Today Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by the GOP because she began to read words that would impugn the character of our about-to-be Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. (They weren't her words, by the way, they were the words of Civil Rights icon, Coretta Scott King.) That reminds me of the time I got divorced. What do the two experiences have in common? I, too, was silenced by a group of men so that I could not impugn the character of another man--my husband. Did I mention that he happened to be the pastor of my church?
When I left him, I had no intention of retribution or burning bridges. I was so hurt by his years of rejection, I just wanted to crawl away somewhere and recover so that I could be a better mother to our four children. For years, I had considered a separation, had begged for us to go to marriage counseling. But as the pastor of a fundamental church, he was more concerned about "what it would look like" if his congregation knew his marriage was in trouble. And let's face it, he had told me on more than one occasion that the most important thing in his life was "his church." His church?
When his daily criticisms and sneering disdain had hammered me down to the point of being clinically depressed, a family friend took me aside and said this: "Honey, I know you pray for him. But you've been praying a long time. What if you pray for the next ten years and after all that time, he's still the same guy?" OK, Dean used a stronger word than "guy."
And he was right. 35 years later, my ex is still the same "guy." But I haven't been married to him for the past 34.
When I left, he wrote up a "position paper" on what to do about me. Yep. It's true. I read it. He had a conversation with the elders in the church and decided they all had to protect their wives from my "influence." (Because they thought, if the wives knew the truth, they'd all start packing their bags?) On a Sunday morning, he stood in front of his congregation and read his pseudo-official document which decreed that no woman in the church should speak to me--not in person, not by telephone, and if they saw me in the street they were to turn and walk away (which, by the way, some of the women did when I happened to see them while doing business in the same city).
Weeks later, after I'd moved fifty miles away, he issued another statement from his pulpit: That I'd had a "breakdown." That I'd "gone away" to try to "recover." That he was "working on his marriage." (Little did the people in "his church" know he'd already started dating one of the nice single ladies in the congregation, who called to ask me if I intended to come back--because, she said, his statement had confused her regarding their relationship.)
Bizarre? Yes. Is it unusual for men to attempt to silence women who speak out against them? Oh, absolutely not. Right now I'm thinking of the couple who used to live next door to me. The wife called the police on her husband one day because "he had his hands around my throat and he just kept squeezing." His side of the story (which he later told to me) was: "I wasn't trying to hurt her. I just wanted her to stop talking."
If you're still wondering why women poured out into the streets on the day of the March for Women across this country, those are a few more good reasons.
The Republican dominated senate--the male dominated senate--made Senator Warren stop talking today because they couldn't stand to hear her read the words of truth in Coretta Scott King's letter. Warren's response was: "They can shut me up, but they can't change the truth." Amen. In spirit, I'm holding your hand, sister, and I'm holding it high. The more we are silenced, the louder our voice becomes.