“Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”
It was the sentence heard around the world. Well, mostly in the United States and Canada.
During the Oct. 7 United States presidential debate, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, had to repeat the phrase at least four times during the 90-minute debate while she was answering questions because she was interrupted by Vice President Mike Pence.
While Pence didn’t reach the number of times President Donald Trump interrupted Biden during their debate, Pence spoke over Harris during almost all of her answers and ignored moderator Susan Page’s polite reminders to stop talking when it wasn't his turn.
Harris’ ‘I’m speaking’ comment started trending on social media by the end of the debate and almost immediately became a meme.
It was a reminder for me that so many adults forget the ‘wait to talk until it’s your turn’ lesson we’re taught as children.
The fact that Harris’ words resonated with so many people, particularly women, wasn’t a surprise to me either. We’re used to being talked over, interrupted, and disbelieved.
I can remember a number of occasions where I stopped talking because someone decided their voice or opinion was much more important to be heard than mine. They thought what I was saying was wrong and they couldn’t wait to interrupt me to correct me.
What I’ve noticed is in these situations are that women tending to stop talking, in order to listen and not to be rude. Even though the assumption is that they would be allowed to finish their thought, the conversation usually continues without their thought being able to be completed.
Let me tell you, it makes me laugh when I think of the times I directed the conversation back so I could finish my thought, or watched other women do the same thing. We demand to be heard, no matter what the situation is.
When I watched the vice presidential debate, it got me thinking about these situations, and others I’ve seen, where the women accept it and move on. Some may have allowed Pence to interrupt them and not called him out for it, others would have done what Harris did. I don’t see either as wrong, but instead, focus on what I think is the solution to this.
The first one is that women need to be taught that their voices and opinions are important and should be heard. We shouldn’t ever feel like we’re being silenced, especially during a vice presidential debate.
The second is that men need to be taught to wait their turn to speak. Sometimes it’s even better not to say anything at all, especially when you aren’t asked to share your opinion.
At the end of the day though, we all need to remember the lesson we’re taught as kids to wait our turn and not to interrupt one another. It’s rude and doesn’t paint anyone in a good light.