Women once again fight for their bodies to be their own and the ability to talk about their genitalia like adults.
Lately, it seems like the abortion debate has come to this: Republicans sticking their fingers in their ears and singing which is about as mature (and useful) as the recent silencing of Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown (D) last week on the House floor. During a debate about abortion, she spoke out against a GOP bill that would outlaw the legal procedure after 20 weeks (aka, the You Might be Pregnant RIGHT NOW bill), and also require women to take the morning-after pill in the presence of a doctor—which is just dumb). The offensive words that got her booted from the floor? “I’m flattered you’re all so interested in my vagina. But no means no.”
Republican Rep. Mike Callton said Brown’s comment, “…was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.” There have been some great articles about what we should call our genitalia when the menfolk are present, and especially when having discussions about things that directly impact our right to legally choose what goes into and out of our vaginas, but I think Jezebel really nails it with number six on its list: sin gash.
This highly publicized incident came on the heels of another effort to shut women out of the political conversation. On June 13, a bipartisan Virginian political action committee supporting local candidates who protect women’s reproductive rights was denied the opportunity to participate in the state Republican convention.
Allegedly, it was all a big mistake and the Women’s Strike Force’s application was lost. Director Kenan Draper said that on May 31 she was told that as a bipartisan organization the group would be welcomed at the Republican Party of Virginia State Convention. She says her organization filed the paperwork properly and paid the $250 vendor fee. “Unfortunately, the Republican Party of Virginia conveniently ‘lost’ our application for two weeks, but re-discovered it two days before the convention and informed us that they could no longer accommodate the Women’s Strike Force’s application to sponsor a table at the Virginia Republican Convention,” Draper says.
On the same day, George Allen, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate said, “We need to get all of the wings of our party flapping together in the same direction,” adding that the party needs to welcome independents, “and yes, Democrats” into the fold to win. Maybe getting those wings all flapping to the right will be too tough when it comes to polarizing issues — which could be part of why the Women’s Strike Force was shut out.
What we can take from the vagina incident is that our bodies are so gross that we shouldn’t talk about them — and also that people uncomfortable saying vagina have every right to legislate women’s health. And, in the second case, fear of discussing women’s reproductive freedom kept women out of a direction-setting meeting for one of the country’s two most powerful political parties. In both cases, women are being told to be quiet.
This week, Brown teamed up with Eve Ensler to perform The Vagina Monologues on the Statehouse steps in Michigan — maybe it’s one more step toward a real vagina dialogue where women have seats at the table.
Photo: Dana Moos