As you likely already know, Representative Lisa Brown was banned “indefinitely” from the floor of the Michigan House last week, when, in response to a coordinated, all-out Republican assault on women’s reproductive rights, she said, “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no.” The story, as it’s being related online, is that Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas took offense at her use of the word “vagina.” Since the news broke, as you might imagine, the internet has been abuzz with comments from people who can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that, while members of the Michigan House of Representatives can apparently legislate what takes place inside a woman’s vagina, they can’t utter the word. Thankfully, this has given women’s rights advocates the opening they needed to start a dialogue with the women of Michigan about what House Bill 5711, if signed into law, would mean to them. And, now, we’re seeing the full creative forces of the left galvanizing around this issue. (See the images to the right, which I just took from Facebook.) And it’s building. Tomorrow, there will be a performance of The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan Capital… The following comes by way of Democratic fundraiser Laura Hornshaw.
On Monday, June 18th, Michigan Senators and Representatives will be joined by Tony Award winning playwright and V-Day Founder/Artistic Director Eve Ensler, as well as local activists and actors, for a special performance of Ensler’s award-winning play “The Vagina Monologues” on the Michigan Capitol Steps. The performance, which will take place between 6pm and 8pm, is part of an organized response to the recent banning of Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown from publicly speaking in the House…
Sen. Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D- East Lansing), Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor), Rep. Barb Byrum (D- Onondaga), Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes (D-Saginaw), Rep. Dian Slavens (D- Canton Township), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D- Detroit), Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield), Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-Farmington Hills), and Rep. Joan Bauer (D-Lansing) will perform along with Ensler and local actors…
If you’re interested in more information, the Facebook page for the event can be found here. (So far, it looks as though close to 2,500 have RSPVP’d to attend.)
Brown, by the way, didn’t just blurt out “vagina.” The word was used in context. She was making a legitimate point concerning religious freedom, which, to my knowledge, has yet to be addressed by Republican leadership. Here, with more on Brown’s comments, is a clip from M-Live.
…“I was either banned for being Jewish and rightfully pointing out that HB 5711 was forcing contradictory religious beliefs upon me and my religion,” Brown said in a Thursday press conference. “Or is it because I used the word ‘vagina,’ which is an anatomically, medically correct term?”
Standing with (Barb) Byrum, Planned Parenthood and several other House Democrats, Brown said that as a “committed and practicing Jew, I follow my faith’s teachings on women’s health issues.”
She said Jewish teachings say when a pregnant woman’s health and life are at stake, that woman’s life is the primary thing.
“As a Jew, I realize my beliefs are in the minority. I understand that many people hold different opinions and I respect that. It would never occur to to me to force my beliefs on someone else. All I did was urge my fellow lawmakers to extend to me that same consideration.”
Brown said she was stopped “from doing the very job I was elected to do.”
“Maybe my message of religious freedom didn’t sit well with the opposition. Or maybe they’re mad at me because I dared to say vagina, the correct medical name of a part of a woman’s anatomy that these lawmakers are trying to regulate.
“These lawmakers, predominantly men, have no problem passing legislation about my vagina. But I say its name, and they get outraged. I’m outraged that this legislative body wants to dictate what I can do, but what I can say”…
Thankfully, the story is getting some national traction. Brown was on MSNBC today. Here’s the video.
In addition to Brown, one other female legislator, Barb Byrum, was also stopped from speaking by the Republicans responsible for rushing this legislation through the House. Here, via the Detroit Free Press, is what Byrum said.
…Byrum was gaveled out of order after she protested when she wasn’t allowed to speak on her amendment to the bill that would have required proof of a medical emergency or that a man’s life was in danger before a doctor could perform a vasectomy…
Personally, I don’t think this has much to do with the V-word. While I like the fact that the “they can legislate it, but they can’t say it” meme has caught fire online, I don’t think, in reality, the men of the Republican party give a damn about the word “vagina.” In fact, I suspect they say it a lot, behind closed doors. (As we know, they love to throw around words like “cunt” and “whore”, so I don’t think it’s much of a reach to speculate that they probably enjoy uttering “vagina” as well.) No, I think this is all about control. This is about them wanting to shut down dissent across the board, so as not to impede the progress of their radical agenda. This isn’t about fear of one word, but fear of debate. This is about clamping down on the few remaining members of the opposition party, in hopes of obscuring the fact that, instead of passing legislation that might lead to job creation, our Republican majority is, for some bizarre reason, trying to do an end-run around Roe v. Wade, and deny the women of Michigan their rights, as spelled out in the Constitution.