It was the “vagina” heard round the world. Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown was on the House floor, speaking out against a bill that would restrict abortion access, when she uttered these bons mots:
“And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no.”
From that place of interest, a great controversy was born. Republican House leaders barred Brown, a Democrat, from speaking in the state legislature the following day for trouncing on “the decorum of the House of Representatives.” They called into question her “maturity and civility.”
And feminists — as you might imagine — blew a flipping fuse. Brown and other women lawmakers performed The Vagina Monologues on the Capitol steps before 3,000 Michiganites waving signs like “MI-gina” and “I have a vagina, a voice, and a vote.” Their point, and it’s a good one: How can you dare legislate a body part that you can’t even speak of aloud?
But it’s disingenuous of Brown and her supporters to pretend that her speech wasn’t sexually charged — wasn’t explicitly, if a little deliciously, designed to make old men squirm.