FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., held a “Women’s Empowerment Roundtable” earlier in March, the video of which is now available online — and among the themes that emerged from the discussion are that freedom, independence and courage are needed more than ever today to stand up to troublesome issues in the culture.
Joining Sen. Blackburn were former D1 swimmer Riley Gaines from the University of Kentucky, who was forced to compete in college against a biological male; former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi; former Rep. Mayra Flores of Texas; president of the Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino; and former television anchor and journalist in Nashville, Stacy Case.
Sen. Blackburn told Fox News Digital exclusively about the forum, “I was pleased to have such strong and independent women join me to discuss the importance of empowering our next generation of female leaders. We must ensure all women have a seat at the table — not just those propped up by the mainstream media.”
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The panelists explained how and why they’ve felt the need to speak up — and why they remain determined about “not letting the Left get to” them, Sen. Blackburn said.
Former Rep. Flores said she was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. at age six — and today remains a proud American who is pursuing the American dream and standing strong for her family especially, she said.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. (top left) held a “Women’s Empowerment Roundtable” recently — and invited five women to share views of today’s cultural challenges. At top center is former Rep. Mayra Flores of Texas; at top right is former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi. Bottom left, former TV anchor and journalist, Stacy Case of Nashville; bottom center, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, Carrie Severino; and bottom right, Riley Gaines, former University of Kentucky D1 swimmer. (Sen. Marsha Blackburn)
She said her children inspire her in her courage.
In addition, she said her father — as someone who worked in the cotton fields — instilled in her “the value of hard work.”
Also, “I’m a proud Border Patrol wife,” she said.
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She is undeterred, she said, about speaking out for the values she cherishes, no matter what the mainstream culture may be suggesting she do or not do.
She said she believes “that our children” are the ones who “give us the motivation to keep on going … They’re my biggest inspiration.”
A male swimmer came along and “knocked” Riley Gaines “off the podium.”
Riley Gaines, meanwhile, “was reaching” for her lifelong dreams as a college athlete — and “and then all of a sudden,” a male swimmer came along, said Sen. Blackburn, and “knocked you off the podium.”
So “what gave you strength to speak out on that?” ask Sen. Blackburn.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is shown speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, in February 2021. She recently held an online “Women’s Empowerment Forum,” telling Fox News Digital, “We must ensure all women have a seat at the table.” (REUTERS/Octavio Jones)
Gaines said of transgender swimmer Lia Thomas, “A little background. This isn’t just a male swimmer who was good swimming as a male and then transitioned to a woman. This was a male who was ranking 462nd nationally among the men — transitioning to the women’s side, dominating, becoming the fastest female in the country by body lengths, beating out Olympians” and many others, she said.
“So to me, what inspired me to truthfully speak up is, I felt like if I didn’t, I was denying objective truth.”
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Gaines also said, “I know that man and woman [are] the sheer essence of humanity. And when we’ve reached a spot in our society and within our culture where we’re denying that — that’s a much bigger problem than just the ‘fairness in sports’ piece. We’re denying truth. We’re changing our language.”
Riley Gaines has taken a strong stand for women athletes in a culture that is pushing trans agendas. Gaines told Sen. Marsha Blackburn, “When we’ve reached a spot in our society and within our culture where we’re denying” that man and woman represent “the sheer essence of humanity” — then that is “a much bigger problem than the ‘fairness in sports’ piece,” she said. (Fox News)
Added Gaines, “It’s now offensive to use terms like ‘motherhood,’ ‘breastfeeding,’ all of these terms that are strictly for women.”
She noted, “And so, me, being 22 — I was actually set to be in dental school this year, and so my life plans have changed drastically.”
“I don’t think it makes you transphobic to acknowledge that there are two sexes.”
She went on, “But I saw the problem. I saw that no younger women were willing to speak up to this because these girls are terrified. They don’t want to be labeled as transphobic or bigots or hateful. But I don’t think it makes you transphobic to acknowledge that there are two sexes, to acknowledge that you can’t change your sex — and to acknowledge that women deserve respect and women deserve equal opportunity.”
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Gaines noted, “My inspiration is the past female athletes who fought relentlessly for Title IX and for equal opportunities for women in sports.”
Former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas (left) and former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines are shown after they tied for 5th in the 200 Freestyle finals at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 18, 2022, at the McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Gaines was a 12-time All-American swimmer forced to compete against a biological male. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Another inspiration, she said, “is the present female athletes who, like I just mentioned, are scared to use their voice, who are suppressed and have their voices silenced by their universities or by the NCAA or by larger organizations.”
“I saw the problem. I saw that no younger women were willing to speak up to this because these girls are terrified.”
And then “my last why,” she said, “is the future generation of athletes. I just got married, and I can only hope one day that I get to have a daughter who play sports — and I can’t imagine being in the position I’m in now and not fighting for her.”
Gaines also noted that speaking the truth is “liberating.” She said it’s now been “one year since Lia Thomas and I raced, and we tied, and everything happened with the trophy — where the NCAA told me that Lia had to take the trophy regardless of our tie, because Lia had to have it for pictures.”
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She stressed again that her “life has changed drastically from where I thought I was going to be.”
Stacy Case, Carrie Severino and Pam Bondi also revealed their views and experiences as part of the panel discussion.
Among the comments Bondi shared was that her faith helps her stay strong.
“You can’t do this without faith,” she said. “Nothing else works without faith. And I even participated every week in a Bible study group in Tallahassee when I was attorney general because when I ran for office, I was the first female attorney general in the state of Florida.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s “Women’s Empowerment Roundtable,” which took place in mid-March, can be seen in its entirety online. (Sen. Marsha Blackburn)
And “when I signed up to run,” she added, “I didn’t even know I was going to be the first female. I ran because I was qualified. And they attacked me every day. The Left did for eight years. Not because I was a woman, [but] because I was a conservative woman.”
She also said, “That’s why what all of you are doing is so important.”
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Sen. Blackburn’s entire forum and discussion can be viewed below at a link shared with Fox News Digital.
Check out the link below for all the details.