I’m Sorry You’re So Interested In My Vagina…

But there’s only a million reasons the penises of the world shouldn’t be making laws about body parts they don’t have. Was that an antagonistic statement? Definitely. Was Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan Lisa Brown going for shock value when she used the term “vagina” on the floor in June 2012? Maybe. When faced with restrictive abortion laws Brown spoke up, with a closing statement that exploded with controversy.

Republican representative Mike Calton responded by telling The Detroit News,

 “It was so offensive I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I wold not say that in front of mixed company.”

After all, it is not as if ‘vagina’ is a medically and politically correct term….only, wait. It is. So is penis for that matter. Could it be that the word ‘vagina’ makes men so uncomfortable, makes the act of abortion so humanized, that they can’t bear to hear it uttered?

Brown shocked her fellow congress-people so thoroughly that she was forbidden to speak on a unrelated education bill the following week. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Democratic representative Barb Byrum was later prohibited from presenting her view that the anti-abortion bill (it passed 70-39 by the way) would be the same as criminalizing a man with a vasectomy unless it was a medical emergency. Women might be allowed to be a part of congress, but what good is it when we cannot speak on our own behalf? The entire situation brought back bad Pussy Riot memories.

Brown herself couldn’t believe that such a “simple house speech” turned into a pressing matter of debate.

“If I can’t say the word ‘vagina,’ why are we legislating vaginas? What language should I use?”

What to do when you are banned from talking about your vagina? Call Eve Ensler of course! After all, Ensler’s play (later published as a book), The Vagina Monologues, has been saying things about vaginas that others have been scared to say since 1998.

“I bet you’re worried. I was worried. I was worried about vaginas. I was worried about what we think about vaginas, and even more worried that we don’t think about them.”

On June 18, 2012, Eve Ensler joined Brown and various Michigan performers in a reading of The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan Capitol building, spurred on by thousands of enthusiastic onlookers chanting, “Vagina, vagina, va-GI-na!!!”

The psychological and political implications of such a gathering were not lost on Ensler, who said,

“We’ve seen the power of saying the word ‘vagina.’ We’ve seen how it’s freed women from their shame and empowered them to break the silence and become leaders in their communities. By saying the word ‘vagina’ and making it okay to say the word “vagina’ we take away the fear, humiliation, and myth that surround it. Censoring a woman for saying a word that is a body part that 51% of their constiuents have is a repression that we have not and should not ever witness in this country.”

On this October Saturday, make it a point to align yourself with the example of Brown and Ensler. Say ‘vagina’ in conversation, hell, say it in front of “mixed company.” If people are so offended by the term, let’s find out why, and change it. Now more then ever, in a time where our presidential candidates are largely ignoring the needs of women, collective action is needed to preserve and strengthen our role in the political sphere. And until we reach an agreement on the abortion front, we are going to keep talking about vaginas, vaginas, and more vaginas.

6 thoughts on “I’m Sorry You’re So Interested In My Vagina…

  1. It still baffles me that “vagina” is such a shockingly powerful word, both in a negative and positive manner. The fact that men in congress consider themselves completely qualified to discuss issues such as women’s healthcare and birth control, yet the word “vagina” makes them, over the top outraged and offended somewhat blows my mind. I think we need to reclaim “vagina”, both the word and our own. I love how you end this, say “Vagina” in a conversation!!

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  2. It is amazing how much fear there is surrouding the knowledge of female bodies. It first came to my attention when I wrote this post in Spring 2011:

    https://jmuwomensstudentcaucus.wordpress.com/2011/03/27/dont-period/

    I found that men I knew were disgusted and terrified by periods and found an article by Gloria Steinem called “If Men Could Menstrate” that said if they could it would be an open topic, even a form of male bonding. Nevertheless, it was easier for me to understand a man being squeamish about blood (I hate that part on House where the camera goes insde the body!), but unconfortable with the word vagina? I am still at a loss! No one ever offered a less offensive term – seems they don’t want to talk about it all.

    Which, as you rightfully point out, renders them unqualified to discuss and make decisions on matters of women’s health!

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  3. Wow! Am I completely behind the times if I didn’t even know this happened? The thing that really gets me (super @%&*)@#&%(#%(*&% ) angry is the “It was so offensive I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in front of mixed company.” WTF. What does that even mean??? There are two points to make here. 1. is CONTEXT. Maybe one wouldn’t be as comfortable just yelling out the word “vagina” in a quiet movie theatre. But, to say that you would never want to say it in front of women because it’s offensive is ridiculous. Why is it inappropriate to say that to a woman in the context of a discussion of OBGYN health or reproductive rights (or really in any context, but I don’t want to push it…)? 2. Also, the fact that it’s an “offensive” to say to women is ludicrous. Isn’t that the same thing as saying, “your vagina is a dirty word. Even though you have one, I can’t say it…” Ok ladies, whenever your around that guy, just pretend you don’t have one ok??? Don’t want him to be offended.

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  4. I know it’s a clichee, but I really don’t understand why these straight Republican men hate/are scared of vaginas!

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