By Arré Bench Oct. 08, 2020
Through the vice-presidential debate, Kamala Harris said the words, “I am speaking” at least four times, as incumbent Vice President Mike Pence interrupted her. As she insisted that she’d like to finish what she was saying, Harris turned her into a darling of every woman who has been interrupted by a man at some point in their lives.
A week ago, the US presidential debate between president Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden ended in chaos, as the two men traded constant barbs — often while the other was speaking — leading Biden to at one point ask Trump to “shut up”. Last night, during the vice-presidential debate, incumbent Vice President Mike Pence tried to do something similar to his challenger Kamala Harris. But rather than allow her point to be derailed, Harris became an instant icon on social media, when she raised her hand, and said firmly, “Mr Vice-President, I am speaking.”
"Mr. Vice President, I am speaking," Sen. Kamala Harris says, hitting back at Mike Pence for trying to interrupt one of her answers about coronavirus. The moment comes in the wake of last week's chaotic Trump-Biden debate. https://t.co/GRQ0uU86Ov
— CNN (@CNN) October 8, 2020
The two candidates were discussing coronavirus at the time. Senator Harris was in the process of criticising the US administration’s failure in dealing with the pandemic, when Pence, who is in charge of the coronavirus task force, attempted to “weigh in”.
Once he was chastised by his opponent, however, he stayed quiet for the next 15 seconds while Harris finished her point. But that was far from the end of it.
Through the debate, Harris said the words, “I am speaking” at least four times, turning her into a darling of every woman who has been interrupted by a man at some point in their lives (ie, every single of them).
“He interrupted me, and I’d like to just finish, please,” Harris says, echoing almost every woman in every meeting. #VPDebate
— Patricia Zengerle (@ReutersZengerle) October 8, 2020
Young girls watching: you’re allowed to say “I’m speaking” when someone interrupts you. “I’m speaking” is a full sentence. And you can use it, even when they try to tell you to be silent. Keep talking.
— Jordyn Rowland (@RowlandJordyn) October 8, 2020
Soon the phrase began to trend on Twitter. Many hoped that the words would serve as an example for young women, who often have to deal with such interruptions by men, especially in professional settings.
“I’m speaking. I’M speaking.” I hope every little girl heard that. #VPDebate
— Uzo Aduba (@UzoAduba) October 8, 2020
"I'm speaking." This should be a 101 taught to all young girls. Nobody taught us this in the '80s.
— Elizabeth Hackett (@LizHackett) October 8, 2020
“I’m speaking, I’m speaking.”
– women everywhere, every day lol
— Maddy Skye (@MaddySkye) October 8, 2020
The phrase was so popular among women on the internet that, just minutes after the debate, it had started appearing on t-shirts, hoodies and mugs on online stores.
According to CBS news tally, Pence interrupted Harris twice as many times – 10 times as compared to Harris’s five. While Harris spoke about healthcare, the VP tried to interrupt her again. “He interrupted me, and I’d like to just finish, please,” the Democratc vice presidential nominee said when she was told her allotted time was ending.
"He interrupted me, and I'd like to just finish please," is a line every woman who has ever attended a meeting with men can relate to.
— Lissandra Villa (@LissandraVilla) October 8, 2020
Ignoring everything else that happened in #Debates2020 tonight, the fact that @KamalaHarris makes her voice heard and did not allow Mike Pence to interrupt her when speaking is HUGE. Young girls need to see examples like this and know they should be listened to!!
— Lilly Singh (@Lilly) October 8, 2020
Just going over it all in my head. The way Mike Pence constantly interrupted and spoke over @KamalaHarris was the prime example of white male supremacy and its common dismissal and disrespect for black woman.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 8, 2020
Compared to the presidential debate from last week, however, this debate was a lot calmer and the two vice presidential candidates were both much more polite than Trump and Biden. Over 90 minutes the candidates spoke about several topics, including coronavirus, the economy, foreign policy, race and police reform.
Before the debate, Kamala Harris was hailed for making history as the first Black and South Asian woman to participate in a general election debate. However, after it, she will probably be remembered more for her famous words: “I am speaking”.