Gender Politics, In Politics? NO WAY! Earlier this week, Senator Wendy Davis of Texas stood up for women’s reproductive rights in her 11 hour filibuster to keep the 45 clinics open in Texas SB 5 would have banned abortions after the 20th week of a pregnancy. She spoke with authority and on such a controversial topic that it would only seem fitting that the 24 hour news networks would have paid Davis more media attention.
Here is an excerpt from Time Magazine:
(Photo by Bob Daemmrich/Corbis)
You might think that this kind of ticking-clock politics drama would be a magnet for cable news. TV news, after all, devoted considerable coverage when GOP Sen. Rand Paul held a rare one-man-speaking filibuster on the floor of the Senate earlier this year. There was a deadline, an explosive social issue, some charged gender politics in the room. “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” demanded Sen.Leticia Van De Putte with roars from the crowd and rowdy protesters shaking the room with chants of “Let her speak! Let her speak!” Aaron Sorkin, could not have scripted it better, though he may have polished up the dialogue a bit.
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What was it about Rand Paul’s filibuster in the Senate that motioned for such an amplified voice in mainstream media? Many may remember Rand Paul and his filibuster against John Brennan’s appointment to the CIA. What was it about the filibustering process that made both Senators stop their filibusters? For Rand Paul, it was biological while for Wendy Davis it was a technicality. The longest Filibuster on record is that of Strom Thurmand who was allowed a short recess for a bathroom break in 1977. With this in mind, how does the filibustering process work?
There are a few key rules about filibustering, and the first of which is that the floor must be taken with no sitting or no leaning. Wendy Davis was penalized for this rule because another senator assisted her in adjusting her back brace. The other key rule about filibustering is staying on topic. According to the chamber, she went off topic twice by mentioning the budget of planned parenthood and mentioned a sonogram bill. In Filibustering after a representative has gotten three violations, as Sen. Davis received, she can no longer hold the floor.
These technicalities were not discussed in as great detail in the Rand Paul Filibuster in March of 2013. The standards appear to be different and the media coverage was different. However, the issue struck a chord with social media advocates and local organizers.
Twitter was tweeting #standwithwendy
“LET HER SPEAK” the crowd chanted as she left the floor
Her efforts were not in vain! Organizers and protesters chanted for the last 15 minutes and ran out the clock for that final vote.