By: Devin Santillan
“I am speaking.” Three words from Senator Kamala Harris that resonated deeply with women across the country regardless of political party. Three simple words that were not harsh, or cold, or out of line, but that have not often been said by women to men. There is a reality in many places in the world, including the United States, where women are often left unheard. It isn’t that women aren’t speaking. It isn’t that their voices are ignorant. It isn’t that they lack the eloquence. It is that they are often spoken over and ignored. Women are often labeled as emotional and irrational. I can hear the party line now, “What, are you on your period or something?” That notion is only elevated when women attempt to defend themselves. They are met with an exasperated, “Relax!” from their male counterpart. Has anyone ever actually relaxed in these types of situations? I doubt it.
These types of things don’t just occur in the business world or political world. For women, they happen in everyday life. They happen at the grocery store, the gas station, walking the dog, walking to the car, and surprise- the church. The idea of women being seen and not heard is still alive and well. There are men who think telling a woman that they should appear more happy, “Let me see a smile, honey”, are actually being kind and not degrading. I once had a gas station clerk refuse to sell me a pack of gum until I “gave him a smile.” It was humiliating and disgusting and became a memory I will never forget. I wish in that moment I had the courage Kamala Harris did to say, “just give me the gum.” I know that I would have been labeled as irrational and emotional if I had. I wish I hadn’t cared.
I recently was watching a youtube video where a woman was describing this same feeling. She said she finds herself often wishing her husband was standing next to her during those times, not to stick up for her or defend her, but to deter them from happening in the first place. She made an interesting observation. She said that men will often respect that other men have “property” before they respect her. What does that mean? It means that if a man sees another man with his partner then he will often leave her alone, out of “respect.” You know, “bro code,” but if that same man were to see that same woman alone a different story may unfold.
Unfortunately, not everyone was as touched by Senator Harris as I was. Of course, the tweets started flooding in. “She is scary!” “Can’t she control her face?” “How disrespectful can you be to roll your eyes at the Vice President?” And the narrative of the irrational woman began to arise. How? How can one of the calmest speakers I’ve witnessed during a debate inflate this false narrative again? Those three words. “I am speaking.”
Regardless of your political opinion, if you are a woman I pray you will have the strength, the poise, and the courage to speak up and let the world know you are speaking.
Meet the author:
My name is Devin Santillan. I am 31 years old. I have been married for 7 years now and I have two sons, 5 years old and 2 1/2. I am a third grade teacher and am now in my 10th year of teaching. I am from Galveston, Texas, but have lived in Arizona since 2014. My faith caught fire through realTALK when it originated as a college ministry in East Texas.