Last Thursday Michigan Representative Lisa Brown was indefinitely banned from speaking during a meeting of the House of Representatives. Her crime? Using the ”vagina” while discussing reproductive rights in a debate on the House floor.
Brown, who was advocating for women’s health rights in a proposed bill on abortion, said in her debate: “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no.”
Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas promptly announced that “members should respect the decorum of the House” and banned Brown from speaking. State Rep. Mike Callton later told reporters, “What she said was offensive. It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company,” he said.
Brown later called a press conference, defending her use of an “anatomically medically correct term.” She continued, ”If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it.”
In the days since, thousands of women’s rights advocates have made their voices heard on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms (just search #sayvagina or #michiganvagina on Twitter to see for yourself). Brown announced over the weekend that she will be joining Eve Ensler, founder of V-day, on the steps of the Michigan Capitol on Monday for a special performance of The Vagina Monologues. In the play, Ensler states:
“Vagina. I say it because I believe that what we don’t say we don’t see, acknowledge, or remember. What we don’t say becomes a secret, and secrets often create shame and fear and myths.”
If you would like to make your voice heard, you can contact Michigan legislators here.