7 Women Who Used Being Silenced As A Platform

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Elizabeth Warren's silencing in the United States Senate Tuesday night came as a semi-shock to the country, but it didn't take long to realize the event was a familiar narrative. Throughout history, women who have tried to speak up against problematic social structures have frequently been silenced, but just like Warren has proven already, they are rarely stopped. These seven women used being silenced to give themselves an even greater voice, never letting the patriarchy get them down in their fight for equality.

These are just a few, relatively modern examples of women who fit this model, and by no means are they the only ones. In every fight against social oppression over the years, there have been women leading the charge with or without recognition. Some stories are more famous than others, and the legends that have endured encourage women every day. But it's the responsibility of this generation to highlight the ones that have been forgotten, too. In honoring these seven women, take some time to learn about others like them and diversify your role models. The more women reclaim the history that male-dominated society has tried to erase, the more all women will believe in their power to affect change.

Hillary Clinton

Every time Clinton was discounted as nothing more than a former First Lady, she continued to rise. She didn't stop pursuing her goal of making history until she accomplished it, and she forever changed the Democratic party in the process.

Anita Hill

Hill overcame the fear and stigma of sexual harassment to bring the issue to national attention during Justice Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the 1980s. She has spent the rest of her career advocating for women's rights, and says she would go through the whole painful process again to advocate for workplace equality.

Helen Keller

Keller's world could have been limited by her physical disability, but she never let it stop her from speaking against injustices of all kinds. She even helped co-found the ACLU and advocated for socialism as a way to achieve racial and gender equality.

Bell Hooks

Hooks' very existence as black woman was silenced, but she created some of the most enduring and powerful feminist literature of the 20th Century, including the revolutionary book Ain't I A Woman: black women and feminism.

Ashley Judd

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Judd was ripped apart in pop culture for allegedly getting plastic surgery, a vicious attack meant to undermine her femininity and silence her. But Judd did exactly the opposite and became actively and loudly involved in humanitarian work and protest movements around the world.

Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai survived a terrifying attack by Taliban terrorists who wanted to stop her advocacy for girls' education around the world. Their violence introduced the world to one of the most inspiring young women alive today, and gave her the fame she needed to take her message global.

Patsy Mink

This under-celebrated figure in women's history spent her entire life fighting against injustice and refusing to be silenced. In college at the University of Nebraska in the 1940s, she organized a coalition of university community members that successfully ended the school's segregation policies. Despite earning two bachelor's degrees in zoology and chemistry, Mink was rejected from medical schools, and decided to become a lawyer to fight against sexual discrimination. She served her home state of Hawaii in Congress for more than 20 years and was one of the primary sponsors of the groundbreaking Title IX legislation, which financially equalized men's and women's collegiate sports.