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Madness in Michigan over the word "vagina"
19 June 2012, 8:05 AM | Source: Matthew Hall, SBS
The word “odd” is a perhaps a little too delicate a term to use, however. “Insane” may be better.
This is a story about words, though, and the story goes something like this: State Representative Lisa Brown (it doesn’t matter which party she represents) was banned from the house floor for saying the word “vagina” during a debate on abortion legislation.
Brown said that the proposed bill was contrary to her Jewish beliefs, ending her speech with: “Mr Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but ‘no’ means ‘no’”.
In some kind of response, Representative Mike Callton declared: “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.”
Callton, it should be pointed out, is also a chiropractor with a biology degree.
Here’s an almost funny clip of a local TV host struggling to interview Representative Brown without saying ‘vagina’.
Barb Byrum, another state representative, was also barred from the house floor during the same debate after she was refused the opportunity to introduce an amendment to the bill that would ban men having vasectomies unless the procedure was needed to save their lives.
“If we truly want to make sure children are born, we would regulate vasectomies,” Byrum said, obviously provocatively.
In an online column explaining her actions, Brown wrote:
“Shouldn't we be able to discuss body parts if we're going to pass laws about them? Am I really to believe that my opposition is undone at the mere mention of a woman’s anatomy?
I don’t think so. I think what’s going on is even worse. Some legislators – mostly male – will go to great lengths not to hear women’s voices when it comes to legislating our health and catering to extreme special interests. They don't want to hear us, and when we speak out anyway, they try to shut us down.”
Republican spokesman (OK, OK, Brown is a Democrat) Ari Adler said Brown’s ban “has nothing to do with the word vagina,” and all about decorum.
The same kind of decorum, no doubt, that saw two representatives given a “time out” – not a ban – for a fight on the house floor last year.
Brown and her colleagues kicked the controversy along a little more on Monday by taking part in a performance of the play The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan Capitol building.
That’s one way to have the last word.