third novel. She’s published in several online literary journals and print magazines. Kim lives in her hometown of Chattanooga, TN.  To connect follow at www.kimbaileydeal.net and on Twitter @kimbaileydeal