That’s the question asked by Michigan state Rep. Lisa Brown who used the term “vagina” while arguing against a bill regulating abortions and then got banned from speaking on the floor of the House.
I’m pro-life, and strongly disagree with Rep. Brown’s position on the issue, but lawmaking is grownup business and it’s ok to use grownup terms while doing it.
‘Wherever there’s a question of the life of the mother, or that of the unborn child, Jewish law rules in favour of preserving the life of the mother,’ she said.
‘The status of the fetus as human life does not equal that of the mother. I have not asked you to adapt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adapt to yours?’
But what caused the most controversy were the closing words to Brown’s speech. ‘And finally, Mr Speaker,’ she said. ‘I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.’
Some representatives applauded her impassioned statement but others did not take too kindly to her bold words.
‘What she said was offensive,’ state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, told the Detroit News. ‘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.
The idea of a man being unwilling to use the term “vagina” in front of women because he doesn’t want to offend them is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of. Women actually have vaginas, Rep. Callton. I think they’ve heard the term before.
Regardless, vagina is the medical term. The context of Rep. Brown’s use of the term may have been a bit crass – as would any lawmaker referencing their genitalia – but banning the woman for speaking is only going to turn her into a sort of free speech martyr.
Indeed, Rep. Brown and nine other women now plan on performing the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the state capitol.
As is usually the case, the best way to handle people who say stupid things is to let them say their stupid things.