Vagina Monologues at the Michigan State Capitol

Interview

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thousands of people filled the lawn of the Michigan state capitol in Lansing this past Monday to watch female members of the state's house and senate perform The Vagina Monologues. The performance/rally was a response to a ruckus in Michigan House of Representatives days earlier. Representative Lisa Brown was banned from speaking on any bill after her speech about a bill putting certain limits on abortion. It concluded, "Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'" The Speaker condemned her lack of decorum, video of the speech went viral, and female politicians quickly organized the Vagina Monologues protest.

Eve Ensler, the women's-rights activist who wrote and first performed the play in 1998, flew to Michigan for the occasion. While the Monologues have been enormously popular at colleges and in theaters, Ensler says that elected officials are also coming to embrace the play. "Nine members of the European parliament performed The Vagina Monologues inside the parliament,” she tells Kurt Andersen. “We're really seeing this new trend of women in political office doing the show as a way of raising the issue of violence against women, but also as a way of empowerment for themselves and their constituents." Ensler is optimistic that the incident in Michigan is an opportunity to raise awareness, though she says her best hope for a blockbuster success is that it will one day be irrelevant. "I've been fighting for the liberation of women since I can remember," Ensler says, "and I don't want to be doing this when I'm 85."

→ What was so offensive about Representative Brown’s remarks? Was it that she used the word “vagina” or the way she framed the issue? Tell us in a comment below.

 

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Guests:

Eve Ensler

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Comments [7]

Jay, obviously you are not a woman and OBVIOUSLY you don't understand that republicans are trying to keep women from deciding what they feel is best for their own bodies. I wish you could imagine for one second what it would be like if your government tried to legislate your body, but you see, that would never happen. Men would never allow that to happen. To be able to speak on a specific topic concerning your anatomy, because republicans are trying to legislate it, and because you have a personal conviction to do so as it's, in fact, apart of your own anatomy, is not childish. Being silenced because republicans don't like the word "vagina" is childish. It goes to show that republicans aren't ready to make decisions for a little over half the population when it concerns their reproductive choices. We all know that Brown wasn't silenced because she simply said the word vagina. It was because she made valid points that those old, white, hypocritical men didn't have the slitest idea how to dismantle. Bottom line, woman are underrepresented in the house. We are underrepresented and we deserve people who can speak for us when it concerns us. They took that away from women. They aren't looking out for our best interest. Shame on them.

Jun. 27 2012 12:47 PM
jay

to be honest i think it's all pretty juvenile and pathetic. yes your a woman. yes you have a vagina so what.

can you imagine a guy walking round with an 'i love my penis t-shirt' . . . well ok yes but still, i'm sure you get my point.

vagina blah blah blah. GROW UP.

Jun. 25 2012 08:38 AM
Lucille Ruga from St. Petersburg FL

Back in March 2011 a state legislator in Florida was admonished for using the word uterus in session. Democrat Scott Randolph. representative from Orlando suggested that his wife "incorporate her uterus" to stop Republicans from pushing measures that would restrict abortions. Republicans, after all, wouldn't want to further regulate a Florida business.

Apparently the GOP leadership of the House didn't like the one-liner.

They told Democrats that Randolph is not to discuss body parts on the House floor.

Jun. 24 2012 03:19 PM
M Granger

Your show was an embarrassment today - Pretty shallow, don't you think?

Jun. 24 2012 02:42 PM
Eric Russell from New Hampshire

I am disappointed but not surprised by the QUESTION posed for listeners to respond to: "What was so offensive about Representative Brown’s remarks? Was it that she used the word “vagina” or the way she framed the issue? Tell us in a comment below." This question places responsibility for the response on Representative Brown. The question and framing of it should have placed responsibility on the MEN who censured her. It should have asked "Why were these men so offended by Representative Brown's remarks? Was it that they don't hear the word "vagina" or could they not civilly respond to the way the issue was framed? Admittedly my changed question is not ideal, but it illustrates the point.

Their response betrays more than contempt for their colleague and her political beliefs. It highlights what is wrong with them (I will let you fill in the blank for what is wrong, some suggestions: no means no is right; vagina - yes women have them; and it is not right for men to legislate what a woman can and can't do with her own body).

The question therefore is, what is wrong with these men??

Jun. 23 2012 04:15 PM
Howard Kolus

You failed to state that the speaker said the House's ban had nothing to do with the use of the word vagina, according to a story I read. Now, you can believe that or not, but without reporting that aspect, your telling is incomplete and somewhat slanted.

Jun. 23 2012 03:52 PM
Jim Weeks from Potomac, MD

Why was Lisa Brown prevented from saying anything after she referred to her vagina? The Republican response was not rational, it was a reflex to one of their two hot button issues: sex and taxes. Republicans are obsessed with sex, especially sex that is enjoyed by others. Rapublicans are the ultimate voyeurs. Consider the issues that concern them: anything to do with homosexuality or people who are trans-gender, abortion, birth control, sex education (that is actually informative) and, of course, women. Because only women have sex, right; that is why they are so dangerous. Lisa Brown is a woman, she talked about sex, even referred to some female anatomy -- double trouble. If she were a lesbian, it would be a trifecta. They lost it, and had to shut her up. It was a psychotic break. Trouble is, they may take over.

Jun. 23 2012 02:33 PM

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