Alex Wong, Getty Images
Compared to the chaotic, interruption-rampant first debate, the perspective seemed to be that last night's vice presidental debate between Senator Kamala Harris and Mike Pence seemed like a relatively civil conversation. However, viewers were quick to notice how often and carelessly Pence interrupted Harris while she was talking—and how the California senator and historic vice president nominee was having none of it. When Pence cut into her time, Harris said calmly and clearly, "Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking," and continued to repeat similar assertions when interrupted throughout the night.
While this soundbite may seem like a small takeaway from a night of discussing various important matters such as climate change and police violence, many women are noting how monumental it was to see a woman—especially a woman of color—standing up for her right to speak on a national platform.
"Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking." Kamala Harris's response to Mike Pence has already inspired merchandise being sold online — variations of it have showed up on T-shirts, mugs, face masks and laptop decals. https://t.co/2EW0rSoiuB pic.twitter.com/VgbobGyOTn— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 8, 2020
During the debate, Emmy award-winning actress Uzo Aduba tweeted about Harris' "I'm speaking" phrase, writing, "I hope every little girl heard that."
“I’m speaking. I’M speaking.” I hope every little girl heard that. #VPDebate— Uzo Aduba (@UzoAduba) October 8, 2020
While Harris was in a unique role sitting on a national debate stage, her experience of being talked over by a man felt universal, as it happens to women everywhere, in classrooms, the workplace, relationships, and daily life. One Twitter user pointed to this shared experience, writing, "When Kamala said “IM SPEAKING” every single woman felt THAT."
See what more on Twitter were saying about the moment below.
"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
“MR VICE PRESIDENT IM SPEAKING, IM SPEAKING!!!”— Jessica Fyre💫✨ (@TheJessieWoo) October 8, 2020
Drag him Kamala!!!!!!#VPDebate
IM SPEAKING!!!! MEN LOVE TO SPEAK OVER WOMEN ALL THE DAMN TIME!!! KAMALA SAID NOT TODAY!!!— Marina Preciado (@oxminaox) October 8, 2020
“I’m speaking. IM SPEAKING” miss girl already getting him together I love it pic.twitter.com/D8mAuOgwQk— afro blm (@Iam_Afrodisiac) October 8, 2020
It's worth noting that Harris wasn't the only woman Pence continued to talk over during the debate. As moderator Susan Page repeatedly said "thank you" to wrap up the VP as his two minutes of uninterrupted time were up, he often ignored her, only talking louder to make his point.
Number of times Harris continued to speak after @SusanPage signaled ("Thank you" or "Senator Harris") that her time was up: 13.— Will Saletan (@saletan) October 8, 2020
Number of times Pence continued to speak after Page signaled ("Thank you" or "Vice President Pence") that his time was up: 45.https://t.co/sbZL8dlZcl
Harris' "I'm speaking" assertion has already inspired an array of merchandise—from T-shirts to mugs to face masks—online, and we are so here for it.