Today I was proud to be a woman and proud to be from the South that stood for equality and respect for all people. In the last year, women have found their voices and consistently stood against men who abuse and disrespect them. The country is speaking in many ways on respect: respect for women, respect for standards of decency, respect for those brave enough to say #MeToo. The country also said loudly, if you hold repulsive attitudes toward raping a woman or child you will not be elected by either party. We said, if you think it is funny to touch a woman’s breast without permission or sexually harass her at work or shame her in public we will stand up and stand together. We will use our voice to support those that feel threatened and harassed. We will push you out of your office, your job, and if necessary respectable society.
Respect for all people now requires that we make important decisions and I hope all the passion that went into the election goes into fixing our problems with how we treat women in the workplace. We voted to end sexism but now comes responsibility. We need to work for equal pay. Women that are not financially dependent on men find it easier to stand up and say no more. We must work to reduce violence and ensure that men and women understand what it means to rape and be raped – it is never legitimate. Sexual harassment is never acceptable, but we must define what it means. If you want to reduce sexual harassment you must know that not all people share the same cultural views on hugs or a kiss on the cheek or even a handshake. We must learn cultural sensitivity and expect it. We need to clearly define what is acceptable and unacceptable – it begins with you.
I also believe we need to have a serious discussion about abortion. We cannot let a pedophile almost win a national office because abortion is a litmus test for Democrats and Republicans alike. We need to find a common ground where we all agree that we should work to reduce abortion and explore all the ways to do so. Pro-choice and pro-life should be welcome in both parties if we are to solve this problem.
I love this country and I have always been proud to be from the South and have always believed that Southerns are more patriotic and love the country more than most. Democracy is amazing and especially so when people put aside party loyalty and vote their conscience as did the people of Alabama. We should tip our hats to Republicans today. They put country before party. Thank you Alabama for showing we change the world through our votes and through the exercise of conscience.