Rep. Maxine Waters energized attendees of the Women’s Convention in Detroit, addressing everything from rape culture to President Donald Trump, who she pointed to as part of the country’s sexual harassment problem.
“This president has no respect for women,” Waters said.
Waters, a California Democrat, was the keynote speaker at the Women’s Convention that took place from Oct. 27-29. Waters spoke on Saturday during a Sojourner Truth Luncheon in her honor. The theme of the weekend was “Reclaiming Our Time” and Waters encouraged attendees to do just that.
“We are sick and tired of women being undermined, being dismissed Black women in particular,” Rep. Maxine Waters said.
“Donald Trump is the most dishonorable and despicable human being to ever serve in the office of the president,” she said.
Waters called the president “a man with no good values, no good intentions and no good respect.”
“That’s why I know we must keep fighting, and that women must lead this resistance. We cannot afford to be shut down or shut up by any man, particularly not one as indecent and deplorable as Donald Trump.”
The event, which boasted about 4,000 attendees, was put together by the same women who organized the Women’s March in January following Trump’s inauguration.
#WhyIMarch: Women’s March announced the list of speakers including Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem and Mothers of the Movement. Performers scheduled include Janelle Mone and Maxwell.
Trump’s behavior and remarks past and present perpetuate a culture of sexual harassment and assault, according to Waters.
“His own history with sexual assault violations and disrespect of women sends a message to men and young boys that if the President of the United States can get away with it, so can I,” she said.
Waters also said that it is up to women to lead the resistance against Trump and that women must stick together.
“This convention must be designed as a declaration that women are unified,” she told the crowd. “The women at this convention and all across the country have had enough. Enough is enough. We’re not gonna take it anymore!”
While allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have largely fueled the national attention on sexual harassment and assault, Waters emphasized that this problem is not limited to the entertainment world.
“It’s also members of Congress like my colleagues Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Congresswoman Gwen Moore, and other politicians, teachers, nurses, women in the military and so many others who may have lived in shame or fear, but have now boldly come forward with their own ‘me too’ stories and exposed just how prevalent rape culture is in our society,” she said, urging women to continue sharing their stories and declaring #MeToo.
She called for a message that “women are unified and that we support one another in this fight, whether you’re black, white, brown, yellow, rich or poor.”
“Today we declare that we will not tolerate, ignore or be a part of a culture that turns a blind eye to sexual harassment,” she said. “We don’t care who you are, how much money you have, how powerful you are Keep your hands off our backs and our goddamn bodies!”
Waters ended her speech by leading a chant of “Impeach 45!”
“We have to fight harder than we’ve ever fought before,” Jalila Bell, a women’s march attendee, told DiversityInc.
Waters was not the only notable speaker at the event. Senators and other congresswomen also participated, as well as actress Rose McGowan.
McGowan spoke on Friday her first public remarks since accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment.
“I have been silenced for 20 years,” McGowan said. “I have been slut-shamed. I have been harassed.”
But enough is enough, McGowan said.
“No more will we be shunted to the side, no more will we be hurt,” she told the crowd. “It’s time to be brave in the face of unspeakable actions.”
“I discovered that it had nothing to do with right and wrong and everything to do with money and power,” former Weinstein assistant Zelda Perkins said.
The event’s “Reclaiming Our Time” theme was inspired by Waters. In July during a meeting of the House Services Financial Committee Waters questioned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about Trump’s financial connections to Russia. Mnuchin attempted to avoid answering, instead giving Waters compliments in an apparent attempt to let the clock run out on the question.
“Reclaiming my time,” Waters said. She repeated the refrain over and over.
The phrase comes right from “Floor Procedure In The U.S. House Of Representatives.” According to the rules:
“If a Member would like to ask a question of another Member who is speaking or make a comment, he or she should address the Chair and say: ‘Mr. Chairman (or Madam Chairman), will the gentleman from California yield to me’ If the gentleman wishes to yield, he may do so at his discretion and must remain standing while the other Member speaks. The gentleman who has yielded may at any time ‘reclaim’ his time and then the other Member must stop speaking and allow him to continue. A Member to whom time has been yielded cannot yield time to another Member unless he or she is the Member controlling his or her side’s debate time.”